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All observing logs tagged with Venus

2007-05-19


Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-05-19 20:20 UT
To: 2007-05-19 23:41 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Canon EOS 400D
Notes:

Joined John and Kevin at Woodland Waters for an observing session. The sky was still very light when we arrived, Venus and a crescent Moon hung over the western horizon. Some cloud scattered around but appearing to clear.

Giving Guests a Tour

From: 2007-05-19 20:40 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:00 UT

A short while after we'd set the 'scopes up and left them to cool down we were joined by a young couple asking what we were looking at. We explained that we weren't looking at anything specific and asked them if they wanted to have a look through the 'scopes.

Over the next 20 minutes or so we gave them a tour of Venus, the Moon and Saturn. As usually happens Saturn seemed to go down a treat.

While showing them Saturn I noticed that the image wasn't too good this evening. It was possible to make out the planet's shadow on the rings but that was about all that could be seen. I couldn't make out the Cassini Division.

Venus was also a bit of a problem too. While it was possible to make out the phase (it was apparent that the phase was smaller than the last time I observed it) there was a lot of false colour (the contrast booster helped a little but not as much as it has in the past) and the image was very unsteady.

Another guest

From: 2007-05-19 21:01 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:05 UT

Just after the first guests left we had another visit. This person didn't stay very long, just long enough to have a quick look at Saturn through Kevin's ETX125. That sight got a very obvious "wow!" (as it does with most people).

Photographing Venus and the Moon

From: 2007-05-19 21:10 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:30 UT

I got the Canon EOS 400D out of the car, set it on the tripod, and took some wide angle views of Venus and the Moon together:

Venus and the Moon

Venus and the Moon

Venus, the Moon and Me

Stopping for Coffee

From: 2007-05-19 21:37 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:47 UT

By 21:37 UT it was obvious that it was going to be a very damp observing session. I noticed that lots of dew was forming on everything. I covered up the log book and anything else that might suffer from getting wet and decided to stop for a short coffee break.

M51

From: 2007-05-19 21:47 UT
To: 2007-05-19 21:57 UT

John had got M51 in his 80mm 'scope and I had a look at it (I would have got it in the 905 too but it was in a position that I can't get that 'scope in to — it's not very good at pointing almost overhead). At first it was difficult to see but, slowly, a very faint ghostly patch came into view using averted vision. I was impressed that I could see anything given that the sky still wasn't anywhere near fully dark.

M57

From: 2007-05-19 22:00 UT
To: 2007-05-19 22:15 UT

Given that Lyra was at a reasonable hight I decided to see how M57 looked in the 905. I found it without too much trouble using the 25mm eyepiece (in that it simply looked like a slightly out-of-focus star) and I then switched to the 6mm eyepiece

With the 6mm it simply looked like a faint disc. There was no hint of the ring structure that I've seen before in the 130M.

Given that the sky still wasn't fully dark I decided to compare the view I had with the view using the Neodymium filter. It did appear to improve things slightly although I wouldn't have said that it brought out any more detail. While I wasn't really comparing like-for-like in terms of observing conditions I'm of the impression that this is an object better left to the 130M.

Antares 905 Fogging Up

Time: 2007-05-19 22:16 UT

By 22:16 UT I noticed that the 905 was starting to fog up. Because of this I decided to cover it up and see if it would clear.

M3

From: 2007-05-19 22:20 UT
To: 2007-05-19 22:30 UT

While the 905 was recovering I had a look at M3 thought Kevin's ETX125. For some reason I've never observed this cluster globular cluster before. I was surprised at how striking the view was.

Observing with a 15mm eyepiece, at first all I could see was a diffuse patch in the sky. As my eye adjusted, and especially when using averted vision, I started to see a mottled effect in the cluster and I soon had the first distinct impression that I was making out individual stars.

Jupiter via EXT125

From: 2007-05-19 23:10 UT
To: 2007-05-19 23:20 UT

After a short coffee break we noticed that Jupiter was visible between trees, low on the horizon. Kevin turned his ETX125 onto it and I spent a short while having a look. All four moons were visible, one to one side of the planet and three to the other side. The view, however, was terrible. It was impossible to make out any detail whatsoever on Jupiter. This wasn't really that surprising given that the planet was so low down and also given that we were observing it thought some thin (and apparently growing) cloud.

Jupiter via 905

From: 2007-05-19 23:23 UT
To: 2007-05-19 23:30 UT

I uncovered the 905 and turned that towards Jupiter. Using the 6mm eyepiece and the contrast booster the view was no better than it had been via the ETX125. I spent a short while just observing but the view never improved and I never saw any detail at all on the planet. At no point could I even make out the two main bands.

End of Session

Time: 2007-05-19 23:41 UT

Over the past hour or so more and more thin cloud had been forming over is and was starting to spread out more. By around 23:41 UT it was obvious that it wasn't going to get any better so we decided to call an end to the session.


