The total lunar eclipse of 2015 September 28

It was a beautifully clear night here in Edgware, and the entire eclipse was visible, the first time this has happened since 4 March 2007. The eclipse was an extremely dark one, and it was apparent well before the first contact of the umbra. At totality the Moon was dull, eerie grey-red-brown, or a dark copper colour, shading brighter and bluer towards the south, as the Moon passed through the southern part of the umbra, and the sky was dark enough to do efficient deep sky observing. I looked at M31 and other objects with 10×50 binoculars, as well as at the eclipse.

The images are unprocessed, straight from a Canon EOS 350D camera at 800 ISO at prime focus of my Celestron 100mm f9 ED refractor, which is mounted with my C-14 on an Astro-Physics AP 1200GTO mount in the main observatory. Click the images to enlarge, then click on the dimensions (3456 x2304) to see at full-size.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) with M79 2014 December 28

I’d been trying to get this comet for some nights, desperately cutting down vegetation in my neighbour’s garden (with permission) to get low enough. I managed to capture it on the 28th, the same night as several other amateurs in the UK achieved the same, at an altitude of 14 degrees above the horizon, much affected by the London skyglow to the south of my observatory.

The single 30s exposure best shows the globular cluster M79. The stack of 17 images (stacked on the comet) shows the comet best; this image has been subjected to several stages of non-linear stretch and also had gradient and colour cast removal with GradientXterminator and noise removal with NeatImage. Also given is an inverted mono version stretched further to show the tail better. Click any image to enlarge.

2014q2_20141228_2359_ard2014q2_20141228_2341_ard 2014q2_20141228_2341_mono_ard

AR2192 2014 October 27

Seeing very poor today in the afternoon, but I took images of the spot in IR and H alpha, which I have put side by side here, though the quality of the H alpha image doesn’t really justify this image scale. A flare was active during the H alpha capture.


The Sun 2014 October 21

Here’s my take on the giant sunspot AR 2192.

The features I find striking here are the linear streakiness seeming to emanate from a point W (celestial) of the group, manifested in its upper part, and the slightly lighter bridge running right across the main umbra. I used to think sunspots were only bi-tonal, but they are not. (Click twice to enlarge)

Sun2014-10-21-DLA Sun2014-10-21large-DLASun2014-10-21large-DLA

Sun in H alpha 2014 September 26 and October 03

Here are some large images I produced in the process of writing an article on ‘Imaging the Sun in Narrowband’ for the December 2014 issue of Astronomy Now.

The first  is a 3-part mosaic taken with a 100mm f/9 telescope, a vertical slice of Sun. Lack of IR blocking of this image has reduced the H-alpha contrast and put the sunspots back in. I was avoiding using the Lunt blocking filter, which has the defect known as ‘rust’. (Kudos to Lunt that they have offered to replace it free, though it is an old piece of equipment, but I haven’t got the replacement yet.)

The second is a three-part mosaic with the Lunt LS60T, which gets the whole disk in. I hit on a very successful IR blocking method here. This was to use a 2″ Baader 35nm H alpha filter,  that I sometimes use for deep-sky imaging, in the imaging train as a blocker.

Click once or twice to get images full-size. The first won’t fit on most screens.

Sun2014-09-26-DLA Sun2014-10-03-DLA


Lunar images 2014 September 09 & 11

On the 9th seeing was not too good, but this image does show up some of the clefts in Hevelius and the irregular dome in Grimaldi. The vague gash extending from Riccioli away from the terminator is known as the ‘Miyamori Valley”. It is not really a valley at all, but a conjunction of shadows.Moon2014-09-07-2349-DLASeeing was better on the 11th and the image of the Messier twins shows their structure clearly. As Bill Leatherbarrow, BAA Lunar Section Director comments, the multiple west wall of Messier A is probably responsible for most of the historical anamalous observations of this pair.Moon2014-09-11-0142-DLAMoon2014-09-11-0142large-DLAMoon2014-09-11-0138-DLAMoon2014-09-11-0149-DLA