Lovely Lacerta.

Swadlincote 30/8/17 Celestron C6r.

Some light haze , the moon low along the south and it got slightly darker. This humidity acts as a heat sink , helping to produce good seeing . An evening with the delightful sliver of Lacerta, fields full of stars and some treasure.

Open clusters.
NGC 7209, a Christmas tree with a ring of stars.
NGC 7243 , trails of dusty small stars . There are many clouds of stars in these clusters.
NGC 7245, fainter and wide. NGC 7296 , an arrow head and a ring.
NGC 7394 , around 12 sloping stars.
IC 1434 , lovely and dusty inns field of stars.
IC 1442, dusty surrounded by darkness.
Fainter are Berkeley 96 and 98 and King 9.

Binaries, some gems here.
The triple h1735 (SAO 51698), a line at x50.
2 Lacertae (SAO 51904) gives a glimpse of the faint +11.6 companion.
Σ2902 (SAO 51957), pleasing wider view in a packed field.
Σ 2906 is beautifully close.
8 Lacertae is a wonderful multiple system , set in nebulosity.
12 Lacertae gives a wide white and blue, as does the challenging 13 Lacertae (SAO 52317).

A constellation well worth visiting for it’s dusty clusters and full views,

Microscopy of altered flour 31/8/2017

Hannah and I looked at some flour which had altered in appearance – it looked more clumpy. It had been around for some time. We wondered if it was still edible.

To compare, we looked initially at “good” (i.e. relatively new) white and wholemeal flour, and then compared images of the altered clumpy flour under the microscope.

Zeiss IM microscope, Bresser MikrOkular camera.

Andy and Hannah

White flour x4 objective 310817 – the following images show that good white flour is white/black/grey in colour with small amount of residual brown (residual wholemeal we assume not removed during cleaning process implemented to make flour white):

White flour x20 objective 310817:

Wholemeal flour x4 objective 310817 – the following photos show that wholemeal flour is very similar to white flour, except there is a lot more brown colour (wholemeal) in it – in both white and wholemeal flour circular carbohydrate areas are present in abundance and there is some clumpiness:

Wholemeal flour x20 objective 310817:

Altered white flour x20 objective. In the following photos, it becomes clear why the flour is altered in texture. Under a microscope the flour stands out from good white and wholemeal flour by having large amoutn green colouration in it (which immediately made us think that it was contaminated with fungal growth as this looked similar to our previous images of the green mold on bread). In addition, the clumps are significantly larger, as are the oval carbohydrate inclusions. The green fuzz appears to be located around the edge of the inclusions, suggesting fungal growth around the food source. We have been able to identify mycelia (fungal elements) confirming the diagnosis. We suspect that this is a form of penicillin – in any case no bacteria were seen, suggesting that the fungi are producing anti-bacterial substances which are killing off the bacteria. So, is the bread fit to eat? It could well be entirely fit to eat given its anti-bacterial properties but it does have fungal growth and we therefore recommended it was thrown away to be safe.

20x objective, showing mycelia:

Altered white flour x32 objective:

Altered white flour x40 objective:

Stand by your (Solar) scopes!

Big spot appearing (2674): “A big new sunspot is rotating into view over the sun’s eastern limb. AR2674 has two dark cores larger than Earth and sprawls more than 150,000 km from end to end. The active region is crackling with minor C-class solar flares. It is too soon to say if bigger explosions are in the offing. Amateur astronomers with safe solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.”

A little observing in France

We’ve had our last few summer holidays camping in France under wonderfully dark skies. As my interest in the night sky has grown I’ve wanted to bring my scope along- but as this would have involved deciding which of the children to leave behind, Mrs Leonard has said no! Inspired by what I’ve seen some of the club members achieve with much smaller scopes I found myself on eBay and eventually came away with a Meade ETX105. It has a nice sturdy mount with it, but with space really at a premium I was forced to use an alternative mount on this trip, otherwise known as a collapsible camping cupboard! It worked reasonably well, but rather lacks the heft and stability of the proper tripod…

Week 1 was something of a loss, with my not having accounted for the tall trees that covered the whole area, but one morning the moon did drift across the clearing our tent was pitched in and I ended up with a little audience of observers who came across from the playground to take a look. Also managed to get a couple of pictures…

