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.

Kielder Forest Star Camp March 2013

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.

Kielder Star Camp

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.

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.

Kielder Forest Star Camp October 2012

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.

Transit of Venus 2012

Yup, I didn’t get to see anything. But hey, I was there!