2007-04-27


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-04-27 13:15 UT
To: 2007-04-27 13:25 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Canon EOS 400D
Temperature: 15.1C ...
Dew Point: 9.7C ...
Humidity: 70% ...
Wind Speed: 0.6mph ...
Wind Dir: East ...
Pressure: 1023.4hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly cloudy all morning but started to clear into the afternoon. Although it was still a little hazy I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-04-27 13:15 UT
To: 2007-04-27 13:25 UT

New active area 953 visible with a single and reasonably large spot (this is the first sunspot I've seen since 2007-03-03). The umbra appeared quite dark and a large penumbra was visible too.

Given how large the spot was I decided to try and take a photograph with my Canon EOS 400D:

Active Area 953

Location: Woodland Waters (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-04-27 19:55 UT
To: 2007-04-27 22:48 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Notes:

A clear night had been forecast so John Turner and myself met up at Woodland Waters for a joint observing session. I took my Antares 905.

When we arrived the sky was mostly overcast with a lot of cirrus. It started to look like we'd abandon the session. However, it started to thin out a little so we decided to stick with it and see how it went on — it did look like it would be a shorter session though.

Venus

From: 2007-04-27 19:55 UT
To: 2007-04-27 20:15 UT

Started out with a view of Venus, even though the sky was still quite light. Using the 905 and the 6mm eyepiece the view wasn't too bad. There was some false colour and some unsteadiness at times but it was easy enough to make out the planet's phase (which had obviously changed since the last time I observed it).

I then added the contrast booster and, as I've found before, the image improved some more.

Giving a Tour of the Sky

From: 2007-04-27 20:16 UT
To: 2007-04-27 20:54 UT

Around 20:16 UT we were approached by two blokes who were part of a group of people camping in the field. They asked what was happening (apparently assuming that we were watching an "event" in the sky) and, after telling them that we were simply observing what was available, we asked if they'd like a look through the 'scopes. They said they'd love to.

Neither of them had looked thought a telescope before so between us John and I showed them Venus, Saturn and various views of the Moon. Both were impressed and, as normally happens, Saturn was the real winner with the most "wow" factor.

We also had a good chat about various things astronomical and how we'd got into observing in the first place. I also spent some time trying to explain to them what they'd been seeing when viewing Venus (the significance of Venus' phase wasn't clear to either of them and it took a little explaining).

Since getting into observing this was the first chance I've had to do this sort of thing. While it wasn't exactly sidewalk astronomy it was nice to give people a view though my 'scope and to answer some of their questions.

The Moon

From: 2007-04-27 21:35 UT
To: 2007-04-27 22:48 UT

After our two guests headed back off to their tent I had a sit down and a coffee break. By 21:35 UT it was obvious that the sky wasn't going to improve at all. There was still a fair bit of haze around and the Moon had a pretty impressive halo around it. There was no chance of any deep sky observing.

Trying to make the most of the evening I decided to do some observing of the Moon. With the 6mm eyepiece in the 905 I had a quick scan along the terminator and could see that the view appeared somewhat flat and muted.

Around 21:50 UT I concentrated on a large highlighted "wall" some distance into the Moon's shadow. Using my Moon map I quickly figured out that what I was seeing was the eastern wall of Gassendi.

I spent some more time just wandering up and down the terminator and then, at around 22:19 UT, I noticed a very strange thing right in the terminator near Delisle. What I was seeing was a perfect triangle, bright corners and obvious sides. It looked very artificial. Realising that I must be seeing some sort of optical effect I had a look at my map to try and figure out what I was really looking at.

To the west of Delisle are some mountains (unnamed on my map) which appears (according to my map) to have three peaks in a rough triangular formation. Given that the terminator was running right through these three peaks it would seem that my brain was "filling in the blanks" and joining the dots to make a triangle with actual sides. Even though I now knew what I was looking at I couldn't stop seeing what I'd initially seen.

I got John to also have a look too and he confirmed the effect.

Also, close to Delisle, I could see Mons Delisle as an inverted Y.

By 22:26 UT the sky was getting somewhat worse although the halo around the Moon was becoming more impressive. For a short while it had quite a lot of colour to it. It appeared yellowish in the inside (the part touching the Moon) and appeared to get redder out towards the edge.

Because of the deteriorating conditions I had another short break to see if things might improve again. However, they didn't and at 22:48 UT John and I decided to call it a night.


2007-04-04


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-04-04 15:10 UT
To: 2007-04-04 15:15 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 10.8C ...
Dew Point: 4.6C ...
Humidity: 66% ...
Wind Speed: 0.8mph ...
Wind Dir: North ...
Pressure: 1022.6hPa ...
Notes:

Mostly cloudy day. Started to clear some later into the afternoon so took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-04-04 15:10 UT
To: 2007-04-04 15:15 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-04-04 19:19 UT
To: 2007-04-04 20:48 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 7.1C ...
Dew Point: 2.9C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1022.2hPa ...
Notes:

The day cleared further and resulted in a pretty nice evening. I decided to get the 130M out and have a look at Venus with it.

