EAS Astrophotography Workshop, Helsington Church, Aug 18th

After promises of a clear sky, last night’s “Astrophotography Workshop” up at Helsington Church was thwarted by cloud, so the half dozen or so EAS members who came along saw nothing of Saturn or Mars or any other planet – or any star for that matter – but we were able to grab some photos of a lovely, huge orange Moon as it rose before it too was swamped by cloud, and there was lots of useful advice being shared so it was still worth going. We’ll try again another night, once the weather improves and  the Moon is out of the way, so keep an eye on this blog for updates. In the meantime, here are a few pics I took last night. I’m sure others will post their photos too…




Images from Mercury transit

The Mercury transit of the Sun was interesting last Monday. Hard to say it was spectacular but when you think what you are actually looking at… But the weather couldn’t have been better in Kendal – for a change!

It was an interesting photo opportunity but with the planet being so small, it was hardly a visual treat even with telescopic aid. However, that we could see it against the Sun was good. Normally in the twilight sky it is quite a challenge to find it if you didn’t know which of those faint ‘stars’ it was… Still fascinating to think that that is a real world passing between us and the Sun, albeit one only about 40% bigger in diameter than our moon. and less than 40% of the diameter of the Earth. At less than 60 million km from the Sun [Earth is 150 million km away], it is a stark place as recent NASA Messenger probe showed in some detail for the first time.


A few of my images. A still taken at 16:11 GMT. Nice sunspot groups – one oviopus group and a much smaller one between Mercury and the large group. Taken through my 8″ Meade LX200R fitted with a Baader astrosolar film filter.


A time lapse video of most of the transit – well at least until the Sun dropped behind a telephone pole and then into trees. The gaps coincide with me putting the camera on a solar scope and also a disloded cable on the laptop running camera [Astrophotography tool] making it go onto hibernation – fortunetly I spotted it quite quickly. The odd ‘cloud like’ bands running through towards the end are telephone wires!


Finally a comparison of a white light image with that from the solar telescope. The main spot group is faint at H alpha wavelengths but the small group is quite prominent. Several filaments are obvious.


Aurora – 7th of October 2015

I’ve not seen many posts on here for a while so though it would be best to contribute and hope that others continue to do so as well.

Sharing a few photographs of the strong Aurora that came visible to Kendal on the 7th of October 2015.

I heard about a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun heading for us and it was a big one! So following the Aurora Watch UK iOS app, worked out that I needed to be on top of a hill with a good dark area to see it so I headed up onto the Golf Course. Straight away I could see it, a super long arc of green so I posted to the social networks in hope that others could see it as well.

Setting up my camera I had a good eye for a nice star trails shot.

One of my friends made it up to the golf course as well in time to see the Aurora dance, so beautiful to see with eyes instead of the camera. Hoping to see it again soon.

Here’s a few photographs from the night and a time-lapse video as well.

Thanks James






Perseid meteor article

There is a really good article on the Persied meteors by Pete Lawrence on the BBC website ‘how-to-watch-the-perseid-meteor-shower’. Forecast looking good for Tuesday night but less good Wednesday [Metcheck: 50% cloud at midnight 30% cloud after midnight] and bad Thursday night/ Friday morning. I’m thinking of heading out tomorrow evening to Orton to get east of Shap quarries and hopefully a good dark eastern view. Ian

At last – an image I’ve wanted for ages

I’ve wanted to get an image of the Rosette Nebula for may years after imaging a part of it with my 8″ Meade at f6.3. Lacking the patience and persistent clear skies to mozaic it, I needed a well tracked short focal length scope. Here is the March 2012 image.

Rosette Nebula - imaged 18/3/12

Rosette Nebula – imaged 18/3/12

I tried a few weeks ago with a poor mount and struggled and got

Rosette Nebula, 23 minutes Canon EOS400D iso 1600, WO 400mm scope

Rosette Nebula, 23 minutes Canon EOS400D iso 1600, WO 400mm scope

So I invested in a new mount and first light, with Simon White, Carol Grayson, Stuart Atkinson and Stella Coxon present at Old Hutton Church,  I managed the image I wanted. A stack of twelve 5 minute exposures and

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula

one very happy bunny! Cracking start. Now to push when the skies relent and we can see stars!


