Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eclipsed Blue Moon at New Year!

Took this image at about 7.45 tonight with my Canon 350D with 200mm zoom lens. ISO 100.

Well, this is a rare one!

Tonight on New Years Eve I saw a Partial Lunar Eclipse (about 10%) It is also a 'Blue Moon' the second full moon of the month. A wonderful sight in the clear sky tonight after all the snow and gloomy weather.
The last time there was a Lunar Eclipse and a Blue Moon together was 350 years ago ... so I wonder when this happened last on the last day of the year and decade as well!!!

Tonight the Moon is bright, almost as high as it can get in the sky. Cold and calm... a moment of reflection for the end of a year and end of a decade.
Here are some of my children from school with their beautiful poems!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

3D Show

Amazing stuff this 3D.

Went to see 'A Christmas Carol' at the cinema with 200 kids from school on Wednesday. The film has been filmed in 3D, but the cinema didn't have 3D technology to get the full effect. Still the film was superb, would love to see it in true 3D.

Yesterday I showed my class a 3D Space Show and gave all 30 kids 3D glasses. I displayed the images on the Interactive Whiteboard as a Powerpoint Presentation. They all loved it!

Now my eyes are not brilliant, so I wasn't sure how it would look on a big screen in 3D, but it worked really well.

Above is one of the images that I used, 3D Mars!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Astro-Blog Book

It's arrived!

My Astro-Blog Book!

Having put stuff on my blog now for a long time, I thought it would be nice to have a printed version. There only seems to be one company that will turn a blog into a professional looking book. Its called 'Shared Book', produced by 'blog2print' and the quality is superb. This is the second blog that I have had printed and I am most impressed!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Eagle has Landed! its made of plastic. I bought this as a 4D Puzzle from e bay. It took about an hour to assemble all the pieces and here it is. A great little model and I also built the Apollo Command Module which fits nicely with the Lunar Lander.

I'm now hoping to get an Airfix Saturn V model for Christmas. (Are you listening Father Christmas?)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

First 3D Image

Get your 3D glasses on and have a look at this! (enlarge it first!)

Superb 3D image of astronaut Pete Conrad on the Moon from the Apollo 12 mission. Today I bought a copy of Sky at Night Space 3D. Some fantasic 3D images of Space. My favourite images are that of Mars... superb!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Apollo 11 landing site from the LRO!

As the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) neared the surface, Neil Armstrong could see the designated landing area would have been in a rocky area near West Crater. He had to change the flight plan and fly the LM westward to find a safe landing spot. This image is 742 meters wide (about 0.46 miles). North is towards the top of the image.

This is amazing!! The Apollo 11 Landing Site from the LRO at it's lower orbit!
I have waited sooooo long to see an image like this!

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
With those eight words, astronaut Neil Armstrong let the world know that Apollo 11 had landed safely on the moon, beginning humankind's first exploration of another world. The landing certainly kept the mission operations crew in suspense as Armstrong maneuvered around the bouldery ejecta on the northeast flank of West Crater, finally settling down almost a kilometer to the west with only tens of seconds of fuel remaining.The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team earlier released two pictures of the Apollo 11 landing site, each taken under different lighting conditions and at lower resolution than this image. This is LROC's first picture of Apollo 11 after LRO dropped into its 50 km mapping orbit. At this altitude, very small details of Tranquility Base can be discerned.
The footpads of the LM are clearly discernible. Components of the Early Apollo Science Experiments Package (EASEP) are easily seen, as well. Boulders from West Crater lying on the surface to the east stand out, and the many small craters that cover the moon are visible to the southeast.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Apollo 17 Landing Site

Latest images from the LRO, here is the Apollo 17 Landing Site!

What amazing images they are, you can even see the trails of the astronauts as they walked around on the Moon. This is a bit like Google Earth showing your back garden from space!

I wonder if we will have Google Moon with images mapped from the LRO showing all the Apollo landing sites...would be great!

The images above were taken from the mission showing the landscape and the Lunar Module Descent Stage left on the Moon taken from the Lunar Rover after lift off.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Amazing Weather!

Here is Melissa enjoying the sunshine, don't forget it's nearly November!

This time last year it was snowing! (fact)

This week has had temperatures as high as 21 degrees, yesterday we had lunch in the garden with T-shirts and beautiful sunshine! Even night temperatures are still at 15 degrees, you could sit in the garden with a beer. Looking at the weather map warm air from the South is flowing across the UK, is this a true Indian Summer?

It is quite cloudy and a lot of moisture in the air, but for a half term week its amazing!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Saturn's new ring

An incredible discovery today, been on the news and in the newspapers!

Saturn has a large diffuse 'ring' that has not been seen until now. The dusty hoop lies some 13 million km (eight million miles) from the planet, about 50 times more distant than the other rings and in a different plane.

Above is my image of Saturn taken in 2007 with my Skywatcher ST80 and Philips Toucam Pro II. About 3000 frames stacked in Registax. I wonder if one day I will be able to image the new ring with a super sensitive Infra Red camera. (I doubt it somehow!!)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Tonight's Harvest Moon

A beautiful Moon tonight! Took this one from my bedroom window, no fancy equipment.
Perfectly clear and the Moon perfectly aligned high in the sky.
The Harvest Moon is the full Moon nearest to the first day of Autumn and today is the 4th October which only happens every four years.
I wonder how many farmers are out tonight gathering the crops in Moonlight?
A beautiful night!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ISS tonight

At last I have managed to capture the ISS tonight with a (bit) of detail!

I have tried different ways of capturing an image of the ISS, but all I end up with is a blur or a bright spot.

Tonight I tried my Skywatcher ED80 pro and Canon 350d. OK...not brilliant...but the best image so far!

The camera was set to ISS 800, 1/400s and hand held along with the scope. The most difficult part is focusing the scope, as the ISS passes overhead the scope needs re-focusing and it is so difficult trying to adjust focus, track the ISS and take pictures.

I will have another go tomorrow and see if I can do any better!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Milky Way

Here is an image taken on Saturday of the Cygnus area of the Milky Way at azimuth (straight up) about 11.00pm. This is a wide field image taken with my Canon EOS350D mounted on a tripod and just it's usual 18 - 55mm lens fitted. ISO1600, 12 x 30 second exposures stacked in Deepspace stacker.

Didn't quite get the focus spot-on because of the wide field, but a nice image! Also a bit of light pollution as lights kept going on while I was taking the photos!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tonight's Sunset

A lovely red and crimson sunset tonight.

(may be the volcano effect again)

It was beautiful from my back garden, but I went to Starmount Lodges with my camera to snap some with the whole of the sky!

Taken about 9.15pm tonight with my Canon 350D set to auto.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Seeing Red!

I have just been sat in the garden as it went dark tonight.

As I watched the clouds coming from the South they became orange and red. By 10.00pm the sky was filled with bright red clouds. Never seen this before, has anyone else seen this tonight?The wind is coming from the South and very warm here near Manchester, I wondered if the clouds contain sand granules from the deserts in Africa, but I have just been told that it may have something to do with the Russian Volcano. It was a spectacular sight!

The images shown are in the South taken with the Canon 350D at about 9.50pm tonight.

"The night skies over Britain will turn a deep shade of crimson this week as the fallout from a Russian volcano blast hits the UK.Millions of tonnes of dust, ash and sulphur dioxide were thrown up to 30 miles into the air when Sarychev Peak on Matua Island in the Kuril Archipelago erupted last month.The blast created what experts call a ‘volcanic aerosol’ - a colourful mixture of ash and sulphur compounds - in the stratosphere.This scatters an invisible blue glow which, when mixed with the red light of the setting sun, produces a ‘volcanic lavender’, or vivid crimson/violet hue.Strong winds blew the soaring plume more than 2,000 miles across the northern hemisphere before its effects were noticed in Britain last Thursday.