Venus

From: 2007-04-04 19:19 UT
To: 2007-04-04 20:05 UT

I'd put the 130M outside about 20 minutes earlier in the hope that it would cool off enough. Having only used the 905 to observe Venus I was keen to have a go with the 130M.

I first lined the planet up with the 25mm eyepiece. The planet seemed very bright and I could see four huge diffraction spikes coming off it. It was almost impossible to see any shape to the planet itself.

Next I switched to the 10mm eyepiece. I could now see some hint of shape but the planet was still very bright and was still mostly obscured by spikes.

I then switched to the 6mm eyepiece. Despite it being too bright a view still, and despite it still being marred by spikes, I could now easily make out the phase. I was also very surprised at how large the planet looked (the 6mm in the 130M gives 150x magnification).

In an effort to improve the view I placed the end cap of the 'scope back in place and removed the cap from the small aperture. This made a huge difference. The view wasn't anywhere near as bright and I was no longer bothered by spikes (for obvious reasons). While the view wasn't crisp, there was a well defined gibbous phase visible.

Next I added the barlow. The view was very soft with some false colour, not the best view but pretty magnificent when compared to the view via the 905.

I did some more experimenting, adding filters and the like, and found that a good view could be obtained with the 6mm eyepiece (no barlow), the ND25 filter and the cap in place (with the smaller hole open, obviously). While the image was still a little soft around the edges, and gave the odd hint of a red and a blue from time to time, it was a very good view.

As a comparison I then tried the contrast booster and the #80A medium blue filters with the 6mm (still with the cap in place). This also worked well (as I've found on the 905).

In all the experimenting I did none of the images I had appeared to be the sort of image that would allow me to do any sort of "serious" observation, I can't imagine managing to make the sorts of observations that avid Venus observers do. I will, with either 'scope, be able to follow the phase changes though.

At 20:05 UT I finished with Venus.

Saturn

From: 2007-04-04 20:10 UT
To: 2007-04-04 20:48 UT

Given that it was well placed and I had the 130M out I decided to move on to Saturn.

I first got the planet lined up in the 'scope with the 25mm eyepiece and I then switched to the 10mm eyepiece. The view was amazing! Easily as good as, if not better than, the best view I had last year. The Cassini Division stood out right away, there was no problem seeing it. I could also clearly see the shadow of the rings on the planet and the shadow of the planet on the rings. I could also see, without any real effort, some faint banding on the planet itself.

Keeping in mind all the problems I had in the past with the old barlow and the 10mm eyepiece I added the barlow to the mix and looked again. The view was stunning and there was no problem finding focus. There's little doubt that this barlow works far better with the 130M than the one that was supplied with the 'scope.

I then mixed the 6mm eyepiece with the barlow. The view was a little soft but I could see obvious variation in the rings, the Cassini Division stood out and the banding on the planet was still visible.

I noted that this must have been an exceptional sky tonight as I appeared to be getting better and more consistent views than I've ever had before.

Back on the 6mm with no barlow, I noticed to the left of the planet, about a ring diameter away, I could see a faint "star". Checking later with Starry Night is seems that this was Rhea. To the right of the planet, much further out, I could see Titan.

I spent more time just looking at Saturn, watching the really clear moments, the really steady moments, pop in and out of view (and there were many of them). Finally, at 2007-04-04T20:48Z, with some thin cloud starting to get in the way of the view, I decided to pack up for the night.


2007-03-27


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-27 12:35 UT
To: 2007-03-27 12:40 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 13.8C ...
Dew Point: 9.6C ...
Humidity: 76% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1014.2hPa ...
Notes:

The day started out very foggy but cleared somewhat into the afternoon. When it was clear enough I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-27 12:35 UT
To: 2007-03-27 12:40 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-27 18:50 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:45 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 9.8C ...
Dew Point: 5.5C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1013.7hPa ...
Notes:

A reasonably clear but slightly damp and misty evening. Although I had to be elsewhere a little later on in the evening I decided to have a quick session observing Venus and, if there was time, a quick look at the Moon (especially given that Rupes Recta would be favourably lit).

Venus

From: 2007-03-27 18:50 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:10 UT

I first lined Venus up in the 905 using the 25mm eyepiece and then swapped it for the 6mm eyepiece. The image was very indistinct and had lots of blue fringing. I then added the contrast booster and this gave an instant improvement (I can see this becoming a more or less permanent fixture on the 905) with Venus now obviously showing a gibbous phase. There was, however, still some red fringe.

As with my previous session observing Venus I added the #80A medium blue and this eliminated pretty much all of the fringing. Those two filters appear to be a winning combination, at least for something as low down and as high-contrast as Venus.