Public moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Another typical frustrating weather window for a EAS moonwatch. It came, it went! Some lovely clear skies with Venus and Mars and a striking crescent Moon sinking into the trees on the hill behind the Brewery Arts Centre, and then drizzle, then clear, then… well you get it!

With three small aperture telscopes there, plenty to look at.  Many families came through with small children who were most impressed, especially at the jagged Moon terminator. Well worth it for them. A striking contrast between white Venus and red Mars. The ISS also put in a show, catching us by surprise as we hadn’t looked when it was visible, popping into view really close to Mars and soaring upwards. Looked relatively faint and reddish so probably seeing it through a lot of thin cloud.

Moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Mars and Venus were very low on the horizon and by 18:37 they were dipping behind the hill. Not a great pic but…

Moonwatch Moon Mars Venus 21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch Moon Mars Venus 21 Feb 2015

The crescent moon quickly captured thru the telescope – eyepiece projection and a compact camera. Pity about the tree!

Moonwatch Moon  21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch Moon 21 Feb 2015

Another imaging attempt

Many years ago, I managed to get an image of the Rosette Nebula using my 8″ Meade LX200R – well to be honest, part of the nebula. The image won’t fit on the camera chip as it is just too large. So with a clearish night, I tried using the wide field Williams Optics 400mm scope. I didn’t get enough images, and had to discard quite a few due to the vagarities of my mount. I ended up with 23 minutes of reasonable images – not enough but gave me hope that success was possible.

Rosette Nebula, 23 minutes Canon EOS400D iso 1600, WO 400mm scope

Rosette Nebula, 23 minutes Canon EOS400D iso 1600, WO 400mm scope

All I need now is a clear sky with no Moon before Orion disappears until next year.

I did manage to get a real nice image of Jupiter using my 8″ Meade, a x2 Barlow lens and a Philips SPC900NC webcam. I took a video of 3800 frames at 10 frames per second [much more than I normally do through a cock-up!], aligned in Registax and choose the best 2900 frames. The result is very pleasing.

Jupiter Feb 7 2015 - South is up

Jupiter Feb 7 2015 – South is up

Activity over the past month

Well it has been a busy old few weeks with moving house and painting! But I’ve managed to get out a few times imaging, mainly from the ‘back garden’ which is much darker than where we used to live in Kendal.

Firstly, Comet Lovejoy. I managed to get images using my Williams Optics 66mm telescope on January 18th – when the sky was moon-free. I was quite pleased with this stack of 10 three minutes exposures that as I had to fight my mount for. [I ended up discarding most of the frames taken.] Not a patch on Simon’s but… I’m happy.

Comet Lovejoy, January 18 2015

Comet Lovejoy, January 18 2015

It was clear again a few days later, February 1st, but by now the Moon was very bright. I had to try but the tail was completely loss in the glare. The comet seemed smaller and fainter but the moonlight would cause some of that. The comparison is interesting as the images are to the same scale.

Comparison of February 1st and January 18th images.

Comparison of February 1st and January 18th images.

The Moon has also been quite pretty. On January 26th I managed to catch it between thick bands of scudding clouds… Canon EOS400D with 400mm scope on static [OK a floppy as hell and a pain in the proverbial] tripod, 1/200th sec @iso 200. Still came out quite nice.Moon Jan26 2015 images1960-63 Rotated

By the next clear night, the night I imaged Comet Lovejoy, the Moon and Jupiter were the really sensible targets.So here it is through the Williams Optics scope.

Moon February 1st imaged using a Canon EOS400D and a Williams Optics 66mm 400mm focal length scope

Moon February 1st imaged using a Canon EOS400D and a Williams Optics 66mm 400mm focal length scope

I stuck a webcam on my 8″ Meade and grabbed a few videos… first the Sinus Iridium at the NW corner of the Moon

Sinus Iridium at the NW corner of the Moon

Sinus Iridium at the NW corner of the Moon

and the SW quadrant where there were some really nice craters on the terminator – this is a mosaic of two images. The big sea is Mare Humorum and the prominent crater at the bottom is Schickard.

Mare Humorum and Schickard

Mare Humorum and Schickard

All in all, quite a successful few nights imaging.