Best photogaphs of the year so far

Here’s a round up of my photography’s from 2016 – January to July.

30 mins in 2015 and 30 mins in 2016 – Kendal Golf Course

Moon Watch at the Brewery

The Langdales in Winter

The Langdales in Winter

Ratherheath Tarn Long Star Trails using the 8mm Fisheye

Some of the Moon

Aurora from Shap

Slight Aurora using the 8mm Fisheye

Wet Sleddale Reservoir

Slight Aurora using the 8mm Fisheye

Wet Sleddale Reservoir

Arnside using the 10mm

Mercury transit from my house.

Move to come over the next few months 🙂

Now that it’s getting darker, back to star trails.

With the nights being really light during summer my nocturnal activities have been minimal. Now that the nights are slowly getting darker and are still warm, I’ve got back into taking star trails.

They are pretty easy to create with just as much time spent outside as in front of the computer editing them to be clear of plane trails.

If you would like to know more about how to create star trails, I have an app on the Apple/Android store. Or you can simply come and talk to me. I’m going to be heading out when the right time happens again, if you want to head out and do them then also let me know.

Unfortunately I missed out on the Astro Photography meeting, but was unaware it was happening until that night. I’d be happy to collaborate on the next one with the skills I have to offer.

So here’s my latest photographs, the first taken at the little church at Crook with a full moon and the last taken at the Mushroom on Scout Scar looking south.

Thanks James.



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.


Star Trails to bring in the new year!

The 2015 new years eve was a different one for me, with most people busy doing other things I set out a plan of my own.

The aurora was a hot topic on social media, which I found out from SpaceWeatherLive and finding out that it was cloud free from the BBC, lead me to head out to one local high spots to see it all happen.

In doing so both were accurate, there was well over 31 places with fireworks after the clock stuck 12. During so was my timelapse, half in 2015 and half in 2016.

Happy New Year, James.


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






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!


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.



Very high ISO’s

Last week I bought a new camera, it’s the Canon 7D Mark II and it’s got ISO’s like i’ve not seen before. So last night the sky was clear so I bagged some locations that could be found in the EAST sky.

The images are black and white as I had not got the correct white balance set up.

Apologies for not being at the astro meetings, the last few months have been really busy. I hope to get back and find out about what’s to look out for in the night sky. It would be good to go aurora and comet watching this winter.

Andromeda Galaxy ISO 16000

Pleiades ISO 16000

Orion Nebula ISO 8000

My friend has created an iPhone App you might find useful Astro Locator

Imaging M31 from near Orton, Cumbria

I thought I’d try my ‘new’ dark sky imaging site above Orton on the Appleby road last night. The seeing was poor but only a light breeze and no Moon – I put my Williams Optics 66mm scope on a polar-aligned driven mount and took this image of The Great Andromeda Nebula, M31.



The image was taken with my Canon EOS 400D [deep sky modded] without any light pollution filter – which I wouldn’t dream of leaving off at Helsington. It’s not great with some star elongation due to imperfect polar alignment – I’m not Simon and I didn’t try too hard… Total exposure 1170 seconds [4*180, 1*90, 1*120, 1*240 seconds] at ISO 1600. Also some star distortion [coma] towards the edges which is not unexpected. A higher resolution version is in the image gallery together with one of the M57 area in Lyra – another experiment. It wasn’t all plain sailing… I forgot a key piece of kit – my camera timer/control – so I spent a lot of time with a cable release in my hands!

All in all a pleasing result and certainly proof that the site has potential and is [for round here] very dark. The 30 minute drive to get there [and more importantly to get back!] isn’t too bad from Kendal either.