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NORTHERN IMAGES


ASTRONOMY

I have been interested in astronomy since being in junior school. I do not have much active involvement in observing but I try to look at, and if possible record, special events.

In May 2010 I bought a secondhand Meade LX 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and intend to do much more observing - watch this space!

Photographs and videos from my more recent observations are on my Flickr pages.

See below for older observations.


TRANSIT OF VENUS


My first photograph taken at 07:12 UT (8:12 a.m. BST)
from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham UK.
The image is inverted and reversed laterally.
It also shows darkening of solar limb and some obscuring cloud.


A transit of Venus occured on 8th June 2004, starting at about 05:20 UT (6:20 a.m. BST).

A transit of Venus occurs when Venus, the second planet from the Sun (the Earth is the third), passes between us and the Sun. Venus is seen as a small black dot passing across the face of the Sun. This is be a very rare event - the last one occurred in 1882.


By 07:12 UT (8:12 a.m. BST) thinning of the cloud
allowed me to get another picture.


This image was captured about 30 minutes later.


Around 10:45 UT there was a brief clear spell
and I took this, my final photograph.
I had hoped to see and photograph the 'teardrop' effect
but unfortunately the cloud was too thick as the transit finished.



A COMET

The spell of clear, dry weather in mid May 2004 provided the chance to spot Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT). There was too much cloud on the 14th and 15th, but on the 16th and the 19th the sky was completely free of cloud as twilight came to a close.

Not having a driven mount for telescope or camera, I relied on a series of short exposures. I used a Canon EOS D10 digital camera with a zoom lens set on an equivalent focal length of approximately 110mm. From about 22:30 UT (23:30 BST), I took 23 exposures of 10 seconds each. In my computer I reduced the size of each to 900x600 pixels and then aligned, stacked and processed them in Registax. The comet was amongst the stars of the constellation Cancer and by a lucky coincidence, a meteor was recorded on one of the images. The result from 16th is shown below, together with a guide diagram.



This negative copy of the photograph makes some details easier to see.


On the 19th I took 36 exposures of 10 sec each and processesed the frames without reducing the size from 3072 x 2048. After processing I cropped to the central portion - approximately one quarter of the whole image.




At about 06:35 UT (GMT) on Sunday 16 March 2003, whilst starting on a drive to Hartlepool for a fishing trip, I notice this prominent sun pillar above the just-risen sun. I had heard of sun pillars before, and seen photographs, but this is the first time I had seen one for real.

Sun Pillar

Click on the photograph to see a larger (800x600) version.

An explanation of the formation of sun pillars can be found on the Atmospheric Optics website.


Whilst sea angling in Cahersiveen (see report), I photographed the rare alignment of planets which occured in April and May 2002.

Planets on 1 May 2002

Click on the picture to see a larger (800 x 600) version.

Even this small version shows Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. The larger version clearly shows Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Mercury and two stars of Taurus. The photograph was taken at 21:19 U.T. on 1 May 2002. It was taken with a Pentax Optio digital camera using a manual setting of 5 seconds at f2.6; all other settings at auto/default except for flash which was set to 'off'. The camera was stood on a wall.

Planets on 5 May 2002

Click on the picture to see a larger (800 x 600) version.

The larger version clearly shows Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. The photograph was taken at 21:52 U.T. on 5 May 2002. It was taken with a Pentax Optio digital camera using a manual setting of 10 seconds at f2.6; all other settings at auto/default except for flash which was set to 'off'. The camera was stood on a low wall with my comb as a wedge to raise the front!


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