I then added the 2x barlow and even that wasn't a terrible view. While the image was a little soft there was pretty much no colour fringe to distract from the view. Once again it was very obvious that I was looking at a planet that was displaying a very distinct phase.

I kept observing Venus until around 19:10 UT and then, given that I obviously wasn't going to get anything extra out of the planet, I decided to move on to the Moon.

The Moon

From: 2007-03-27 19:15 UT
To: 2007-03-27 19:45 UT

While I had some time left I decided to have a quick look at the Moon and, in particular, Rupes Recta (something I used to observe a fair bit as a child, back when I was a member of the Lunar Section of the Junior Astronomical Society).

With the 6mm eyepiece (and keeping the contrast booster in place) Rupes Recta was immediately and obviously visible. Just as I remembered it gave the impression of being a large sharp cliff (something it really isn't). Close by I could see Brit and, in the wall of Brit, I could easily see Brit A.

I then added the 2x barlow and the view was still quite good.

Looking at the general area around Rupes Recta I noted that "wrinkles" to the West of Brit, along with other features in the area, give a very strong impression of the whole region being surrounded by the remains of a very circular ghost crater.

About way between Brit and the terminator I could see Nicollet. Further on in that general direction, more or less on the terminator, I could see Wolf.

Pretty much touching the south wall of Thebit I could see a very small crater which I could make out on my map but which didn't have a name marked.

At this point I removed the 2x barlow and carried on using just the 6mm eyepiece.

Further south Tycho looked fantastic with its floor in shadow and its central peak standing out in the sunlight. The shadow of the central peak was also very obvious.

Even further south I could see Clavius cutting into the terminator. Two very distinct craters were visible on its floor, one of which (the eastern most one) was throwing quite a long shadow. I could also make out Rutherfurd, just visible in the wall of Clavius.

Buried right in the terminator, down close to the south pole, I could just make out Newton.

At this point (19:45 UT) my time was up and I needed to call an early end to the session and pack up.


2007-03-25


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-25 13:20 UT
To: 2007-03-25 13:25 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 11.5C ...
Dew Point: 6.6C ...
Humidity: 72% ...
Wind Speed: 2.2mph ...
Wind Dir: South East ...
Pressure: 1018.7hPa ...
Notes:

Clear but very hazy day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-25 13:20 UT
To: 2007-03-25 13:25 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-25 19:16 UT
To: 2007-03-25 20:12 UT
Equipment: Antares 905
Temperature: 6.6C ...
Dew Point: 4.2C ...
Humidity: 85% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1020.3hPa ...
Notes:

Reasonably clear evening, if a little damp and misty. Noticed that Venus was visible from the garden and would be for a while to come so decided to quickly get the 905 out to have a look.

Venus

From: 2007-03-25 19:16 UT
To: 2007-03-25 20:12 UT

I quickly got Venus lined up in the 905 with the 6mm eyepiece. Immediately I could see lots of false colour in the image. It was, however, obvious right away that I was looking at a gibbous disk.

To combat the false colour I added the contrast booster and this made quite a bit of difference. The image was quite unsteady, and I could still see a fair bit of red fringing, but the image was sharper than without the filter and the impression that I was looking at something that had a phase was increased.

Next I added the 2x barlow. The image wasn't too bad. There was an increased "rainbow" effect around the planet and the edges were noticeably softer but the overall shape was the same as without the barlow.

I noted at this point that there was no way I'd ever be able to use the 905 to look for the sort of terminator detail that avid Venus observers look for. Likewise I'd never be able to go looking for evidence of the ashen light. However, all that said, with the setup at hand it was obvious that I was looking at Venus (and, as far as I can remember, this was the first time I'd ever looked at Venus with a telescope).

I also noted that I should try observing Venus with the 130M at some point. I would have used it this evening but if I'd brought it out and given it enough time to cool down I'd have lost Venus as seen from the garden.

I removed the barlow and carried on observing with just the 6mm eyepiece. I could still see a fair bit of red fringe, this came and went over time. As an experiment I added #80A medium blue filter to the box (keeping the contrast booster in place) and this seemed to make quite a bit of difference. The view now appeared very crisp with little to no evidence of fringing. This was the best view I had all this session and the phase of the planet stood out very well.

By around 20:12 UT Venus was starting to get quite low for my position, the mist was starting to get thicker and to top it all off smoke from at least one fire in someone's house was starting to drift over my way so I decided to pack up.


2007-03-21


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-21 13:15 UT
To: 2007-03-21 13:20 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 7.9C ...
Dew Point: 0.1C ...
Humidity: 58% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1017.3hPa ...
Notes:

Partly cloudy day. During a clear spell I took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-03-21 13:15 UT
To: 2007-03-21 13:20 UT

No spots or other marks visible on the Sun.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-21 19:20 UT
To: 2007-03-21 19:30 UT
Equipment: Canon EOS 400D
Temperature: 4.5C ...
Dew Point: -1.6C ...
Humidity: 65% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1016.7hPa ...
Notes:

The Moon and Venus were very close to each other in the western sky this evening so I decided to have a go at photograping them with my Canon EOS 400D.

