Author Archives: Neil Wyatt

About Neil Wyatt

Neil Wyatt is an environmentalist ecologist and a lifelong model maker – he had his first workshop at the age of about fourteen. He cut his teeth on Airfix models, but branched out into model boats and aircraft (that flew about as well as the boats). In his lathe thirties he discovered married life and a pile of ageing Model Engineer magazines and decided to take up the ‘ultimate hobby’ – making working things entirely from scratch – and bought a lathe. Whilst not claiming any exceptional talent, he gets great satisfaction from creating unusual working models and making and modifying tools and workshop equipment. His other hobbies include electronics, astronomy (especially astrophotography), playing guitar and bass and, when he has the energy, mountain biking. He somehow manages to combine being a environmental consultant with editing the magazine Model Engineers’ Workshop. Neil lives in Staffordshire with his wife, family and a collection of small to medium sized carnivorous mammals.

My New Equatorial Platform

This platform is mostly made from 3D printed parts, except obvious bits like plywood, screws, bearings and electronics.

It’s controlled by an Arduino Uno with an LCD keypad shield.

The final step will be finding some sky, polar aligning it and setting the tracking rates. Then hopefully some good planetary imaging!

M16 this summer.

This is the image I shared in tonight’s meeting, M16 the Eagle Nebula and cluster in Ha, with the ‘Pillars of Creation’ in the middle. Nearly 3 hours (34 5-minute exposures).

M16 Ha
M16 Ha

I also grabbed a luminance layer for the globular cluster M14 to use with my RGB data, and this Luminance only image of M11 to add to my ‘Messier Collection’.

This is classifies as an open cluster despite being quite compact, to me it looks more like a small but raggedy globular!

 

M11 The Wild Duck Cluster
M11 The Wild Duck Cluster

At last! Noctilucent Clouds

It’s taken me years to see, let alone photograph, noctilucent clouds.

Luna the Lab decided two trips into the garden weren’t enough last night, despite being let out at 11:50 and 1:15. I wasn’t annoyed though as the first two let me test my SQM which gave readings of 19.22 and 19.40 which suggests it’s in the right ball park.

But a couple of hours later she woke me up again, she’s obviously being fed too much.

I took thr meter out and the sky was already starting to lighten and read 18.8sih, but I noticed a few tufts of promising cloud right in the north between the trees.

I got Luna back in, dressed enough not to be arrested and legged it up to the Waterpark.

Thanks to the miracle of image stabilisation, some of my images came out OK co0nsidering they were >1s exposures!

I’m sure these are the ‘real deal’ because the stars were still out and it was just after 3:00am, the clouds were due north across about 45 degrees of the sky.

Noctilucent Clouds at Branston Water Park
Noctilucent Clouds at Branston Water Park
Noctilucent Clouds at LCS Container Park!
Noctilucent Clouds at LCS Container Park!

M13 – Great Cluster in Hercules

I’m particularly pleased with this image. I’ve been wandering around the southern sky picking up ‘missing Messiers’ for my collection, but a few nights ago I though I would try and get some better data for M13.

The initial red subs were a bit poor due to the lack of real darkness, so I took about an hour of subs and chose the best. For green and blue I took about half an hour’s worth of 2 ½ minute subs.

My first process was a bit meh, so I re-did it focusing on bringing out faint detail and being incredibly careful with curves not to bleach the core. Even then on my final curve stretch I had to mask out the core but was rewarded by an extraordinary number of very tiny stars in the outer parts of the cluster. View the image full size and zoom right in, or just check out the inset at the bottom of this post!

 

M13 - Great Cluster in Hercules
M13 – Great Cluster in Hercules

 

M13 zoomed in
M13 zoomed in

My recent images

After the recent floods, which luckily only affected our garage, it took a while before I unpacked all my astro kit as I’d packed up lots of other stuff, just in case.

I finally got back into gear a couple of weeks ago, and we had a run of good evenings. Here are the results. I’ve discovered I need to make the images smaller to upload. Some of these need more data:

M51 with Ha
M51 with Ha

 

Leo Triplet small
Leo Triplet small

 

Bodes small
Bodes small

 

Fox Fur Nebula
Fox Fur Nebula

 

M106 small
M106 small

 

Owl Nebula
Owl Nebula

 

M3 cropped
M3 cropped

 

NGC2903 small
NGC2903 small

 

Tracker Tester

Ages ago I wrote a simple BBC Basic for Windows program that slowly moves a single, white pixel across a blank computer screen. It uses the resolution, width and distance away of the screen to move the pixel more or less at sidereal rate, allowing it to be used to test tracking in daylight, even indoors!

I did post a link on SGL a couple of times then forgot about it, but I’ve just been asked if it’s OK to share it on a Facebook astronomy page.

The reminder made me think I ought to post the link here:

www.stubmandrel.co.uk/astronomy/152-tracker-tester

I’ll try and remember to bring it along to a mid-month meeting to do a demo!

tracker tester screenshot
tracker tester screenshot

Rosette Nebula in Ha

This is the result of last night’s ‘learning session’, thanks to Rob (who has a very nice little observatory!) for hosting.

Stack of the best 12 images, also using flats generated with Rob’s portable Flat-O-Matic which I think is going to be copied quite soon!

 

Rosette Nebula in Ha
Rosette Nebula in Ha

Here’s a version using the Ha layer as L on top of an old RGB one:

Rossette Ha as L
Rossette Ha as L