Monday, 25 June 2012

The Noctilucent Clouds are back!

Hurrah! I get a lovely feeling when these return. It's almost like the Gods are happy. I didn't see any last year, which is unusual for a night owl like me. This was a pretty display blocked somewhat by some lower cloud drifting past the northern horizon. I stepped out of my urban abode after midnight last night (June 25) to check out the twilight in the north, and saw a wispy glow. I put something warm on and drove out just north of the city with a camera and tripod and took a few shots. I could see an intense but small column to the NNE, that dissipated slightly just before the tripod was up. This shot was 5 seconds at ISO 800. I could also see Saturn and Spica setting in the south west over the airport, and Sagittarius in the south, with a hint of Milky Way running upwards into the Summer Triangle. I popped out at 2:30 to see a much brighter display in the stronger twilight where wave structure was very evident. Doing a bit of cloudbusting, it looked like three symbols, with the first one a 'Y'.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Venus in transit

Just before I took this picture, I had driven 150 miles to find clear enough weather. It was around 5:10 am, the birds were singing and Venus had almost crossed the sun's disc for the second and last time in my lifetime. I had decided to stop somewhere, I didn't know where, in a field in Buckinghamshire. I set up a portable 4" refractor telescope on a lightweight tripod with my DSLR camera attached, focused on a distant hillside and set the exposure as low as it would go. I waited. At about 5:30, as I thought it was getting too late, luck came my way as a cloud break slid toward the sun. An ever brightening patch appeared in the sky and rays shone out of the edge of the cloud. The full moon was setting in a clear blue sky behind me. Then I saw the sun's edge emerge in the viewfinder. It was a beautiful sight to see a clear bite out of the edge of the sun. A quick snap was all it took.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Venus approaches transit

No it's not the moon! I filmed Venus using our society's Imaging Source DBK camera while it was right near the Sun in the afternoon sky last Saturday. I had to mask the telescope and shade the telescope using the dome. Venus was flickering about creating double and triple images flickering back and forth in the sun churned air. I had to analyse the best 10% of images and stack them. It's about 4% lit here. It's on its approach to transit the sun. I hope it's clear as I'm getting up at a darn awkward time.