Rosette Nebula in Ha

Always a bit tricky imaging under a bright moon, but even more so when you’re in clumsy mode. Last night I managed to disconnect the power from my mount whilst aligning. Twice! Then I dropped an eyepiece by slewing the scope without having it fixed properly (fortunately it landed on the rubber eye cup). Finally I spent ages trying to work out why I couldn’t focus my guide-scope until the penny finally dropped that I was twiddling with the locking ring and not the focuser. So I’m taking this picture as a victory of the scope over its owner!

15x 10 min subs – Canon 600d – 130 pd-s- 7nm Ha filter.


CCDSPEC Spectrometer/QHYCCD 6 camera – effect of turning on the fan

When I last used my CCDSPEC spectrometer with its QHYCCD6 camera, I was concerned about the number of apparent hot pixels appearing on the image. OK – it did not matter as the nature of the spectrum meant a few hot pixels were neither here nor there but still I wanted my new kit to work properly!

….Then I noticed that I had not been turning on the fan – so tonight I took pictures of the night sky (without telescope) using Nebulosity – with and without fan turned on the QHYCCD6 camera. The effect of cooling by this method is dramatic for these 30 second exposures as you can see below.

NB The spectrum of the night sky is just visible in the middle of each picture (30 second images).

All images from tonight’s session, including FITS files can be downloaded here:

QHY6 camera on CCDSPEC spectrometer – spectrum images of LRO night sky (30s exposure) without telescope – taken on 13/01/2019


With fan TURNED OFF:

With fan turned ON – only a couple of hot pixels remain:

Dark frame of fan turned ON:

Growing potatoes in Rosliston Martian Regolith Simulant

i turned 50 towards the end of last year and at the following RAG meeting our secretary Heather Lomas presented me with a tray of “Rosliston Martian Regolith Simulant” as a birthday present from the club. This particular Regolith simulant is very special as it is material from beneath the foundations of the new Peter Bolas Observatory on site that looks like it might have come from Mars! Of course no one knows exactly what Martian Regolith is like so for our purposes this material from beneath the forestry centre’s topsoil is good enough! I was quite excited to get such a historical present, remembering the foundation (pun intended) of our new observatory as well as giving me a chance to follow in the steps of the hero in the book “The Martian”. The Martian is a 2011 science fiction novel written by Andy Weir. It was his debut novel under his own name. The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars in the year 2035, and must improvise in order to survive. The Martian, a film adaptation directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, was released in October 2015.

In the story, Mark survives by growing potatoes in soil made from Martian Regolith and mixed with human faeces – the latter I do not intend to do so I will need to find an alternative….


Present from RAG:

Flexible container (foldable as I would of course need if I was going to Mars..) for growing potatoes….

Seed potatoes (3 small potatoes left over from last Sunday lunch) – put into egg box to force them to sprout read for planting in Rosliston Martian Regolith next month!

For the faecal element I need something like this….

Asteroid fly-by

According to “Spaceweather”:

“On Jan. 8th, asteroid 2019 AS5 flew past Earth only 8600 km above our planet’s surface. Nine hours after the flyby, it was discovered by the the Mt. Lemmon Survey telescope in Arizona. The asteroid was closer to our planet than many satellites.”

Note the word “after”! Useful that!

To be fair it goes on to say:

If the 1 to 2 meter-wide space rock had hit Earth (and it almost did) it would have caused a brilliant fireball in the atmosphere with sonic booms and scattered meteorites on the ground–but no serious damage.”