Photographing the Moon and Venus

From: 2007-03-21 19:20 UT
To: 2007-03-21 19:30 UT

I went out with my Canon EOS 400D and set it up on a tripod and ran off a series of shots. Given how bright the Moon and Venus were I didn't need to use very long expopsures. Annoyingly I appear to have got the focus slightly wrong (I do find it tricky to manually focus the kit lens for astrophotography work

I took 12 images in all but the best of the bunch appears to be this one:

Moon and Venus

While it gives a reasonable idea of how the Moon and Venus looked it's nowhere near as crisp as it should be. I can see I need to work some more on manual focusing for astronomical photography.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-03-21 21:25 UT
To: 2007-03-21 22:07 UT
Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Antares 905
Temperature: 1.6C ...
Dew Point: -3.2C ...
Humidity: 71% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 1016.6hPa ...
Notes:

Reasonably clear evening, slightly misty and looked like it might get a little foggy. Decided to take the 130M out for a quick test of a new 2x barlow that I'd purchased a couple of weeks ago at the 2007 Society for Popular Astronomy convention.

Testing new barlow against Saturn

From: 2007-03-21 21:25 UT
To: 2007-03-21 21:47 UT

I started out by getting Saturn lined up in the 130M using the 25mm eyepiece. I then switched to the 10mm eyepiece. The image wasn't too bad — a little unsteady and a little soft but it was possible to make out the shadow of the rings on the planet and also the shadow of the planet on the rings.

Next I added the Sky-Watcher supplied barlow lens and had a look at the image with that. As has always been the case I found it difficult to find good focus and the image was very soft to the point of being unusable. I then switched to the new barlow. Focus was a lot easier to find and, while the image wasn't fully crisp, it appeared to be a huge improvement over the Sky-Watcher barlow.

After comparing them a little more I came to the conclusion that the new barlow would, without a doubt, replace the old one in my lens box. It was a very obvious improvement.

I then tried the new barlow with the 6mm eyepiece. As I expected, the image was rather dull and rather soft but it was obviously much better than with the old barlow. I've seen worse views of Saturn at lower magnifications before now.

Testing With the 905

From: 2007-03-21 21:50 UT
To: 2007-03-21 22:07 UT

Having tested with the 130M I decided to give the new barlow lens a quick test when used in the 905. The main point of this test was to see how well it worked with the diagonal. The old barlow, which has quite a long barrel, didn't work too well as it tended to bang against the mirror. The new one is rather shorter and looked like it wouldn't suffer from this problem.

Got Saturn lined up in the 905 and then dropped the new barlow into the diagonal (and it was a perfect fit, didn't hit the mirror at all). Using the 10mm eyepiece Saturn looked pretty good. Again, it was a little soft (I suspect much of this was down to the state of the atmosphere this evening) but was very acceptable. I also tested with the 6mm eyepiece and, while the image was much darker and softer, it was still better than the worst views I've had in the 130M with the 10mm and the old barlow.

Under ideal conditions I imagine that this new barlow and either 'scope will make for a reasonable combination.

By 22:07 UT it was starting to get very misty and, to make matters worse, smoke from someone's fire was being blown over my garden so, having managed to conduct some quick tests, I decided to call it an evening.


2007-01-11


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-11 17:00 UT
To: 2007-01-11 17:10 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 9.3C ...
Dew Point: 3.4C ...
Humidity: 67% ...
Wind Speed: 5.5mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1000.9hPa ...
Notes:

Very windy evening, very murky sky too with quite a bit of cloud around. Despite this I decided to take another walk to the western edge of the village to try and catch a glimpse of comet McNaught.

Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught

From: 2007-01-11 17:00 UT
To: 2007-01-11 17:10 UT

Unlike yesterday evening, McNaught wasn't visible to me during the walk out to the observing spot. It wasn't until I got to the spot that I caught sight of it. It was much harder to find this evening. I doubt it was much, if anything, to do with the brightness of the comet itself, it was probably down to the fact that the atmosphere was horribly murky and there was quite a bit of cloud along the horizon.

The view to the naked eye was nowhere near as impressive as the last view, if anything I'd have said that the view in the binocular was closer to yesterday evening's naked eye view.

I managed to view the comet for getting on for 10 minutes but then totally lost it while I was looking away. Looking back again I failed to find the head or any hint of the tail (probably lost behind some cloud).

In comparison to yesterday's view I'd say this one was disappointing, but that's just because yesterday's view spoiled me. Had this been my first view of it I think I'd have been equally impressed.

Again, given how short a time I had to view it no real attempt was made to take any kind of "technical" notes.


2007-01-10


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-10 13:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Naked Eye
Temperature: 8.4C ...
Dew Point: 4.0C ...
Humidity: 74% ...
Wind Speed: 8.8mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1004.1hPa ...
Notes:

Clear but windy day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.