Week 2 was rather better- the campsite was next to a busy road and rather light polluted, but a short drive to the beach (with Sam for company) solved that. The skies were pretty dark from 10pm onwards and once the scope was aligned we spent a long time looking at Saturn. It was noticeably higher in the sky than at home and the view was really clear and crisp in the 7mm eyepiece. It was only Sam’s second observing session so I spent the rest of the session teaching him the controller and looking at M13 Hercules Cluster, M31 Andromeda and M57 Ring Nebula. Hercules and Andromeda were bright and clear but the 4 inch struggled a bit with M57. The real highlight, though, was the great views without the scope of the Milky Way- clear and bright from out over the Atlantic 2/3 of the way across the sky to where the onshore light pollution washed it out a little. I’ve taken quite a few photos on various settings with the camera on a simple tripod and it’ll be a cloudy evenings project to try to turn them into something decent, but in the meantime a rather noisy jpeg is attached!

Canon SL1 / ISO 800 / f5.6 / 18mm / 60 secs exposure.
Rudimentary telescope mount…
Meade ETX105-EC / Canon SL1 ISO200 1/60 Sec


DSO spotting 28-29/08/2017

Finally!- a reasonable night for DSO spotting. The Moon had set, but the sky wasn’t as transparent as it might have been. Still, beggars can’t be choosers!

I started with NGC 7331 and the “Deer Lick” galaxy group in Pegasus. I imaged this some time ago, but I wanted to see if I could improve on it.

Then Planetary nebula hunting in Cygnus and Cepheus.

First NGC 7048, a reasonable size PN in Cygnus.

Then, a couple of small ones. NGC 7026 (the “Cheeseburger”) also in Cygnus.

Then NGC 7354, a small one in Cepheus.

Finally, NGC 7538, a really nice nebula that contains largest known protostar, also in Cepheus.

And so, to bed – – – .


Picture saved with settings embedded.


Nebula fest ! 28/8/17.

Swadlincote 28/8/17 Celestron C6r.

A light haze didn’t look promising , but gave surprising results. Seeing was absolutely spot on .
M17 ,”Swan nebula”, lovely sight with the Swan sitting on its pond. Even visible without the Oiii filter.
NGC 188 in Cepheus, “the ancient one” , some sight of our oldest open cluster, way above the galactic plane. Xi Cephei (Kurhah), white with a blue companion.
IC4756 (“Graff’s cluster”) in Serpens , a huge view at x30.
M2 , way below M15, I put x150 on this spectacular globular. It resolves with sparkly foreground stars.
NGC 6543 (“Cat’s eye nebula”), so very bright, took up to x200 to get a lighter core. Σ1878 in Draco, a lovely delicate binary with a whisper of a companion.
Epsilon Arietis challenging at 1.4″, but split cleanly , showing how good the seeing was.
M76 , which looked better without filters , as did the “bow tie ” of NGC 40.
NGC 7009, the “Saturn nebula” looked lovely with the filter, although shaped , little sign of the arms.
NGC 6946 (“fireworks galaxy”) , once again , no show , the milkiness of humidity taking away contrast of these fainter treasures.

A great night for some meandering and lingering around the sky, clear skies ! Nick.

Observing, sketching and hand-held afocal photography with smartphone of the solar disc in Streethay, Lichfield

We made use of the gorgeous bank holiday sunshine by getting our telescopes and Daystar Shark hydrogen alpha filters out to observe and sketch the solar disc. Nick Cox and Roger Samworth have really motivated us with their regular posts on this blog!

I really enjoyed sketching the sun. It slows everything down to sit at the eyepiece and simply let the world go by.

Damian drawing is the one below on black paper and the orange ones are mine. I have got a way to go to match him but does not matter – it us the taking part that counts!

The orange squash is acting a counter-weight on my scope!


Damian’s sketch (below):

 Andy’s sketches (below):

The following pictures are from the end of our session showing us with our drawings. Damian lent me his orange pencil and gave me a piece of black paper to try – I was very pleased with the results. I also include some photos taken at the eyepiece afocally using hand-held Samsung S7.

Damian’s sketches (below):

Andy’s sketches (below):

The following photo is taken with Samsung S7 from Damian’s Takahashi:

The following two photos are from my Equinox: