Neil Wyatt


I use handwarmer pouches as a simple alternative to a dew strap from my refractor and guidescopes.

You just open the plastic outer bag and use a rubber band to hold it in position near the lens cell.

The best deal I have found is this:

That’s about £20 for 20 pairs, so 50p a pack.

The packs contain salt and iron filings, and when opened moisture in the air causes the iron to rust over about ten hours giving a gradual but worthwhile release of heat.

They are non-toxic, but beware – if your labrador east one the salt content makes it a very effective emetic…


Observing Report- 17/11/18

Sam and I met up with Neil Wyatt on Saturday night for an excellent night’s observing and imaging at Brankley Pastures near Barton under Needwood.

Neil was already setting up his imaging rig when we arrived at 8pm, and Sam and I got our 8 inch dob out to get started quickly. Unfortunately we quickly found that it was a night of absent mindedness: I’d forgotten the trusses for the larger dob, Sam had left behind 5 of the 6 pages of his lunar observing plan and Neil didn’t have the memory card for his camera. I can see that if I’m going to do more of these trips a checklist is going to be essential…

The moon was high in the sky so we started off with doing planetary and lunar with Sam doing the finding:
– Mars- polar cap just about vsible but couldn’t see other surface features.
– Lunar- Copernicus, Tycho, Altai Scarp, Theophilus, Cyrillus, Catharina, and Clavius (just around the same time Roger was imaging it).

Unfortunately this was as far as the first page of the Lunar 100 log gave us. So next we tried for a few deep sky objects- looking at Vega, the Double double and the Pleiades. Neil also brought up the Pleiades in his ED66 and it definitely looked better it the little frac with wonderful contrast and sharpness. I then ran Sam home, which was a good opportunity to pick up some Hot Chocolate and Dob trusses!

On my return the sky was darkening with the setting moon and we switched to the 14inch for some more deep space stuff with views of M1 (faint), The Auriga Open Clusters M36 & M37, the Ring, Andromeda, M81/82 pair and the highlight of the night: M42. We switched between the dob and the ED66 and used various magnifications, eyepieces and filters. At 205x, without filters in the Dob we both managed to spot the 5th brightest star in the Trapezium. There is a serious risk of my getting stuck on this target all winter…

A really enjoyable evening, and a pleasure to observe in good company!

A note on the site: Brankley Pastures is a Staffs Wildlife Trust site near Barton- so quite convenient for many RAG members and where- at least in winter- it’s possible to observe with minimal risk of being disturbed. It’s not a completely dark site- there’s a significant patch of light pollution to the North (presumably from Tutbury), and another to the North East from Burton. But overhead the skies are much darker than home and there is a great southern horizon. It was brilliant, as the moon set, to see the sky come alive- with Auriga turning from an empty circle to one rich with naked eye detail. Just next time I need to remember all the key parts of my kit!

My 2018 Solar System

I’ve been quiet for a while, largely due to car problems, hopefully behind me for now!

I’ve managed to image all the planets (except Earth and poor Pluto!) this year, although Uranus and Neptune were fuzzed up by poor seeing and Mercury is fairly random – I got a shot of it in the sunset above Barton under Needwood from the flyover on the A38! After darkening the background and resampling to three time bigger I was left with a red dot that is Mercury but I won’t pretend it’s ‘proper’ image.


Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Gigantic Moon Image from last night

Great conditions for moon imaging last night. I got 251 subs using my 150PL and Canon 450D at just 1/2000 exposure. The result was so good I drizzled it in AS!3 and gota lovely big image, but it deosn’t seem to want to upload (you can see it on Stargazer’s Lounge). Here’s an un-drizzled version that still benefits from looking at the full-res version.

A really nice moon :-)
A really nice moon 🙂