It is part of a chain of volcanic islands that run south from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the western Pacific Ocean.Commercial flights have been diverted away from the area to minimise the danger of engine failure from ash intake since the eruption on June 12.

During the eruption, the International Space Station passed overhead and astronauts were able to photograph the event.

A hole in the overhead clouds, possibly caused by the shock wave from the explosion, allowed a clear view of the plume and lava flow down the sides of the mountain.A cap-like mushroom cloud is visible atop the rising column.Sarychev Peak previously erupted in 1760, 1805, 1879, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1946, 1954, 1960, 1965, 1976, 1986 and 1989. "

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Noctilucent Clouds

A beautiful display of Noctilucent Clouds last week from my back garden.

Noctilucent Clouds are rare and only happens in certain conditions.

'Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the sky at a height of about 50 miles, which puts them at the top of the mesosphere. These can only be seen during the summer between about 50 and 65 degrees north and south. At any higher latitude it doesn't get sufficiently dark enough to see them.
These clouds look very similar to high cirrus but are bluish or silver in colour and, like the nacreous clouds, are illuminated when the sun is below the horizon, in this case some 6 to 12 degrees.
...most scientists now believe that they are made of water ice.There has been a lot of speculation on what they are made up of and how they are formed, but most scientists now believe that they are made of water ice. But how do these ice particles exist in what should be the warmest part of our atmosphere, and how do they get there in the first place? The answer is probably gravity waves.'

They are certainly wonderful to see from my garden!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Man on the Moon 40 Years ago!

Fourteen years old, four days before my birthday. I had watched the Lunar Landing live on television at about Nine O'Clock last night. I stayed up late to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon. I seem to remember going to bed about 2.00am and then getting up later to watch the live pictures. I was truely amazed with it all!

I stayed up all night until I had to start my morning paper round. The papers were full of news of the Lunar Landing and loads of pictures. I managed to get copies of some of the papers and took them home to read. I still don't remember what happened to them!

Last week I bought a copy of 'The Daily Mirror' dated Monday, July 21st 1969 from WH Smiths. Brought back many memories!

I can't remember what happened after during the rest of the day...I can't have been at school as it finished last week (I think!)

The image above is the only photo taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong on the surface of the Moon. He forgot to take pictures of Neil! It is part of a panorama of the Lunar surface taken by Buzz.

President Barack Obama chats with Apollo 11 astronauts, from left, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, Monday, July 20, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

I've now got quite a collection of stuff to celebrate the 40th Aniversary:

The Sky at Night 'A Night to Remember' DVD

NASA's Greatest Missions 'Landing the Eagle' DVD

The Daily Mirror edition 21st July 1969

Man on the Moon, Sky at Night magazine Special Edition

Moon 3D

Haynes Workshop Manual of Apollo 11

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apollo 11 landing site from the LRO

Great images coming from the LRO!
Now mapped nearly all the Apollo landing sites. the one above is the landing site of Apollo 11, if you look in the centre you will see an object with a large shadow to the right. That is the lower part of the LEM left there 40 years ago!

The Apollo 14 site is even better, you can actually see footprints on the surface ... incredible!
'A US spacecraft has captured images of Apollo landing sites on the Moon, revealing hardware and a trail of footprints left on the lunar surface.
The release of the images coincides with the 40th anniversary of the first manned mission to land on the Moon.
The descent stages from the lunar modules which carried astronauts to and from the Moon can clearly be seen.
The image of the Apollo 14 landing site shows scientific instruments and an astronaut footpath in the lunar dust.
It is the first time hardware left on the Moon by the Apollo missions has been seen from lunar orbit.
The pictures were taken by Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, which launched on 18 June.'

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Space Shuttle...amazing!

Well, tonight I watched the launch of the Space Shuttle on NASA TV then waited about 18 minutes to see it come right over our heads here in my back garden!!
What an amazing sight!!
I watched with my wife Kathleen as the Shuttle and orange fuel tank passed overhead and took some photos.
OK, they are just spots of light, but above is the Space Shuttle and below is the orange coloured fuel tank. An hour earlier I watched the ISS pass over on almost the same!!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

The US space agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has returned its first images since reaching the Moon on 23 June.

