Peter Hill

April Meteors

The main shower in April is the Lyrids, but as the table below shows there are other showers present as well.

Major Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
Lyrids (LYR) April 16-25 Apr. 22

Minor Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
Tau Draconids March 13-April 17 Mar. 31-Apr. 2
Librids March 11-May 5 Apr. 17/18
Delta Pavonids March 21-April 8 Apr. 5/6
Pi Puppids (PPU) April 18-25 Apr. 23/24
April Ursids March 18-May 9 Apr. 19/20
Alpha Virginids March 10-May 6 Apr. 7-18
April Virginids April 1-16 Apr. 7/8
Gamma Virginids April 5-21 Apr. 14/15

Daylight Activity:

Radiant Duration Maximum
April Piscids April 8-29 Apr. 20/21

The total meteor activity detected for April was 1790.

The average daily rate was 60 and the average hourly rate 2.5

The max hrly rate was 11  during the hours of 9 & 11 on 30th April

The max dly rate was 93 on 23rd April with hourly counts of 10 during the hours of 4, 9 & 11.

Maximum activity for the Lyrids occurred during daylight as did a lot of this months activity.

The daily rate graph and hourly rate graph are listed below, the Lyrid max is marked on both, the daily rate for 2017 is also included for comparison, it would appear more meteors were detected this year. The month of May brings the Eta Aquarids over the weekend of the 5th/6th, which will be competing with a bright waning Gibbous moon.

Pete H

 

Solar Array

Today allowed me to finally get my Solar array set up. After several attempts at balancing and positioning all the components and making modifications I was able to set up all 3 scopes in a balanced configuration.

Then using the Kendrick Solar finder on the central scope (Evostar 120) and setting the tracking to solar rate I then adjusted the alignment of the ST 102 and the PST, so that all 3 scopes showed full disk of sun in centre of field of view.

The idea is that:

the central scope will give white light images of the sun using a Herschel wedge with an ND3 filter.

the smaller ST102 refractor will give CaK images using a Herschel wedge without any filter and imaged with DMK41 mono ccd camera with Baader Calcium K filter fitted.

the PST will give H alpha images.

Today I was only using set up visually , to align scopes, so I used filtered Herschel wedge in the Evostar 120, a baader Solar film on front of ST 102 and the PST was used as normal. There were no sunspots visible and in H alpha a noticeable prominence at 4/5 o-clock position as registered by Roger this morning, no other prominences visible, nor was there much surface detail. No CaK detail as was not using camera, the sun was very variable , but there were enough bright spells this afternoon between 2 and 4pm to allow the alignment of all three scopes.

The mount was constructed with a piece of 10mm thick Aluminium bar 10cm wide and 35 cm long attached to upper side of lower vixen bar via two M6 bolts.

Two vixen bars were then attached to upper surface of Aluminium bar via M6 bolts, two sets of ADM mounting rings of suitable size were then clamped onto these vixen bars.

(ADM rings and vixen bars from First Light Optics.)

By adjusting screws in Rings I was able to align both scopes to get full disk in centre field of view, to remove scopes the top adjusting screw only in each ring is taken out, so when  scopes placed back in , tightening this screw only should put them back in aligned position, all bar a slight tweak.

To ensure the system was balanced about the axis running along the length of the Evostar, extra masses were added under the PST, these were attached via an M10 bolt with head removed and centre tapped with M6 thread, then attached to vixen bar with M6 screw head bolt through Vixen bar and M10 bolt to hold masses in place., this can be seen on photo below with scopes removed from rings.

By experiment on table top , approx. 1.5Kg was required on PST side to balance rig, brought 4 small masses from Astro Buy & sell, and drilled out centres to fit bolt. All we want now are some clear skies and sunspots!!

Thanks to Lee for advice on design and initial drilling and tapping of holes / threads.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March Meteors

March is not blessed with a conspicuous meteor shower but there are plenty of minor showers overlapping.

Minor Activity

Radiant Duration Maximum
Eta Draconids March 22-April 8 Mar. 29-31
Beta Leonids February 14-April 25 Mar. 19-21
Rho Leonids February 13-March 13 Mar. 1-4
Leonids-Ursids March 18-April 7 Mar. 10/11
Delta Mensids March 14-21 Mar. 18/19
Gamma Normids (GNO) March 11-21 Mar. 16/17
Eta Virginids February 24-March 27 Mar. 18/19
Pi Virginids February 13-April 8 Mar. 3-9
Theta Virginids March 10-April 21 Mar. 20/21

Daylight Activity

Radiant Duration Maximum
March Aquarids February ??-April ?? Mar. 15-18

The total meteor activity recorded for the month using the fundongle pro+ on the Graves frequency was 1116, there was a daily average of 36 with an hourly average of 1.5 The maximum daily count was 60 recorded on 19th March as was the max hourly count of 13.

This peak activity coincided with the peak activity of the Beta leonids, delta mensids and eta Virginids. Other minor peaks can be identified using table above.

A post on the UK Radio Meteor discussion group on the 19th flagged up a long duration event picked up by an observer at Emsworth in Hampshire., I didn’t find any visual reports of this daytime event.

Checking my logs this event had also been recorded at Barton, although spread across two screens.

The event was also recorded in Lincoln ( note the vertical, rather than horizontal waterfall screen)

Also recorded in Loughboro’

April is now with us and as well as several minor showers there is the Lyrid shower to look forward to over the 21/22 of the month , peak 11:00 – 22:00 BST on 22nd April. Moon in its first quarter should not cause any problems and for Lunar observers the Lunar X and V are at peak visibility around 21:40 BST on sun22 April.

 

clear skies

 

Pete H

Observing report: 20/03/18 19:15

Clearing skies approaching sunset held the promise of Venus and Mercury, as well as a young crescent moon. 19:15 pm went out to front of house armed with 7×50 binoculars, Young crescent moon, with earthshine visible at about 30 deg in the WSW, Venus also visible with naked eye ,near enough W and low down at 5 deg , grazing the chimney pots and playing hide and seek through low cloud bank to the west. No sign of mercury visually, but with binoculars could be located a couple of degrees to right and above Venus, even when I knew where it was , still couldn’t discern it visually, 5 mins later cloud bank hid Venus visually, could still pick it out with binoculars and mercury was getting lost in a bank of higher wispy cloud.

Worth looking out for if clear at sunset.

 

Pete H

February Meteors.

February is not noted for its meteor showers, only a handful of minor showers and some daytime showers.

Minor Activity

Radiant Duration Maximum
Aurigids January 31-February 23 Feb. 5-10
Alpha Centaurids (ACE) February 2-25 Feb. 8/9
Beta Centaurids February 2-25 Feb. 8/9
Delta Leonids (DLE) February 5-March 19 Feb. 22/23
Sigma Leonids February 9-March 13 Feb. 25/26

Daylight Activity

Radiant Duration Maximum
Capricornids-Sagittariids January 13-February 28 Jan. 30-Feb. 3
Chi Capricornids January 29-February 28 Feb. 13/14

The radar reflections using Graves, gave a total count of 1140 meteors, with an average daily count of 41 and average hourly count of 2 (1.7), the max hourly count observed was 7 and max daily count 62. The contributions to activity from the Centaurids , Leonids and Capricornids are discernible on the charts below. March is another month of no notable shower, but lots of minor showers.

Clear Skies

Pete H

 


January Meteors.

The main meteor activity this month around the 3rd/4th of January with the Quadrantids peaking in the early hours of the 4th Jan. Graves decided to go off line between 09:00 and 15:00 on the 3rd Jan. ( see red block on hourly plot).

The average hourly rate during the month was 2.2, with an average daily rate of 52.3. The variations during the month are due to the combinations of minor showers during the month, these are listed in table below.

I omitted the total count for 2017 in my new year post, this was 16,727with an average daily count of 46. It will be interesting to see what Andy’s magnetic collector picks up over the year.

