Author Archives: Peter Hill

November Meteors

The beginning of the month saw some varying  activity due to the Northern and southern Taurids. The Leonids around the 17/18 were preceded by higher activity on the 16th, also apparent on the comparison with 2016. Then a spike of activity on the 25th, several bright meteors were seen during the evening observing session, on the 25th,  at the SPA meeting at Preston Montford in Shropshire .

I have included the meteor information to allow comparison with data. There were no indications of the fireballs reported earlier in the week along the south coast.

Next month sees the Geminids 13/14 Dec and the Ursids, 22 Dec, with the moon position and phase favourable to both, here’s hoping for clear skies.

Finally a screenshot showing the meteor detection on the zero frequency line having adjusted the offset on the funcube dongle.

Pete Hill

Major Activity:


Duration Maximum
Leonids (LEO) November 13-20 Nov. 17/18

Moderate Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
Northern Taurids (NTA) October 12-December 2 Nov. 4-7
Southern Taurids (STA) September 17-November 27 Oct. 30-Nov. 7

Minor Activity

Radiant Duration Maximum
Andromedids September 25-December 6 Nov. 14/15
Alpha Monocerotids (AMO) November 13-December 2 Nov. 21
Alpha Pegasids October 29?-November 17? Nov. 1-12


Venus and Jupiter conjunction 13/11/17

Took a yomp over the fields on monday morning to get a clear eastern horizon just after 6 am, as I was setting up Venus was rising through the early morning glow a scintillating red spot light. All images taken Canon 450D on tripod with cable shutter release. All shot in raw and processed in P.S.6

Having taken images , quick dash back home to get off to London, hence delay in processing!

First image 18-250mm Sigma at 87mm ISO1600, F22, 1″

2nd image 180-500mm sigma at 500mm ISO1600, F22, 0.25″

3rd image same lens as image 2, at 180mm, ISO100, F22, 2″

Moon 180-500mm Sigma , at 500mm ISO100, F22, 0.1″

Pete H

Variable Stars

Following the mid-month meeting on 10th Nov here are some resources and suggestions for variable star observing:


The American variable star organisation and their beginners programme.


 The SPA site and beginners programme.


Calculator to forecast minima times for Algol (when it is in eclipse)

 Article by Gary Poyner.

 BAA variable star section, click on beginners on sidebar to go to beginners observing programme.


 To get started it was suggested that the following would make suitable targets, observing with naked eye or with binoculars (10×50)

Eclipsing Binaries:

Beta Persei (Algol), nightly observations but hourly either side of predicted minima ( see calculator)

Beta Lyrae, nightly observations, early evening , while still relatively high.

Pulsating Super Giants:

Delta Cephei, nightly observations.

Zeta Geminorum, nightly observations.

For all four targets see the SPA link ( 4th link-observing programme) for further notes and star charts with comparison stars, if you were at meeting you also have alternative star charts /comparison stars that were circulated.

Recording observations:

Date Day time Estimated brightness Estimated magnitude Conditions
07/03/10 1 22:30 Equal to epsilon and zeta perseus.

Dimmer than alpha perseus.

3.0 No moon, cold with low humidity, some high haze.
15/03/10 9 21:10 Brighter than epsilon and zeta perseus, but dimmer than alpha perseus. 2.2 Cold, no moon, high hazy cloud.
23/03/10 17 21:30 Brighter than epsilon and zeta perseus, but dimmer than alpha perseus. 2.2 Cool, light haze, moon first quarter, but 20Oto S.



Record in a similar format as above, compare variable to other stars on charts to get estimate of magnitude, remember lower the number the brighter it is.

Once you have collected enough data , have a go at plotting light curve, magnitude on vertical axis,with magnitude decreasing down the side , time on horizontal axis.

For Algol convert time from first observation  into hours, for the others days is fine.

Any queries come back to me,


Pete Hill




October Meteors.


here are the radar meteor recordings for October, the Draconids and Orionids being the main showers of the month although hampered by poor visibility again, although the all sky camera did pick a possible Draconid on the 10th Oct ( see earlier post re:BASMO).

The results for 2016 are also included as a comparison, although rates lower, similar pattern around the Draconids and Orionids.

I have included a summary of the showers during the month to compare with the recordings.

The final image shows false readings on the radar set up, the trace is the direct signal from Graves, due to atmospheric conditions. At 46Hz above zero line, which should represent the Graves frequency, it shows that the Funcube offset is 346Hz and not 300Hz that I had been using, will adjust this for the November series.

November sees the Leonids in the early hours of the 17/18, luckily it’s a new moon, lets hope for clear skies!

Major Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
Orionids (ORI) October 15-29 Oct. 21

Minor Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
Arietids (Autumn) September 7-October 27 Oct. 8/9
Delta Aurigids (DAU) September 22-October 23 Oct. 6-15
Eta Cetids September 20-November 2 Oct. 1-5
October Cetids September 8?-October 30? Oct. 5/6
October Cygnids September 22-October 11 Oct. 4-9
Draconids (GIA) October 6-10 Oct. 9/10
Epsilon Geminids (EGE) October 10-27 Oct. 18/19
Northern Piscids October 5-16 Oct. 12/13

Daylight Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
Sextantids September 24-October 9 Sept. 30-Oct. 4





















































Observing Log Friday 27/10/2017 7-9:30 pm

The forecast was correct, clear skies, a chance to used the skywatcher ST102 bought earlier in year and only used for solar work so far. ( see pic.1)

I started under the carport ,as moon was not visible from back garden, not quite first quarter, used it to complete lining up red dot finder, took some getting use to smaller image after the 8″ Newtonian or the 9.25″ SCT. When at IAS I bought a smartphone adapter to take afocal images using the wifes’ new smartphone, now was on opportunity to try it out, pic.2 shows adapter and phone, pic.3  image of moon, notice the chromatic aberration, however visually it was not noticeable. The image was taken with a 30mm plossl eyepiece with this 500mm focal length refractor this gives a mag of x17. The crater marked with a red dot in the centre is Ptolemaeus, at slightly higher magnifications the centre of crater appeared to have horizontal bands across it, is this an artefact, blemish on objective/ diagonal?? at a mag of x83 (6mm plossl) all was revealed there were shadow bands from the peaks on the Eastern crater wall, the wall reaches heights of 3000m (9000+ ft) and with the sun relatively low on the moons horizon the peaks cast some long shadows, it was fascinating watching the shadows shorten even over a relatively short period of time , Liz had taken her phone back, so I have attempted a sketch of the shadows cast over the crater floor ( see pic.4),  the floor is relatively smooth, having been flooded with lava, some very minor impact craters formed since, the darker shading on the west is due to floor slumping towards crater wall. This was the first time I have seen such marked shadows on a crater floor formed by the crater walls, shadows from central  peaks are usually observed and just blanket shadow from the wall, the continual changing of relative positions of sun and moon makes the terminator a dynamic visual environment, there is always something new to see, even in one evening.

I then relocated to the back garden, starting in the SW with Albireo in Cygnus, the 10mm plossl  ( x50) clearly showed B1 cyg ( Alberio) as a orange red K class star and B2 cyg B class blue star. Taking a line down to zeta Aq from Albireo, bisecting the line from Vega to Altair, just slightly left the Coat hanger asterism fell neatly into the field of view using a 40mm plossl ( x12.5) , normally I would use binoculars for this target, but the wider field of view afforded by this small refractor enables it to be seen in its entirety. Up into Lyra,aiming between Sulafat and Shellak to locate the Ring Nebula ( M57), fuzzy ring but no hint of central white dwarf in this planetary nebula. Continuing west into Hercules M13 and then up to M92, even with 6mm plossl ( x 83) not a lot of detail. Better with the double cluster in Perseus and as I headed to M31, Andromeda galaxy the cloud had rolled in bring the session to a close at around 9:30.

It was nice to get out with some clear skies and I found the AZ3 mount that came with the ST102 easy to use and manoeuvre and although the refractor shows some chromatic abberation as shown by the photograph of moon , visually it was not noticeable enough to be a problem.

here’s to more clear skies!!!

Pete H

Ophelia and Red Sky /Sun 16th October 2017

We were in Sunny Gloucestershire on the 16th when the skies and sun turned red, see first two images.

The state of the car after overnight rain suggested what the culprit was , see image 3, this was confirmed by a lecturer at Nottingham university, see image 4 and checkout this link

The actual air movement in the atmosphere had been tracked by NOAA, see image 5, the blue track at 2000m shows the movement over the Sahara and on towards UK courtesy of Ophelia( thanks to Stephen Burt of Reading Univ for this ) The final image shows Ophelia over Ireland and the trail of smoke from the fires in Portugal, which may or may not have also contributed to the gloomy atmosphere on Mon 16th.

Pete H


Comparison of Visible and CaK images of sunspots. (6th Oct2017)

Below are 4 pairs of images of sunspots 2683 (large one) and 2682 ( smaller one , only in first two images) taken on 6/10/17. No H alpha was taken as at the end of this sequence high  cirrus stopped any further imaging, in fact last CaK shot is diminished by the entrance of the high cirrus. Experiences of using CaK so far suggests that it brings out more detail in the faculae (bright spots) around sunspots , these are linked to the intense magnetic fields associated with sunspots. The other noticeable effect with CaK is the longer exposure time required, discussion at the IAS suggested that since the filter is double stacked, it requires a Herschel wedge without a ND.3 neutral density filter as supplied by Astrograph ( it’s on my list for Santa!!) , also choice of barlows can be crucial depending on coatings, will see what happens when I’ve tried the new Herschel wedge.

The images are laterally inverted, I haven’t flipped them.

Images are below and are self explanatory.

Pete H

Barton All Sky & Meteor Observatory (BASMO)

The Barton All Sky & Meteor Observatory (BASMO) is now operational with the addition of the All Sky camera and realignment of aerial which has started to work loose in mount. The radio section detects the reflections of the Graves Radar signal (near |Dijon) 143.05 MHz detected using the Yagi aerial( az 140 deg , inclination 20 deg) connected to a Fundongle pro+  and signal processed using SpectrumLab on laptop. The Allsky camera runs using Ispy and is set to record video if motion detected in the selected sectors. Unfortunately the All sky camera will not show the meteors detected by the radar ( usually over southern England/ channel/ France)

Images below as follows:

  1. BASMO aerial and Allsky camera
  2. BASMO attachment of camera using wickes bracket suggested by Ed
  3. BASMO Meteor detection top, allsky camera feed bottom.
  4. Radar meteor detection, long duration trace as meteor “burns” up leaving ionised trail
  5. Radar meteor detection showing Doppler shift of approx. 100Hz as meteor approaching Graves signal slows in atmosphere.
  6. BASMO  All Sky camera pointers.
  7. All sky camera and rain drops, design fault ,Ed forgot to include wiper blades!

Click on the links to show videos .

  1. Video clip showing effect of raindrops, giving false movement as security light comes on. falsemove
  2. Video clip showing Plane overhead. Plane
  3. Video clip showing Meteor trace, probably a Draconid. Meteor