Tag Archives: astronomy

A coming together (Jupiter & Saturn)

Monday 30th November 2020, 5.30pm (day 3,385)

Jupiter and Saturn, 30/11/20

Mondays have hardly been the most exciting days recently, even by present standards. But while, in no way, a decent photograph aesthetically, this is at least interesting. What you see here are Jupiter (the brighter one) and Saturn setting over Hebden Bridge, seen from my home. I did not realise this until today but apparently these planets are almost due to touch (from our perspective) on 21st December; the closest apparent conjunction since 1623. One to look out for, if you have any interest in astronomy.

This is the first time I have knowingly had Saturn in my viewfinder, and seeing as I had managed in the past to get a decent shot of Jupiter and its moons with my camera I did try for the rings. No joy — though the blurry disc I did get was, definitely, squashed-looking.

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Birthday sign

Wednesday 26th August 2020, 7.15pm (day 3,289)

Chimney sunset, 26/8/20

“But how shall I know the day of my birth in future years, O Holy Seer of Signs?”

“Drew, stand beside the river and look for the day on which the sun sets between the two pillars. Thus shall you know it.”

I’m 51 today.  This is now the tenth year of the blog.  And life goes on, one day at a time.

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Wednesday 1st August 2018, 11.35pm (day 2,533)

Mars, 1/8/13

In some ways, of course, this may be the dullest picture I have ever posted on here. But I still think it’s a fine thing that my new camera [*] makes its debut by crossing interplanetary space. And without a tripod, too; to prove the steadiness of my hand and that the Red Planet isn’t just an out-of-focus star, note Psi Capricornus (apparently) just to the left.

[*] A Canon Power Shot SX60.

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Journey’s end

Monday 21st August 2017, 1.25pm (day 2,188)

Eclipse, 21/8/17

It’s not quite 3pm here but considering this is what I came several thousand miles to see: I think we’re done with photography for the day, don’t you?

It was back in May 2013 that I saw the annular eclipse in north Queensland, and interesting as that was, it does not really approach the awesome nature of totality; the beauty of the corona and the ‘Baily’s beads’, light shining through valleys on the Moon’s edge, which I just about manage to capture here. And as I said about the Australian one — do you realise we might be one of the few planets in the whole universe to be able to see something like this, thanks to the coincidence that the Moon and Sun are the same apparent size in the sky? Lucky us. If you ever get the chance to see one — my advice is, take it.

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Full moon over Manchester

Wednesday 14th December 2016, 6.40pm (day 1,938)

Full moon, 14/12/16

Four weeks ago everyone was going on about the ‘Supermoon’, nearest for 70 years or whatever-it-was…. Well, the moon can’t have moved that far back from Earth in the span of the last orbit, so I guess it is still pretty close. Looks it, anyway. Taken from Manchester Victoria station as I awaited the train home this evening.

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Hunter over Hebden Bridge

Monday 14th March 2016, 9.10pm (day 1,663)

Orion over Hebden, 14/3/16

Well aware that this ain’t gonna win any astrophotography contests — its technical defects epitomised by the fact that the moon is (you can easily check) still nine days from full, but the crescent hasn’t come out here. But having spent the whole day indoors this really was a slow day for material, and with Orion striding over the town tonight in defiance of the usual light pollution I thought I would give it a go at making it the first recognisable constellation to appear on the blog.

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This is how Galileo felt

Monday 3rd March 2014, 7.30pm (day 921)

Jupiter, 3/3/14

I had a really nice, artistic shot of some alley in Manchester city centre lined up as today’s choice. It was a beautiful day, with great light throughout.

But…. this is JUPITER. And Io, and Europa, and (I am taking a stab at this) Ganymede. And there are colours (look how Ganymede to the right is whiter than the rest.) With an ordinary digital camera. Pictured from Yorkshire. It’s awesome.

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Sunday 10th November 2013, 4.20pm (day 808)

Moon, 10/11/13

I swear I took this shot with my ordinary camera, without a tripod, from outside the pub this afternoon. I have beefed up the contrast, admittedly, but blimey. Looking at an astronomical atlas, my best guess is that the small crater just below centre, on the terminator, which shines particularly white is the crater of Wagner, at about 30 degrees South on the lunar surface. I make it less than 50 miles wide. So to be able to pick that up from, what are we, a quarter of a million miles away with an ordinary camera — sometimes you just have to admire the technology. In this case, beyond his ability to keep a steady hand, the photographer had very little to do with it.

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Annular Eclipse, 2013 May 10

Friday 10th May 2013, 8.45am (day 624)

Annular eclipse, 10/5/13

I wanted to visit the tropical north of Queensland anyway, and Cooktown, and the experience of driving through the emptiness of the region, made it worth doing: but there was a reason to do it at this specific period of time, and here it is. I did not manage to penetrate the zone of totality due to not having a 4WD vehicle, so this picture is taken from Laura, a one-horse town west of Cooktown, where the tarmac ends — this was the closest I could get, but we are not at full coverage as you can see. However, in some ways, just as well I stopped where I did because I ended up watching it in the company of a group of Russians who happened to have a pair of solar viewing glasses that could then be used as a filter on the camera, as well as for our eyes. Without them it would not have been possible to capture it.

Anyway, despite all that, and the time and effort it took to see what was really just a few minutes of dimness, I’m glad I did. And there probably won’t be many other non-astronomer pictures of this event. I doubt many people in the world saw this. Its path certainly didn’t cross anywhere particularly populated, just the remote north of Australia and some islands in the South Pacific. Even round here there seemed general ignorance that it was happening: I think largely because they had a total eclipse last November, and this was ‘just’ an annular one, where the moon is at its furthest point from Earth so doesn’t cover the sun’s disk entirely. Nevertheless, let’s not be blasé about it: do you realise how rare eclipses might be, I mean, in the universe? The fact that the Sun and Moon are virtually the same apparent size when viewed from the Earth is really a remarkable coincidence. It’s possible we’re the only planet for thousands of light years in any direction that experiences them, so let’s treasure them.

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