Wednesday, 22 August 2012


Ka-pow! Another piece of space flotsam slams into the upper atmosphere at supersonic speed. This one, a remnant of comet 109P Swift-Tuttle encounters us at something like 58 kilometers per second. I had left the camera continuously exposing Saturday night, and the following Tuesday after Andy had set his DSLR going I had another crack of the whip. 13 second exposures seemed about right. I got lucky. Soon after starting I caught a Perseid meteor shooting through Cassiopeia, then I got even luckier with this substantial one. However I missed seeing it due to my strange posture while setting up the camera. I had just repositioned it on the ground and clicked the remote. After a few seconds, Andy exclaimed something and my shutter closed. He had seen it while looking about 90 degrees away - so it must have been pretty bright. The first I knew of it was the strange little white line that had appeared on the preview screen. It looks like it's slamming into the top of the tree and the glow from Norwich seems to add an aesthetically nice balance to the photo. Here is the single 13 second shot, with no processing.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Our overlooked neighbour

When I say 'neighbour' here I mean JUST 3 million light years away. Our 20" telscope has had some structural work done and we're in the process of tweaking it. I had some success with it last night but I might have reassembled my focal reducer lenses wrong as there was more coma than usual. Also I couldn't test the optics well as the mirror had become hot during the day and was cooling and also the seeing was poor for a while. I got some lovely pics of M31 (our nearest big neighbour galaxy) and M57 (the ring nebula) as well as one of a comet in Bootes. It was all going well until the house down the road switched its outdoor light on floodlighting the observatory for about 2 hours! I had to turn the dome away from them. So I got this nice picture of M33 with 1 minute exposures at f/3. You can see the collosal nebula NGC 604 to the left, and NGC 595 above the centre. What a pretty object, although of course it is an immense collection of objects.