Rhys Thornett

Lightning video & photos from Lichfield, UK, 26/07/2019 between 0223-0250

Rhys took the following video/photos on our Samsung S7 phone using the slow-mo video function and edited to stitch the lightning strikes together using VideoPad Video Editor.

Video & photos are copyright Rhys Thornett, 2019. All rights reserved.

Photos are single frames from the video.


Video links first with photos of good single frames from video at bottom of post:

Video hosted on YouTube:

Video hosted on 1and1 (mp4):



Spectroscopy Vega, Arcturus, Sadr, failed attempt to take spectrum M57, using CCDSPEC on Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm on Manfrotto mount

Yesterday the sky cleared after raining for a large part of the day. Rhys and I tried to take a spectrum of the Ring Nebula M57 using a new combined flip mirror/off axis guider/hand-guided on Manfrotto video mount. Unfortunately, the experience showed clearly that these nebulae are very faint and we will need to use GOTO power-driven mount to keep the object on the spectroscopy slip whilst taking spectra of these objects.

We did obtain a spectrum of Vega (for calibration), a spectrum of Arcturus and for the first time a spectrum of Sadr.


Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm OTA, with finder scope with illuminated eyepiece, Teleskop Express combined flip mirror/off axis guider and astrometric eyepiece, CCDSPEC with Meade XY adjustable illuminated eyepiece. The experience last night indicated another XY adjustable illuminated eyepiece would be a better choice to the astrometric eyepiece on the combined flip mirror/off axis guider and in fact a flip mirror might be a better choice to the combined flip mirror/off axis guider as will direct more light to the eyepiece (below):

Calibrating spectrum of Vega (using know Vega lines):

Calibration information on Vega lines I have determined previously (see https://roslistonastronomy.uk/re-analysis-of-vega-spectrum-from-4-8-2018):



Vega from 8/6/2019:

Arcturus (spectral class K1.5IIIFe-0.5):


With an apparent visual magnitude of 2.23, Gamma Cygni is among the brighter stars visible in the night sky. The stellar classification of this star is F8 Iab, indicating that it has reached the supergiant stage of its stellar evolution.

We initially guided to Sadr using green lazer on finder show – carefully aligned so point of lazer coincided with CCDSPEC slit – this meant that we did not need to use illuminator on eyepiece – the green lazer was sufficient to show up the guiding reticule on the illuminated eyepiece and a lot fainter than the red light on that eyepiece – we demonstrated that this is an effective method for guiding to fainter stars.

Sadr – this time spectrum without using green lazer:


Continuing to fix roof on our log cabin observatory

This post follows on from our previous post:

Next stage of putting new shingles on roof of our log cabin/observatory in Lichfield

Rhys and I completed the rows of shingles on our observatory roof in our garden. The most difficult bit was the final row at the apex, which involved particular cuts of the shingles (as per IKO video on YouTube).

Rhys did most of the difficult work up on the roof of the log cabin today – and the final look of the roof is excellent due to his carefulness re: alignment, etc.

We tested the roof afterwards using a hosepipe and not a drop of water leaked inside so looks like a job well done. Very pleased.

Now I need to finish off the edges. I am going to paint the cabin with creosote (the real McCoy) and get it up into all the nooks and crannies I get reach under the edges of the shingles before tacking them down along the edge. I will then screw batons along the edges to hide the edges of the shingles and improve the look. I still need to pop into Tippers in Lichfield and buy these batons.

Today, Rhys and I walked down to Wilkes to buy paintbrushes, including an extendable one and another for getting around corners. All this effort is because the last time I painted the log cabin with creosote I got a little bit on my arm and it irritated it for a week. I will be wearing goggles and I have also bought some of those veterinary gloves that go right up your arms to protect me this time. Horrible stuff – but then since I painted the cabin with it three years ago there has been no more fungus appearing.


Next stage of putting new shingles on roof of our log cabin/observatory in Lichfield

Rhys and I addressed the back of the log cabin today. In a previous post I described how the roofing felt on the observatory was blown off in recent high winds and how I started the process of re-roofing the cabin with shingles. Ed Mann has meant me a ladder which is an absolute God-send for this work as the cabin is 2.4m high and I am a bit short! My own step ladder is not up to the task.

My son Rhys, also member of RAG, is somewhat taller than me and this really helped today as we successfully shingles all but one row and the apex of the back of the observatory together.

NB for anyone wondering we were not allowed to have an observatory or dome in our garden (household rules!) And in any case there are a lot of trees at bottom of garden which obscure views of sky and this was where the observatory had to go….so instead the log cabin has double doors and a ramp to allow the 16 inch Dobsonian on castors to roll out on to the lawn.

This follows from previous post:

New shingles on front of our observatory in Lichfield 11/5/2019


Next post in this series:


New shingles on front of our observatory in Lichfield 11/5/2019

Re-roofing hone observatory after previous roof blew off in recent storm. Today, got quite a bit of front done. The tarpaulin is a temporary cover tacked down between repair sessions to previous ingress water before the new roof if water-proof. