Venus

Through the Eyepiece

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.

Astronomy Photos in May 2012

Last weekend I went to see the York Astronomical Society to hang out and do some astronomy. This time of year the days are starting to get long and it doesn’t get dark until very late, but there are still plenty of things to see.

Here’s Venus just poking out near where the Sun had set. It’s much dimmer than it was a couple of months ago, due the amount of sun light that’s actually reflecting from the surface.

You can even make out the crescent shape of Venus with this photograph, though it looked much better through a telescope.

I also took my first ever photographs (and video) of the Sun through a telescope.

Full Moon in May 2012

There was plenty of talk in the news of the “supermoon” phenomenon, which meant that the full moon appeared to be visually larger and brighter in the sky than usual. Here’s a picture of the moon taken on Saturday night in Thorner just outside of Leeds.

As you can see there was just enough cloud to stop a clear shot, and on Sunday night it wasn’t much better.

Though to be honest I didn’t mind the cloud, as I really like these pictures of the full moon rising through them in the distance, as taken from The York Astronomical Society‘s observatory just outside of York.

The problem with the moon being so bright (and orange when rising) is that you don’t get much detail, but by putting the shutter speed down you can pick up much more detail on the surface.

While I was at it, I also directed my camera towards Venus to take this rather cool photo of it directly below Alpha Arietis.

New Moon in March 2012

Last night I went to Scarborough for some ‘Astro Dog Astronomy‘ and took these lovely pictures of the New Moon in March 2012.

This photo was actually taken with a lens borrowed from Annette Newby – thanks! It looks great, and you can see a close up below.

As well ask the new moon, Jupiter and Venus were pretty close by giving us the fantastic view of these two great planets that we have been used to for the last few months. Venus is on top in this photograph…

And how could I resist getting a close up picture of Jupiter with three of its largest moons in view.

I had a great night, and I also managed some firsts. While I had seen the phases of Venus before, I’d never seen them with such clarity, and a definite first was seeing detail on Mars (including ice caps and dark features!) Very impressive.

Stargazing Live in York January 2012

This year York took part in the BBC’s Stargazing Live by getting the public out to meet astronomers, look through telescopes, and try space food. The event was extremely successful, bringing around 1500 people to the Museum Gardens.

While the weather was very cold (my toes were actually frozen) the sky was clear, and lots of people got a very good view from the telescopes that had been set up for them.

Venus (shown above) was quick to disappear, but Jupiter was one of the stars of the show. With lots of people seeing it for the first time, or seeing details that they’d never seen before – like banding and the Galilean moons.

There was plenty of news coverage of the event too, The Press wrote an article and Glen Berry and Martin Lunn from the York Astronomical Society were also interviewed on BBC Look North.

The York Astronomical Society has been no stranger to the BBC recently; offering up interviews for The Sky at Night while at enjoying the best of a clear sky at Kielder Star Camp, as well as a couple of interviews on BBC Radio York in the run up to Stargazing Live.

The Moon, Jupiter and Venus in January 2012

As the sun was starting to set this evening, I thought I’d quickly pop out and take a photo of the Moon and Jupiter next to each other. Jupiter is the few pixels of light in the bottom-left of this photograph.

While I was out there I was also on the lookout for Venus – which is a little more tricky to spot so early in the evening, but once you see it it pops right out at you.

Here’s a photograph of Venus with an aircraft flying under it. There’s no way I can get any detail from Venus with just my camera, but it’s a nice sight to behold at sunset.

Venus is the couple of pixels of light in the top-left of this photograph.