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Face to face meetings every Thursday plus we are live on Zoom*

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Gallery

A selection of images, photos and observations taken by CMHASD members

 

 

 

Society News

Crescent Moon & Mercury – 7th July 2024

A super collection of images by members of a Waxing Crescent Moon and Mercury taken on the 7th July 2024. The Moon had an illumination of 3%, which is the percentage of the moon that is illuminated by the Sun and an age of 1.6 days old, which is how many days it has been since the last New Moon.

 

John Howarth – Bexley

 

 

Honor Wheeler – Dartford

Mercury is just above the ‘M’ on the label Mercury in the photo.

  

 

Jim Burchell – Dartford

 

Richard Bohner – Arizona, USA.

Image taken 6 hours after Honor and Jim’s images in the UK.  Notice how the Moon position has changed relative to Mercury.

Noctilucent Cloud (NLC) sightings – July 2024

A lovely selection of NLC images taken by Society members on the 7th & 14th of July 2024.

 

7th July 2024

Honor Wheeler – Dartford.

A panoramic photo by Honor Wheeler comprising 5 individual images.

The bright star like object on the right hand side, middle is Jupiter, diagonally up, top and right is Mars and in-between at the top of the image you can just make out the Pleiades. Taken using a Canon Camera M6II on a tripod, ISO800, f/4.5, 1/2sec, 18-400mm lens set to 37mm. 02:18UTC

 

Jim Burchell – Dartford.

 

Bob Byrne – Dartford.

 

Sonia Rubie – Bexley.

Taken using an iPhone – point & shoot.

 

14th July 2024

Jim Burchell – Dartford.

 

Honor Wheeler – Dartford. 

This is 6 frame panoramic taken at 21:45UTC.
Taken using a Canon Camera M6II, Tamron 18-400mm lens, ISO800, f/4, 1/1sec. Each frame the lens was set to 27mm. Panoramic created in Bimostitch and processed in Snapseed.

 

Martin Crow – Burnham on Crouch, Essex.

Time Lapse video by Martin Crow

 

Diane Clarke – Bexley. 
 
Taken @ 22.33 BST / 21.33 UTC.  Using a Canon m50 Mk2, 50mm prime lens @ f2.8, 1/3 sec ISO 1600.Jpeg from RAW

 

Sonia Rubie – Bexley.

Taken using an iPhone – point & shoot.

Noctilucent Cloud (NLC) sightings – June 2024

It is Noctilucent Cloud (NLC) season and members have been watching the sky to see if these elusive clouds put in an appearance – and I am pleased to report that they have. A few members have spotted them….

First this season was by Honor Wheeler whilst in Norfolk on the 17th June 2024.

 

Second was by Jim Burchell on the 18th June 2024 from Dartford.

 

Third was by Jim Burchell & Sonia Rubie on the 20th June 2024.

NLC spotted by Jim on the 20th June 2024 from Dartford.

 

NLC spotted by Sonia Rubie on the 20th June 2024 from Bexley.

 

And finally, fourth by Martin Crow on 23rd June 2024 from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex.

 

Astronomy class at Crayford Manor House before 1961.

The DIY Planetarium made by the Astronomy class at Crayford Manor House before 1961.

Standing (L-R): H P Wilkins & Len Wilcox (Principle of the Manor House Adult Education Centre)

Seated (L-R): Unknown, Bert Offord and John Wall

 

(L- R) Unknown, John Wall and Bert Offord

The Sun by Jim Burchell

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

A lovely collection of white light images of the Sun taken by member Jim Burchell in May & June this year; showing several large sunspots. Jim took the images using a Pentax KP camera attached to a 102 mm Altair refactor fitted with a solar filter and then processed in Snapseed.

Aurora – 2024 May 10th/11th

Like many of the stars we see in the night sky, our own Sun is a variable star. Its activity waxes and wanes, peaking every 11 years in a phenomenon known as the Solar Cycle.

As it approaches this peak we see more dark sunspots appear on its face, and some of those sunspots can grow to huge sizes, becoming larger than our own planet.

