Some astronomy bits in the Lake District

As regular readers will know in early August Catherine and I went off on a little trip to the Lake District which was largely enjoyable (bar the rubbish Virgin trains and to a lesser extent the rain). We stayed in Near Sawrey a few miles south-west of Windermere. Of course it was solely coincidence that we would happen to stay under dark skies, in a village where a conveniently placed hill would block any light pollution from Windermere, during the week of the Perseid meteor shower....

Friday, 27 August 2010 · 4 min · Paul Smith

Venus and the Moon

The forecast was predicting heavy cloud cover after dark yesterday, but in the afternoon we had a clear spell. I used this opportunity to capture Venus and the Moon before the occultation. The following was taken at 15:34 UTC, a few minutes before the Moon moved in front of Venus. As predicted the cloud covered the rest of the occulation.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Images of exoplanets around Sun-like stars!

You don't get many days like this. The first image of an exoplanet around a Sun-like star has been released. Previously we had only visually detected a 5 mass Jupiter exoplanet around a brown dwarf star. Brown dwarf stars are too small to undergo any nuclear fusion, and as such they just dimly glow from their original formation. This makes planets far easier to detect around them as they put out millions of times less light, which normally hides any planets....

Thursday, 13 November 2008 · 2 min · Paul Smith

Saturn and Mars in Astronomy magazine

For the people hitting my blog in search of a higher resolution image of Saturn and Mars (and Gemini) that featured in June's Sky this Month section of Astronomy magazine here it is: Although the caption Astronomy magazine wrote was inaccurate, the image was taken in 2006 and not 2004.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Photograph of Mars

So last night, after constructing a new holder for my 3x barlow lens out of cardboard I decided to have a bash imaging Mars. The rolled up bit of paper I had used for my images of Saturn and the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle, had failed. This is the result, almost 2000 frames. Must say I am a bit disappointed - perhaps I need to make a few modifications to my rolled up cardboard adapter, it could do with being about 5mm shorter just so I can make sure it is in focus....

Sunday, 27 January 2008 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Comet Holmes images

Last night was very clear, so I dragged everything out to see what Comet 17P Holmes has been up to during the last 17 days. It has moved closer to Mirfak (Alpha Persei). It has also grown in size quite significantly, now it is about the same size as the full Moon. This has however lead to a slight reduction in brightness. It does however now look more comet-like and less like a planetary nebula....

Wednesday, 14 November 2007 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Comet 17P Holmes

Well the skies have cleared at last, so I went outside for a little while to snap some pictures of 17P Holmes, which a few days ago recently brightened by a factor of a million becoming a magnitude 3 object. First up, the view through the telescope. This was taken with the camera at prime focus of my TAL 2M reflector (effective focal length 1200mm) for 10 seconds at ISO 1600....

Sunday, 28 October 2007 · 2 min · Paul Smith

International Space Station and Endeavour through the telescope

Now this makes a change from my other photos of the Space Station and Space Shuttle. I hooked my Toucam Pro II webcam to my 6 inch TAL 2M reflector (at prime focus) to take these. By my reckoning the middle two pictures here are at a distance of around 400km, the first and last probably closer to 700-800km. You can see the Shuttle quite well on the first three images you can make out the black engine area towards one side of the station....

Sunday, 12 August 2007 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Space Shuttle and International Space Station together

Looks like the Space Shuttle had already docked a few hours before it was possible to image them together directly (annoying) this evening (10th). However I've taken last nights images (9th of August), and merged the two together. You'll notice how much the Shuttle's orbit was slightly off compared to that of the ISS. These two photos are seperated by about 5 minutes, and as such the stars are all doubled up....

Saturday, 11 August 2007 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Space Station and Space Shuttle alert

For those in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and France, etc. The ISS and the Space Shuttle are currently visible in the evening. The ISS will pass over the UK and Ireland tonight at around 22:30 (BST), the Shuttle a few minutes earlier at around 22:20, in both cases they'll take 3 or 4 minutes to cross the sky. They'll be moving west to east. If you miss it tonight they'll (assuming the Shuttle hasn't landed) be visible for the next couple of weeks....

Thursday, 9 August 2007 · 1 min · Paul Smith