Sun

From: 2007-01-10 13:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 13:05 UT

Three active areas visible today. Active area 933 had two visible spots (1 very small). Area 935 had 1 large spot. New area 937 also had 1 small spot visible.

The large spot in area 935 was just visible to the naked eye.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-10 17:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 17:20 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 6.4C ...
Dew Point: 2.2C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: 0.8mph ...
Wind Dir: South West ...
Pressure: 1010.5hPa ...
Notes:

Clear but breezy evening. Decided to talk a walk to the western edge of the village to try and catch a glimpse of comet McNaught.

Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught

From: 2007-01-10 17:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 17:20 UT

Joined by my wife and son, I took a walk out to the western edge of our village with a hope of catching a glimpse of comet McNaught. This was the first chance I'd had due to bad weather during previous mornings and evenings. Not being sure what to expect (I guess I was expecting something small and fuzzy, probably needing a binocular to find before seeing with the naked eye) I went armed with the Meade 10x50 binoculars.

As we were walking something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Through some trees I could see the comet. It was huge and bright! Much bigger and brighter than I'd expected. We carried on to the chosen viewing position (looking out over a field with a reasonably clear horizon).

By the time we got to the chosen location I'd say that the comet was about above the horizon (just a rough guess). The head was very bright and I estimated the tail to be about 1 to 2 widths of my thumb held at arms length. It's hard to estimate how bright the head was but, had it been higher, I'd have thought that (taking its diffuse nature into account) it would have been a reasonable rival to Venus (which was visible further to the south). That's not to say it was as bright, just that it probably would be almost as obvious. Some people have been estimating its magnitude as -2.

Beyond the above I didn't really make a note of any "technical" details, time was too short and the sight was just too breathtaking. This is the first big, bright comet I've seen in almost 10 years and it was hard not to just stand there and state and be amazed. My wife and son were both very excited by the view too (all the more special for my son given that this was his first ever view of a comet).

Sadly the view was all too short. Within about 10 minutes of us first seeing it the head had gone behind some trees on the horizon. I watched the tail (both naked eye and through the binocular) for a few minutes more until the view was lost to the thickness of the atmosphere so close to the horizon. It was all over by around 17:20 UT.


2006-03-03


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-03 04:50 UT
To: 2006-03-03 05:40 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: -6.5C ...
Dew Point: -9.0C ...
Humidity: 83% ...
Wind Speed: Calm ...
Pressure: 996.4hPa ...
Notes:

Woke up early and the sky was clear so I decided to head out with the 10x50 binoculars to see if I could spot Pojmanski (C/2006 A1).

Search for Comet Pojmanski (C/2006 A1), plus Venus and Jupiter

From: 2006-03-03 04:50 UT
To: 2006-03-03 05:40 UT

Using the Meade 10x50 binoculars I had an initial look for comet Pojmanski (C/2006 A1). Spent 5 or 10 minutes scanning the right area of the sky but failed to find it. This probably wasn't helped by the fact that the eastern horizon was rather murky (this was made obvious by the fact that Venus wasn't very clear when I looked at it).

I had a short break and then tried again but failed a second time.

Having failed to find the comet I had another quick look at Venus. Even in the binoculars I'm sure I could see a hint of a phase.

Before finishing I decided to have a quick look at Jupiter, currently in Libra. It was quite low to the south. In the binocular Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede all seemed to be visible. Also, just south of the planet, I could see Nu Librae.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2006-03-03 14:00 UT
To: 2006-03-03 14:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Temperature: 6.0C ...
Dew Point: -7.4C ...
Humidity: 38% ...
Wind Speed: 6.3mph ...
Wind Dir: North West ...
Pressure: 995.8hPa ...
Notes:

Quick check of the Sun with the Solarscope to see if there are any Sunspots.

Sunspot count

From: 2006-03-03 14:00 UT
To: 2006-03-03 14:05 UT

The Sun appeared totally unblemished, just like yesterday.


2005-12-08


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-12-08 16:17 UT
To: 2005-12-08 16:24 UT
Equipment: Tento 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 4.1C
Humidity: 90%
Notes:

Quite a clear evening, hardly any cloud. Decided to have a quick look at Venus through a binocular to see if I could see any hint of a phase (I'd recently been reading other people's accounts of doing this and wanted to try for myself).

Venus

From: 2005-12-08 16:17 UT
To: 2005-12-08 16:24 UT

Quickly stepped outside with the Tento 10x50 binoculars (just hand-held, no monopod or tripod) to have a look at Venus. At first it was hard to be sure if I could see any sort of phase due to the image flaring quite a bit. After a little bit of effort, refocusing and eye-switching I was pretty sure that I could see a hint of the phase.

Next chance I get I'll try it using the monopod or the tripod.


