York Comet Spotting in April 2013

A clear evening in York

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.

Andromeda and Comet Pan-STARRS

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.

Comet Pan-STARRS

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.

Leonid Meteor Shower at Kielder in November 2012

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.

Scarborough Astronomy in November 2012

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.

Thorner’s Dark Skies in October 2012

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.

Kielder Forest Star Camp October 2011

Twice a year astronomers head north to Kielder Forest to enjoy the dark sky as part of the Kielder Forest Star Camp. This year was no exception, bringing us the 9th Autumn Star Camp which included talks from a couple of members from our York Astronomical Society, a BBC television crew filming for The Sky At Night as well as some interest from The Guardian.

Unfortunately, as is usually the case with these things, the weather was not ideal, but I did get one good night of seeing on the Thursday.

Even the dark sky of Kielder is subject to light pollution, but here you can make out a very prominent Jupiter, the Pleiades and a rising Orion.

Here I just pointed my camera up towards the Milky Way, where there is far less light polution.

You can see a close up here of the Andromeda Galaxy. This photograph really reminds me of the early pictures I took of Jupiter. Just imagine the detail I’ll be able to get in the years to come! (If I ever get equipment like the very impressive telescope shown below…)

The larger versions of the pictures above have been uploaded to my Flickr page if you want to see the details.

For myself, no trip to Kielder Forest would be complete without a walk up Deadwater, which has some of the most amazing views! *

* and mobile phone signal…