 

Radiant Duration Maximum
Zeta Aurigids December 11-January 21 Dec. 31/Jan. 1
January Boötids January 9-18 Jan. 16-18
Delta Cancrids (DCA) December 14-February 14 Jan. 17
Canids January 13-30 Jan. 24/25
Eta Carinids January 14-27 Jan. 21/22
Eta Craterids January 11-22 Jan. 16/17
January Draconids January 10-24 Jan. 13-16
Rho Geminids December 28-January 28 Jan. 8/9
Alpha Hydrids January 15-30 Jan. 20/21
Alpha Leonids January 13-February 13 Jan. 24-31
Gamma Velids January 1-17 Jan. 5-8

 

Happy New Year from BASMO

New year celebrations caught by the all sky camera.

Below are the daily and hourly meteor counts for December, the peaks for the Geminids and Ursids are clearly shown. Unfortunately Graves went off line between 20:00 on 13/12/17 and 08:00 on 14/12/17. The increase in activity on 31st is beginning of Quadrantids, which will be peaking on the 3/4 Jan.

Here is a comparison with December 2016, Graves went off line last December for most of the 29th Dec.


This final plot shows the daily meteor activity throughout 2017, the major showers are marked, for more information on meteor showers go to http://meteorshowersonline.com/

Happy New Year

Pete Hill

 

Variable Stars – Update.

  1. Mira in Cetus is about to increase in brightness- see attached section of SPA notification.

Mira the Wonder Star approaches maximum

The star Omicron Ceti, Mira, has a special place in the hearts of variable star observers, as it was one of the first stars to be recognised as being variable. It spends most of its time well below naked-eye visibility, but then over a matter of just a few weeks it brightens up and again joins the constellation pattern of Cetus.
    It was this behaviour, first spotted in the 16th century, that earned it the name of Mira, meaning ‘Wonderful’. Until that time, stars were supposed to be fixed and unchanging.
     Mira has recently brightened and is now again just visible to the naked eye, though at the moment it is still around magnitude 5, which is on the verge of visibility from most UK locations. However, it should get brighter, as its maximum is expected to be in a month or six weeks, around mid to late January.
     A normal maximum is around magnitude 3.6, which would make it visible from typical UK suburban skies but not dramatically obvious. However, because the star is brightening fairly early in its rather irregular cycle of around 332 days, it could be that it becomes significantly brighter than usual, so it is well worth watching out for.
     The peaks of 2007, 2010 and 2011 all reached around magnitude 2, so Mira then became virtually the brightest star in Cetus. In some years, maximum occurs when the star is too close to the Sun to be observed, but the coming maximum will take place when the star is easily visible in the evening sky.
     Use the chart here to pick out Mira, which is best found by first using the stars of Aries to locate the brighter stars of the Head of Cetus, which is shown by a polygon just above Mira itself.
     To make estimates of its magnitude by comparing it with nearby stars, take a look at our Variable Star Section’s news story, which provides a list of comparison stars and their brightnesses. There is also a link to more information about Mira.

2. The latest edition of Sky at Night Magazine (January 2018) also has information about Mira (p.59) as well as an article by Paul Abel on how to estimate the brightness of variable stars. ( p.79/80)
Clear skies
Pete Hill

Winter Solstice – Solargraph.

On the 21st June I set up my solargraph, this had a0.3mm laser drilled hole ( as supplied by the pinhole factory, also resistant to bird attack ( although I’ve had no problems previously)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was sat on the end of my raspberry canes on the allotment.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 21st Dec I removed it , opened it up in a dark room with a red light and placed on Epson scanner, scanned at 1200dpi, in colour and saved as a .tif file for processing in Photoshop, see image below, had to repeat scan as first image contained some very strange artifacts, tinsely bits from scanning the Christmas card from Rosliston forestry centre!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was processed in Photoshop CS6, first flipping horizontally to put image right way round and then inverting the played with levels, curves contrast and exposure, final image below, with camera view for comparison beside it. ( enlarge solar graph, shows detail better.)

Happy Solstice- Pete Hill