2005-10-01


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-10-01 14:30 UT
To: 2005-10-01 14:46 UT
Equipment: Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Naked Eye
Notes:

Decided to have a go at looking for Venus during the day.

Venus

From: 2005-10-01 14:30 UT
To: 2005-10-01 14:46 UT

Decided to have a go at finding Venus during the day. Not the best of days to try given that there was a lot of cloud around — I'd estimate that at least 75% of the sky was covered with cloud.

I first checked the location of Venus with Starry Night to be sure of where I needed to look (roughly South and about 20 above the horizon). I positioned myself against the wall of our garage so that I was in its shadow — that way there was no chance of me accidently looking at the Sun while scanning with the binocular.

By about 14:33 UT I found Venus. I made sure that no cloud was going to get in the way for the next minute and then put the binocular down and looked with the naked eye. I could find Venus with no problem. I looked away for a few moments and looked back again and could still see it.

I popped indoors to make the above note and then popped back out again. This time I couldn't find the planet either with naked eye or with the binocular. I think this was probably because it was being obscured by cloud.

By 14:46 UT more cloud was moving in, some of which was looking like it might give rain, so I ended the session. Had the weather been more favourable I would have taken the 130M out into the garden and had a look though that.


2005-09-02


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-09-02 19:13 UT
To: 2005-09-02 23:25 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Notes:

Quite a long observing session — probably the longest I've done yet. The evening started with trying to track down Venus and Jupiter close to each other after sunset and then carried on with me getting the 130M out for a couple of hours.

Hunting for Venus and Jupiter

Time: 2005-09-02 19:13 UT

Venus and Jupiter were just past conjunction so I headed out to the West side of the village with a view to trying to catch them just before sunset. By the time I got set up the Sun had set and the Belt of Venus was visible. Hardly any cloud in the sky although a reasonable covering on the Western horizon.

Spent a short while scanning the horizon with the naked eye but couldn't see either of the planets.

More hunting for Venus and Jupiter

Time: 2005-09-02 19:23 UT

Spent a short while trying to find them with 10x50 binocular. Still couldn't see anything. With the binocular it was very obvious that there was quite a bit of cloud all along the part of the horizon I wanted to be watching.

Failed to find Venus and Jupiter

Time: 2005-09-02 19:50 UT

Having failed to see them (defeated by cloud on the horizon) I headed back to the house. I double checked everything with Starry Night to be sure that I'd been looking in the right place at the right time — I had. Venus would have set at around 19:37 UT so both planets would have been very close to the horizon while I was looking so they were obviously obscured by the cloud.

Out into the garden with 130M — M57

From: 2005-09-02 21:02 UT
To: 2005-09-02 21:23 UT

Now that darkness had really set in I set up the 130M in the garden and decided to check everything by having a quick look at M57.

Sky appeared slightly misty and dew was forming on everything very quickly. Quite a damp feel to the air.

Initially I found it very hard to find it. The problem seemed to be that the red-dot finder was way off and, even after taking some time to adjust it I was still having problems. It seems that, for some reason, the finder itself is now sat on the 'scope such that I don't have enough "slack" in the adjustment to get the 'scope and the dot lined up. I suspect I'm going to have to try and adjust how the finder sits on the 'scope so that the fine-tuning can be done with enough "slack" in the system.

Finally found M57 after a little effort and made a point of making a mental note of how far off the dot in the finder it was so finding other objects should be a little easier.

M56

From: 2005-09-02 21:29 UT
To: 2005-09-02 21:47 UT

Decided to hunt down M56 with the 130M. Started out with 25mm eyepiece. Found it with some trouble. It appeared to be a very small, faint, fuzzy patch. Switched to the 15mm eyepiece and it still appeared to be rather faint. Quite indistinct, no real hint of any actual shape to speak of. Couldn't resolve any stars at all.

Switched to 10mm eyepiece. Although appearing bigger it was still faint, fuzzy and indistinct. There was, however, a hint of a shape now. My best description would be that it seemed vaguely triangular.

With the 6mm eyepiece it was bigger still and the description of it with the 10mm seemed to hold true for the view with the 6mm. As globulars go M56 has to be the hardest target I've looked for yet. With some extra effort and generally with averted vision there did seem to be a slight grainy appearance to it giving a hint that I was looking at something that was composed of stars. That view came and went and was very fleeting.

Strange cloud moment

From: 2005-09-02 22:03 UT
To: 2005-09-02 22:07 UT

Decided to go for M27 next. Roughly lined up the 'scope on the right area and turned my back on the sky for a few moments to check a couple of charts. When I turned back the part of the sky I wanted to look at was now apparently obscured by a cloud. There was no warning of the cloud, I didn't see it coming in from any part of the sky, it just seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Then, almost as quickly as it had appeared, it disappeared. It wasn't that it moved away, it seemed to just disappear (again, while my back was turned). Also, at the same time, I noticed that the NW part of the sky had brightened compared to a little earlier (although, in this case, it didn't seem to be cloud as I could still see stars).

