A few members of The York Astronomical Society had the good sense to go out and enjoy a (rare) clear evening this week. On Tuesday the 2nd of April, I took these photos of the comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) with my Canon 7D.
As you can see from this photo, the great galaxy in Andromeda is also visible, even with a standard digital DSLR camera – and no telescope.
Above is a slightly closer view of the comet in the early evening sky.
While my personal aim is always to try and capture these things with my camera, other members of The York Astronomical Society brought their telescopes and charming wit for all to enjoy.
If you live near York and are interested in astronomy then check out YAS on Facebook.
Another March brings another Spring Kielder Forest Star Camp – supported by the Sunderland Astronomical Society. Unfortunately, this year I was unable to camp due to other commitments, but I did travel over to spend the day with members of The York Astronomical Society who were visiting.
As per usual, the weather was not very good while I was there, missing clear skies both before I arrived and after I had departed. In fact, the cloud cover was so bad that I didn’t even get around to taking my camera out of its bag!
The fantastic company and the beautiful surroundings made it all worth while, and I’m now looking forward to the next Kielder Star Camp in October.
Here’s a picture I took after getting home on Christmas day 2012. You can clearly make out both the moons around Jupiter and the halo around our own moon. The photo is not optically perfect because it was taken out my window, but I thought it looked rather nice.
Last weekend a few members from The York Astronomical Society travelled up north to Kielder Observatory for the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower.
As soon as I arrived at the observatory I got my camera out and started taking photographs of the night sky. While it may not have been the clearest I’ve ever seen the sky at Kielder, it certainly was more impressive than the recent Autumn Star Camp which ended up being a bit of a washout.
Gary Fildes had a quick chat to us before we all set off to look through the instruments – including their 14″ Meade LX200 and 20″ Split Ring Equatorial telescopes. Both of which provided very impressive views of various deep sky objects including Jupiter and Andromeda.
Talking of Andromeda, I had to do my usual dark sky test to see how well it came out in a 30 second photograph using my Canon 7D. As you can see, there are a lot of stars in this photo.
As per usual I pointed my camera around Cassiopeia to get a nice picture of the Milky Way including Andromeda to the right.
As you can see, Andromeda is visible even when zoomed out, and at full size you can make out even more detail than previous attempts back home in Thorner or light polluted Scarborough.
I just goes to show how impressive the dark skies at Kielder Observatory really are. You can also see the full resolution photographs on Flickr.
At the weekend myself and a few other members of The York Astronomical Society journeyed over to Scarborough for an evening of astronomy and good times. As well as looking through my friend’s telescopes – I also positioned my camera skyward to see what the dark skies of suburban Scarborough had in store for me.
As you can see there are still a large amount of stars that are visible by using a 30 second exposure, even tough there is a distinct orange glow when compared to roughly the same photographs taken from the dark skies of Thorner – my home village.
With Andromeda being my new favourite benchmark for dark skies, I performed my usual routine of pointing my camera towards the bright stars of Cassiopeia – here marked with the green lines. Andromeda is just to the right located inside the green circle.
In the full resolution picture you can see that Andromeda is clearly more than just a regular field star, even with the increased amounts of light pollution when compared to the streetlight-free Thorner image below.
I think this really goes to show the difference that street lights and other forms of light pollution has on astrophotography. Thankfully, it’s dark enough back home for me not to need an expensive filter for my camera.
After the rain at the Kielder Forest Star Camp I came back home to Thorner to get a good night’s sleep. When I had a look outside I saw it was really dark, so I thought I’d take the advantage and take a picture of the stars.
Aiming my Canon 7D at Cassiopeia, I took a 30 second exposure with ISO set to 800 to see what I could capture. As you can see, there are plenty of stars, and you can even make out the Milky Way going through the middle of the picture.
Though the focus of the picture was Cassiopeia and the Milky Way, I couldn’t help but notice that the great galaxy in Andromeda is also fairly visible. This is not quite as clear as the shot I took at last year’s Kielder Forest Star Camp – but it’s still pretty good.
This year brought the 10th Autumn Kielder Forest Star Camp, and I decided to head along to camp with astronomers from all over the country with the hope of getting a clear dark sky. Before I arrived, my friend Martin Whipp from The York Astronomical Society managed to take the above picture of aurora seen from the Kielder Observatory – so my hopes were high that I would get a glimpse of the truly dark sky for myself.
I arrived on the Wednesday to clouds and fog, and ended up spending most of the evening in The Anglers Arms with good food and good company, and by the time we got out we managed to get about five minutes of clear sky before the clouds set in.
Thursday brought rain, and the wettest Kielder Star Camp that I have been to so far. Unfortunately, the rain did not stop, and a number of us ended up getting a little wet inside our tents – including my sleeping compartment. So after a quick nap in the car, decided to head home on Friday morning to get dry and get a good night’s sleep.
Not wanting to miss out on the adventures, this was not the end of the Kielder Star Camp for me. A number of fellow astronomers from The York Astronomical Society decided to head up to Kielder for the main events on Saturday, which included a number of interesting talks at Kielder Castle.
Though I really wish I’d seen the flashing lights of the aurora borealis, it was still a fun adventure and I’ll definitely be going again next year, just as I did last year.
I took my first photograph of the International Space Station last week, and I’m quite pleased with the result.
Here you can see the ISS travelling across the orange glow of Leeds, with Arcturus visible to the right.
I will definitely be trying to photograph this beast again, hopefully in darker skies. But no matter how dark it is, I’m never going take a photograph as magnificent as this one taken by Space Shuttle Endeavour in July 2009.
Watch the launch of STS-127
This is by far my favourite picture of the space station, and has been my wallpaper on many occasions! You can get the full resolution version from the NASA mission archives.
Yup, I didn’t get to see anything. But hey, I was there!
When you’re an astronomer you see a lot of amazing things through telescopes. Sometimes you just want to capture it on a photo, but taking pictures through an eyepiece can be notoriously tricky. However, if you keep at it you sometimes get some pretty cool results. Some of the pictures I’ve taken look impressive in their own right, and have a quality of their own that’s hard to replicate by doing ‘proper’ astrophotography.
Personally, I find using the small lens of a phone camera a lot easier to line up than an SLR or anything bigger. Here’s a few shots I’ve taken using this method…
Here is the Moon shown through one of the Dobsonian telescopes that belongs to The York Astronomical Society – you can make out plenty of detail on the craters too.
This is a very cool picture of the Sun taken with an H-alpha solar telescope.
With this one you can just about make out some stuff coming off the surface of the Sun, though it’s very tricky to get detail when taking a photograph this way!
Another picture of the Moon here, this one was taken with Annette Newby‘s telescope in the early evening.
And finally – I’d forgive you if you mistook this for a picture of the Moon – but it’s actually the crescent Venus, taken later on in the same evening.