CRaTER - will characterise the global lunar radiation environment
Diviner - is to measure lunar surface temperatures
LAMP - will map the Moon's permanently shadowed regions
LEND - measures the flux of neutrons from the Moon
LOLA - will provide a global lunar topographic model
LROC - LRO's camera will help select future landing sites
Mini-RF - uses radar to search for evidence of water ice

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. LRO will start flying over the Apollo landing sites in mid-July.
However, the spacecraft will still be in its checkout phase at this time. If LRO does manage to take images of any Apollo sites in July, the pictures will not be at the best possible resolution.
When the orbiter flies over the Apollo 11 site it is likely to be at an altitude of 100km - allowing the camera to capture images at a resolution of 100cm per pixel.

I really hope that NASA manage to capture an image of the Apollo 11 landing site, it would be great to celebrate the 4oth anniversary with a photo!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Apollo 11 landing site

In my quest to image the Apollo 11 landing site to celebrate the 40th anniversary this is my first attempt. I'm really pleased with this image, if you click the image it will zoom in closer. The image was taken on 30th June with the Moon quite low in the Southern sky. It shows the Sea of Tranquility and the approximate place of the Lunar Landing. Image take with my Canon 350D fitted to the Skywatcher 80ED Pro and 3x Barlow lens.
Counting down now to first Moon landing 20th July. I have already bought some great books and copy of the Daily Mirror on that day.

Watched 'Sky at Night...A night to remember' superb programme showing the whole of story lasting 2 hours introduced by Sir Patrick.
I hope they release this on DVD!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another from last night!

Another image of the Moon last night.
I have been looking through my images that I captured last night and am amazed at the detail of some of them. I have never tried imaging with a Barlow lens and the Canon 350d because it was imposible to achieve focus. I solved it last night by adding the diagonal and then adding the Barlow a treat!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tonight's Moon with 3x barlow

Tonights Moon with a bit of colour saturation to bring out some of the detail in the image.
This picture is BIG click to enlarge the image.
It was really interesting tonight because for the first time with my Skywatcher ED80 pro I used a Barlow lens. In fact I stacked a 2x and 3x Barlow together with my Canon 350D and got some really good results. The image above was taken with the 3x Barlow, ISO800 exposure 100ms.

Here is my image of the Moon without a Barlow, again a large image, click to enlarge.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Apollo 10 launch

Forty years ago today saw the launch of Apollo 10. The dress rehersal for the lunar landing in July 1969. The Apollo 10 mission was a complete staging of the Apollo 11 mission without actually landing on the Moon. The mission was the second to orbit the Moon and the first to travel to the Moon with the entire Apollo spacecraft configuration. Astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan decended inside the Lunar Module to within 14 kilometers of the lunar surface achieving the closest approach to the Moon before Apollo 11 landed two months later.
The picture above shows the Apollo 10 Command Module from the separated lunar landing craft.
I followed this mission on TV and remember the pictures sent from the Moon. A great atmosphere then, lots of press and TV coverage and a big build up to the big day in July 1969.

Apollo 10 Facts

Lunar Module:

Command and Service Module:
Charlie Brown

Thomas P. Stafford, commander John W. Young, command module pilot Eugene A. Cernan, lunar module pilot

May 18, 1969 16:49:00 UT (12:49:00 p.m. EDT) Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B

Lunar Orbit:
May 21, 1969

Returned to Earth:
May 26., 1969 splashdown 16:52:23 UT (12:52:23 p.m. EDT)

Mission Duration:
192 hours 3 minutes 23 seconds

Retrieval site:
Pacific Ocean 15° 2' S, 164° 39' W

Retrieval ship:
U.S.S. Princeton


Demonstration of color TV camera.

Second Apollo mission to orbit the Moon.

First time the complete Apollo spacecraft had operated around the Moon and the second manned flight for the lunar module.