Recently an ink blotch trail of sunspots ten times the size of Earth appeared on the Sun, so big it was even visible to the naked eye through solar eclipse glasses and was a stunning sight through telescopes fitted with solar filters.

As it developed, this sunspot group began firing off powerful solar flares, again and again, like a WWII battleship firing a broadside.

And when a sequence of these flares was directed towards Earth, astronomers who study space weather became very excited at the prospect of enhanced auroral activity in the night sky once the solar material reached Earth.

They predicted that, if everything went well, the evening of Friday 10 May 2024 might see an impressive display of the Northern Lights, perhaps even one of the largest for years.

Even though there was no guarantee of seeing anything, aurora-watchers crossed their fingers and made plans to go aurora-hunting after sunset that evening. Ref:https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/space-science/aurora-10-may-2024

So on the night of 2024 May 10/11 several CMHASD members all over the UK looked up at the sky in anticipation and finally at around 10.30pm watched in amazement at an Aurora display. 

Below is a slideshow of a presentation that CMHASD member Sonia put together showing some of the images members had taken that night and 3 time lapse videos too.  Some of the photographs taken by members show vivid colours but to most naked eye observers the colours were not so obvious due to light pollution.  

Time lapse videos by Honor Wheeler.

 

Time lapse video by Martin Crow.

The Moon – 15th May 2024

A super image of the Moon taken by member Diane Clarke on the 15th May 2024. During this day the phase of the Moon is First Quarter.  The Moon is 49.91% illuminated; which is the percentage of the moon that is illuminated by the Sun. The Moon was 7.37 days old, which shows how many days it has been since the last New Moon.

Diane’s image is a stacked image from a 10 min AVI file.  Taken with a Seestar s50, using Autostakkert, with slight colour correction using Affinity Photo.

You should also be able to make out the clair-obscur effects on the Moon known as the Lunar X and V in this image too. 

Lunar X and V are famous optical features on the Moon, visible for several hours around the time of the First Quarter through a telescope.  When the Moon’s terminator; the line between light and dark on the Moon is just in the right place, you can see a letter X and a letter V on the Moon’s surface.

Lunar X and V are examples of how lighting and topography can combine to produce a pattern that seems familiar to the human eye.  The X is formed when parts of the rims of the craters La Caille (68km wide), Blanchinus (68km) and Purbach (118km) catch the Sun’s light. The V is caused by Sun light illuminating the Moon close to the crater Ukert along with several smaller craters.

For more information check out https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/advice/skills/lunar-x-v and https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/what-is-lunar-x/

The Moon – 12th May 2024

A stunning collection of photos of the Moon taken on the 12th May 2024 by Neil Webster.  The Moon was 25.1% illuminated and 4.71 days old.

AA115mm APO EQ6 R, ZWO ASI290MM, R/IR filter

4 frames stitched in Microsoft ICE: each 90sx33fps. Best 20% stacked in AutoStakkert.

Acquisition: firecapture
Processing: AutoStakkert & Photoshop

For higher resolution photos of the above; check out Neils flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/137388222@N05/

Exo-Planet transits of HAT-P-55b and TrES-3b

Here is the Exo-Planet transit of HAT-P-55b taken on the 11th May 2024 by Simon Dawes for the ExoClock project.  Simon did the observation on the same night as the ‘Great Aurora’, it finished in twilight so he lost about an hour of data.

HAT-P-55b is a gas giant exoplanet that orbits a G-type star. Its mass is 0.596 Jupiters, it takes 3.6 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.04628 AU from its star. Its discovery was announced in 2015.

 

Next is the Exo-Planet transit of TrES-3b taken on the 15th May 2024 by Simon Dawes also for the ExoClock project. 

Simon wrote ”The night wasn’t great, there was a light mist, 1/4 moon, and high cloud, I didn’t expect much given the conditions and the large change in altitude of the object, but I think it came out ok. The shape of the transit suggests it just grazes the limb of the host star (from our perspective).

TrES-3b orbits the star GSC 03089-00929 in the constellation Hercules about 10 degrees west of the star called Vega. It is the third transiting planet found by the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey.

The planet TrES-3b is named Umbäässa. The name was selected in the NameExoWorlds campaign by Liechtenstein, during the 100th anniversary of the IAU. In the local dialect of southern Liechtenstein, Umbäässa is a small and barely visible ant. TrES-3b has an orbital period of just 31 hours and nearly twice the mass of Jupiter.

Waxing Crescent Moon by Neil Webster

A Waxing Crescent Moon taken by member Neil Webster on the 11th May 2024.  The Moon was 16.3% illuminated and 3.66 days old.

Neil used a R/IR filter (642 – 840nm) when taking his image.

Check out Neil’s flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/137388222@N05/

Messier 31 & NGC 6888 by Jim Burchell

Two deep sky images by member Jim Burchell taken on the 4th May 2024 using a Seestar S50 smart scope.

NGC 6888 (Total of 28mins of exposure)

NGC 6888 (also known as the Crescent Nebula, Caldwell 27 and Sharpless 105) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1792 and is about 5000 light-years from Earth.

 

 

Messier M31 (Total of 11mins of exposure)

Messier 31 also known as M31 and NGC 224 is the Andromeda Galaxy.  M31 is a barred spiral galaxy and is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. 

Messier 13 by Diane Clarke

A superb image of Messier 13 by member Diane Clarke taken on the 29th April 2024 using a Seestar S50 250mm, 120 x 10sec exp @ f5. 

Messier 13 or M13 (also designated NGC 6205 and sometimes called the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, the Hercules Globular Cluster, or the Great Hercules Cluster), is a globular cluster of several hundred thousand stars in the constellation of Hercules.

Diane wrote ”I captured this image of M13 the great Hercules cluster last night I was only able to get 20 minutes worth of data before the clouds arrived.  M13 possibly contains 300,000 to over 500,000 stars with a distance of 25117.4 Ly.  Below & to the right is HD 150679 a Spectral type A2 variable star distance approx. 425.24 Ly.  Below & to the left is HD 150998 a Spectral type K2 variable star distance approx. 1164.84 Ly.

Solar Observing at the Pavilion – 11th May 2024

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

After a fantastic night of observing the Aurora, several CMHASD members took the opportunity to observe the huge sunspot AR664 that caused it, at the Parsonage Lane Pavilion the following day.  Below are a selection of photos from that afternoon.

The white light image of the Sun below was taken by member George Buckberry using a Canon EOS760D attached to a Celestron MakC90 fitted with a Baader 5.0ND Solar filter.  All mounted on a Sky-Watcher Alt-Az Mount and Tripod.

Thank you to Diane, Sonia & Jim for sharing your photos.

Exoplanet Observing with the Unistellar eVscope by Dr. Mike Rushton

Exoplanet Observing with the Unistellar eVscope

Background

Over the last few years, a number of “Smart Telescopes” have been developed for amateur use.

These typically consist of a relative narrow optical train attached to an automated mount. They have software to provide plate solving, tracking and image stacking. They are easy to setup and use.

They have relatively narrow fields and due to their short focal lengths (as well as small apertures) and are best suited to imaging small deep-sky objects.

Unistellar – a French Company setup in 2016 with £2m+ Kickstarter funding – first delivered its scope commercially in 2021. Unlike their competitors they foresaw the possibility of using them for science as well as taking pretty pictures. They partnered with SETI in Mountainview California to produce a program which included exoplanet transit observations.

At 4.5” aperture the scopes are considered too small to take part in the ExoClock program.

Exoplanet Observation

SETI produces a list of favoured targets for study. This is based mostly on the NASA requested targets for the TESS satellite. There are about 12,000 eVscope located all around the world but principally in Europe, the USA and Japan. These were the regions where the scopes were first marketed. About 1500 of these have been registered to the “Science” program and of those my impression is about 100 have been actively used for exoplanet observation. The figures for the week commencing 5/5/24 were 48 observations by 38 observers of 13 targets.

Although there are now several different models of eVscope they are all based around the same optical configuration. This is important as it makes combining data from different scopes relatively easy. SETI have set up a data reduction pipeline that takes uploaded raw frames from participating scopes and produces graphical and numerical output which is returned to participants via a Slack channel. When appropriate, the data from telescopes in different time zones can be combined to allow observations which are impossible from a single site.

This enables long transits to be observed and also long observations of poorly known timings to be tackled. Recently, the program has included candidates whose transits have only been captured 2 or 3 times. The aim is to see if there are any intermediate transits that would suggest a shorter period than originally calculated.

The latest combined observation attempt involved HIP 41378f which has a period of 542 days and transits lasting 19 hours. The ingress was timed to be first visible in S America and then egress in Western Europe. Individual observers were requested to make 2-4 hour observations during the time the star was at least 25 deg above the horizon. The plan was to have the star under continuous observation for 35 hours! (Most people were going to see no transit!). This therefore also included observers in Japan and Australia. 26 telescopes provided data. The results are awaited.

It is possible for single observers to choose their own targets (Usually from the Swarthmore database -astro.swarthmore.edu) and then do their own analysis. Until recently that involved requesting the data from the SETI servers to which it had been sent directly by the telescope’s internal software. This was slow and tedious, involving downloading about 10GB of data which had previously been sent to them. After lobbying from the users, it is now possible to download the data straight from the telescope to a local laptop.

My personal impression is that these scopes will never substitute for results from 8”+ aperture scopes but their uniformity and world-wide distribution plus consistent data reduction means that they have a place in Exoplanet observation.

 

Mike Rushton

Our Sun – 21st & 29th April 2024

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely. Two fab images of our Sun taken by member Jim Burchell on the 21st & 29th April 2024.  Details of how Jim captured the Sun is on the 1st image.  Please note a...

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The Sun – 18th April 2024

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely. A super collection of Sun images taken on the 18th April 2024. The 1st image below was taken by Dr Mike Rushton using a Dwarf II smartscope. Mike took 30 x 1/200sec images which...

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Double Rainbow

A fantastic image of a double rainbow captured by member Kevin Smith whilst on a walk in Deal, Kent on the 16th April 2024. At 6.35pm Kevin was walking along the marshes to the West of Deal looking East towards the sea, about 700 metres from the beach when he saw the...

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Moon – 15th April 2024

A super image of a Waxing Crescent Moon taken by Dr Mike Rushton on the 15th April 2024.  The Moon was 7 days old, 46% illuminated and in the constellation Gemini. Mike captured the image using a smartscope called a Dwarf II.  The photo is a stack of 30 x...

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BAA Winchester Weekend 2024

BAA Winchester Weekend 2024 April 12-14 Over the three days 12 CMHASD members were treated to lectures and talks covering a wide variety of astronomical subjects ranging from the BAA Archives to Dark Energy; including two new presentations from  CMHASD members...

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Crescent Moon

Two lovely images of a 32 hour old Moon with Earthshine taken by member Richard Bohner from Arizona on the 9th April 2024. The 1st image of the crescent moon with Jupiter (top left) was taken with an iPhone.  The dot to the right of the Moon was an aeroplane. The...

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Solar Eclipse – 8th April 2024

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely. The solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, also known as the Great North American Eclipse, was a total solar eclipse visible across a band covering parts of North...

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Stunning Solar Halo by Honor Wheeler

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely. Two stunning Solar Halo images taken by member Honor Wheeler on the 14th April 2024 from Winchester.  Honor captured the Solar Halo’s using a Canon M6II fitted with...

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The Sun – 24th March 2024

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely. A super image of the Sun taken on 24th March 2024 by member Honor Wheeler. Honor captured the white light image of the Sun using an ED80 Refractor fitted with a solar filter,...

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The Worm Moon by Honor Wheeler

Three fantastic Full Moon images taken by CMHASD member Honor Wheeler on the 24th March 2024 from North Kent.  This is the first Full Moon of the spring season and appeared on the night of Sunday 24th March and Monday 25th March reaching its peak illumination in...

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