Most odd.

Meteor near Cygnus

Time: 2005-09-02 22:25 UT

While looking in that direction saw a rather bright meteor head roughly East to West just North of Cygnus.

M27

From: 2005-09-02 22:30 UT
To: 2005-09-02 22:50 UT

Back to hunting for M27. Took a little effort to locate — partly down to the issue with the finder and also partly down to the fact that I was looking for a small, faint fuzzy object so I was doing a very careful sweep of the general area. When it finally appeared in the field of view (initially using 25mm eyepiece) I was shocked and amazed at how large and bright it appeared!

The initial appearance was of a large, grey/blue misty patch with a very definite "dumbbell" appearance. Although the overall effect was that it was roughly circular I could see that two opposing sides of the nebula were much brighter and more obvious then the rest of the circumference.

A stunning sight!

Switched to the 15mm eyepiece. The view was even better. Slightly brighter and the "dumbbell" appearance was more pronounced. Made the following rough sketch:

Sketch of M27

Mars

From: 2005-09-02 22:58 UT
To: 2005-09-02 23:25 UT

Finally, a reasonable night out with the 'scope and Mars is getting into a position where I stand a chance of seeing it. That said, I was still observing with a sky that was getting more and more misty while looking in the general direction of a bright streetlight, through a fair bit of atmosphere and with eyepieces that were starting to fog up.

Started with the 25mm eyepiece. All I could see was a non-pin-point bright object that had a hint of orange colouring to it. Next switched to the 10mm eyepiece. Now it started to look like a planet. It had an obvious gibbous phase to it and in brief moments of steady seeing (the image was swimming around rather badly) I thought I could detect a variation in the shading of the surface.

Added a #21 Orange filter to the 10mm eyepiece. Was impressed with how well it seemed to clear up the image. With the filter, in the moments if steady seeing, the variation in the colour of the surface was much more pronounced.

Next used the 6mm eyepiece with the #21 Orange filter. The "swimming" of the image was now much more pronounced so it was harder to get a handle on the image. However, on the odd occasion when the image did settle down the dark patch was very visible. It looked the same as with the 10mm eyepiece only more obvious.

By 23:25 the dew problem was starting to get pretty bad and more and more mist was forming at low level. Decided to call an end to the session.


2005-06-27


Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-06-27 20:17 UT
To: 2005-06-27 21:20 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Notes:

Made an attempt to see the conjunction of Mercury and Venus. Also wanted to try and see Saturn in the mix too. While I managed to see Mercury and Venus I never did manage to find Saturn.

All observations were made from the Western edge of the village.

Initial attempt at Venus and Mercury

Time: 2005-06-27 20:17 UT

Got set up on the Western edge of the village. Did an initial scout around the general location of Venus with the naked eye and then with the binoculars but couldn't find anything.

Sun still up.

Got something but not sure what

Time: 2005-06-27 20:23 UT

Sweeping around some more with the binoculars I finally found something. Wasn't sure if I was seeing Venus or Saturn. Was a lone planet so did wonder if it was Saturn but, at the same time, it seemed a little too bright.

Once I'd seen it with the binoculars I could just about find it with the naked eye.

By this point there appeared to be quite a bit of murk on the horizon and whatever I was seeing was just above it. The sky was very read in the general direction of Sunset.

Sun now set from my location.

Mercury and Venus

Time: 2005-06-27 20:27 UT

It was Venus I was looking at. How do I know? Because I could now see Mercury at the 7 O'Clock position to Venus with the binoculars! Let me say that again in big bold letters: I could see Mercury!

This is the first time in my life that I've ever knowingly seen Mercury!

While Venus was now obvious to the naked eye and very easy to find there was no hint of Mercury to the eye.

Venus now very obvious

Time: 2005-06-27 20:37 UT

Venus now a very obvious object to the naked eye but no hint of Mercury (wasn't at all sure if I should or could be able to see it with the naked eye at any point). Noted that there was lots of murk on the horizon now and it was starting to look like I might lose them into it.

Still no sign of Saturn.

Behind me, in the opposite direction from Sunset, I could see the Earth's shadow rising. This is the first time I've knowingly noticed this.

View of Mercury improving

Time: 2005-06-27 20:55 UT

Mercury now very obvious and easy to see in the binoculars. Still no hint of it with the naked eye.

Jupiter

Time: 2005-06-27 21:04 UT

While looking around the sky noticed that Jupiter had popped into view. Had a look at it with the binoculars but no sign of any of the moons yet. The planet itself was obviously a disc.

End of session

Time: 2005-06-27 21:20 UT

Still unable to see Mercury with the naked eye. Both Mercury and Venus starting to get very close to the trees on the horizon.

Could just about make out one of Jupiter's moons with the binoculars.

Decided to call it a day for this session and head back home.


Page last modified: 2013-04-09 09:19:19 UT
Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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