Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Norwich by Night 2015

With a bit of stacking and processing, Norwich is beginning to look like some sort of dark rural location. I'm lucky to live on a street where the lights are switched off at 1am BST. The sky was quite light really but the sky has been stacked and processed separately from the houses. "Norwich by Night 2015 has been spoiled by some cloud streaming in and the dust bunny to the right of the centre, but for me it's quite amazing to see the milky way from a city. Only the Scutum-Aquila cloud (upper left)was visible to the naked eye through the window, but the rest of the detail was brought out with contrast enhancing. I particularly like how I caught a faint reflection of my face peering over the roof corner at the centre, just to the right of the Lagoon Nebula.

A librated, saturated moon

The "top right" bit of the moon on April 26th with the colour saturation enhanced by 500%. Maximum libration point was just beyond the 'sea' near the top centre, which means we can see slightly round the edge of the usual face of the moon. The 'sea' is Mare Humboldtianum. The moon seems to be muddy brown and electric blue, when you turn the colour up.

Fleeting Mercury

Mercury above the rooftops at 21:56 BST 13th May. Snapped by poking my telephoto lens out of my bathroom window. ISO1600 f/5 1/15". It's always very low in the twilight, following the sun down, and it's only visible for brief windows of time, if it's clear. An elusive, vespertine planet! The camera lens's resolution isn't enough to resolve the shape of the planet but I've included a 5x inset.

A conjunction and strange things flying above my head

The night of April 11 was a nice little trip to the observatory, watching Venus and the Pleiades setting over the dome. I settled on this picture, which makes the dome loom large like St Pauls Cathedral, rather than the close up on the conjunction, which showed the gibbous phase of Venus. I also managed to spot the International Space Station beginning a flyover, so I repositioned the tripod and my head hoping to capture it flying past. Previous experience has allowed me to judge where to position myself but keeping still for 30 seconds is not easy. It's a lovely composition of cloud, space station flying through Lynx, Leo, Jupiter and Praesepe - the Beehive cluster and Pollux and Castor just above the dome.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Io and Europa's close encounter

Here's an example of where reality can get close to the simulation. I got some good seeing, and with a decent camera (a ZWO ASI) I got a decent video-capture of Jupiter's moons Io and Europa through my 8" SCT from a city backyard, as they passed by each other, at one point just overlapping. The image is in two parts, and explains itself. The angles are a bit different.

Zodiacal Light from Equinox Star Camp

Yeah! There are still parts of England that have escaped enough the scourge of light pollution, so that the zodiacal light can be photographed. I took this panorama on the equinox (March 21st 2015) from Haw Wood Farm campsite in Suffolk, near Minsmere. This is a beautiful area of the country, not too far a drive from the capital. Our astronomical society, Breckland, had a few members and guests attend a star party weekend at the campsite. I didn't however, look for the zodiacal light, I just noticed it on the photograph, once I'd stitched together this panorama. It is a series of 4 x 30 second exposures at f/3.5 on a regular Canon lens moving from South to West. The sky featured a beautiful range of objects, from left to right: Sirius, the Milky Way, Orion, the Hyades, the Pleiades, then the Crescent Moon and Venus.