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!

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.