Saturday, March 25, 2006

Well, another week has gone by with no observing opportunities. I thought I was in for some clear skies mid week, caught a glimpse of Sirius through the haze of some high clouds but the sky was overcast within minutes!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Stop the press, I just looked out of the window and saw the moon! And........., it is hidden by intermittent cloud.

That's been it since the last post!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Well, not a single star since last Monday, it's been overcast and we've had plenty of rain which occasionally turns to sleet or snow.

Somewhere I have photos of a visit to Jodrell Bank, if I can find them I'll post some.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

First time since Tuesday of last week that we haven't had a clear sky here.

I have too much to do at the moment to make the most of the clear nights, but it makes you think that you should make the most of every clear night when they're available.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Had another chance to photograph the ISS this evening, got a longer exposure this time (thus a longer track). I must try to get back to some proper astronomy now!

Of course this shot might have been better if the moon wasn't in the way, or would it?

The ISS is passing from right to left.

Immediately to the right of the moon is Mars. Farther to the right of the moon you can see the Pleiades and just below and to the right of the moon is Taurus.

The ISS disappears (in this photo) between Castor and Pollux in Gemini.

The hexagonal shape of the moon is caused by the iris leaves on the lens because I'd stopped it down to f11 to try to avoid over exposure of the sky in general.

Canon EOS 350D ISO:800 33 seconds at f/11.0

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Another successful track of the ISS at 18:26 tonight, watched the whole of its' track across the sky as it skimmed by the moon, probably the brightest I've seen it so far at a magnitude of -0.6.

Tried to view another Iridium flare without success though, must read up some more on these to ensure I'm looking in the right direction.

Clouds are rolling in again now but will try to get outside later if i can.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Clear blue skies all day today after what was apparently the coldest March night in the UK since the 1960's.

I had planned to attempt my first sighting of an Iridium flare, all set for 19:03, but the clouds had rolled in, so back inside. I had also made a note of the ISS pass, and by sheer luck I thought to nip out to see if it was still cloudy without a thought for the time. Bingo, there she was high overhead and dispappeared after passing through Gemini!

More later, hopefully!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another clear sky!

I had an ISS track forecast for 18:47 tonight from the WSW. So, set up the camera early but noticed the thin crescent moon that I'd missed last night was on show with a nice amount of earth shine lighting the shadow. So took a few heavily bracketted shots of this first.

Then back to the ISS, sure enough it showed right on time, the following images are variations of my second attempt to capture it on "film". This shot was made with a Canon EOS350D using a 35mm SLR equivalent focal length of 28mm, exposure was 24 seconds at f8.0, speed 800 ISO.

Only had chance for one shot, problem is that the stars etc are so faint through the viewfinder, so didn't start the exposure as soon as I could and I wasn't sure if the ISS was out of view. Next time I will try to get more shots in. The photo above is "as is" from the camera.

This version is after adjust levels in photoshop, interesting that you can now see the atmosphere in daylight. The ISS is the long streak crossing Orion. Below is the forecast plot for this pass from heavens-above, I'd say the prediction couldn't have been better!

The predicted track of the ISS is shown by the solid line running right to left with a red arrow near its' beginning. Below is an inverted version of the final image as a comparison to the chart.

This is a cropped version of the same shot, must try to get some observing done while I have the chance.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Another clear evening, although after a long day at work I wasn't feeling up to much tonight.

However, I'd used Heavens Above to predict an ISS siting from my front door at 18:32 GMT. So set up the camera with a wide angle lens and a bulb shutter setting.

Sure enough, the ISS showed on time and was visible for much longer than yesterday, way past Orion and into the distance before it disappeared. Quite spooky really.

So, rushed back in and loaded the image to the PC, I could just make out the track, problem is I think that it was too light, Orion was barely visible at this time. Therefore contrast etc. meant the track wouldn't show. The problem with getting long exposures correct is a trade off of time versus light, to avoid overexposure you compensate normally by stopping down the aperture, doing that in this case means the track is very faint. Never mind, I will try again, especially as I have got the hang of watching for it coming.

BTW in order to use the Heavens Above predictor correctly you need to enter your location, which is quite easy as a list of towns is in the database.

Also had a quick look at Orion, Saturn and started to see some of the clusters low in the southern sky but these will take a lot of work I think.

Found out tonight that Arcturus in Bootes is the 4th brightest star in the Northern sky, it certainly was bright last night.