Two Apollo 10 astronauts descended to within eight nautical miles (14 kilometers) of the Moon's surface, the closest approach ever to another celestial body.

All aspects of Apollo 10 duplicated conditions of the lunar landing mission as closely as possible--Sun angles at Apollo Site 2, the out-and-back flight path to the Moon, and the time line of mission events. Apollo 10 differed from
Apollo 11 in that no landing was made on the Moon's surface.

Apollo 10 was the only Apollo mission to launch from Launch Complex 39B.

Maximum separation between the LM and the CSM during the rendezvous sequence was about 350 miles (563 km) and provided an extensive checkout of the LM rendezvous radar as well as the backup VHS ranging device aboard the CSM, flown for the first time on Apollo 10.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Atlantis Launch

The space shuttle Atlantis scheduled for launch on the 11th May heading for the Hubble Telescope.
I have been following one of the astronauts on the mission with TWITTER. Its great to receive live messages from Mike Massimino!

Mike Massimino and Megan in the aft control centre.

Astro_Mike From orbit: Hard to sleep last night after my spacewalk, images of the work and the views still vivid in my mind.

Astro_Mike From orbit: Just flew over the US, Baja to Miami in about 10 minutes! Beautiful Day!!

Astro_MikeFrom orbit: My second spacewalk was long but all worked out in the end, team effort

Mike Massimino working the cargo bay.

Astro_Mike From orbit: At the end of my spacewalk, I had time to just look at the Earth, the most awesome sight my eyes have seen, undescribable

From orbit: This is an awesome experience, the privilege to fly in space and work on the Hubble is beyond my dreams

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tonight's Moon

Tonight's Moon taken from my window with the Skywatcher 80ED and Canon 350D
A beautiful Moon rising late in the South East and in full view of my upstairs window. Gosh...I remember doing this with a webcam and a Bushnell 60mm refractor.... started me off with Astro Imaging! I set up the skywatcher 80ED pro and Canon 350D camera pointing out of an open window.
This Moon is 99% full, a lovely clear night with Orion fading in the West. Made one big blunder here when imaging the Moon tonight, I had the ISO set at 1600, which when the image is enlarged is a bit noisy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ISS and Space Shuttle

WoW! tonight the International Space Station with the Space Shuttle attached came overhead at 7.20pm. I have seen the ISS lots of times before, but never as bright as tonight!
A spectacular sight!
I took some pictures with my Canon 350D mounted on a tripod in the back garden. Here it is passing through the constellation of Orion.
The ISS has its new solar panels fitted, so this along with the Space Shuttle makes it a huge object in space.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Comet Lulin

Comet Lulin located just below the Beehive Cluster in the Southern sky.
This comet was not easy to find, took this image on Thursday last week. Earlier in the week the comet could be seen easily with binoculars, but I just couldn't find it myself!
I found it by first of all finding the Beehive cluster with my telescope then moving downwards taking photos along the way with the Canon 350D until Lulin appeared in the frame.
This is the first time that I have taken my Skywatcher 80ED out for a long time, conditions were good apart from the Moon which was nearby.
I like the tail on the comet, this is first one that I have managed with a tail on it!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Moon and Venus

Took this image last week from the bedroom window! A lovely view of a VERY bright Venus and the cresent Moon. Venus is beautiful at te moment, brighter than I have ever seen it and high in the Southern sky. It dominates this direction!
I'm certain that Venus is bright enough to cast a shadow, I may try to prove it!
Tonight is clear with a lovely, bright Moon but the temperature outside is about -6. The last week has brought record snowfall throughout the country, the South of England has virtually ground to a halt! meanwhile, here in the North, where we are used to snow, we have not had much!
I have always said that the first week in February brings the worst (or best) snow. I remember this from the past when I was at school. Schools never closed then!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Moon in poetry

January is such a dismal time, the Winter has been cruel this year. When the skies are clear the temperature is too cold to go outside or freezing wind.

Roll on Spring!

My children at school have written some lovely poems about the Moon and space... enjoy!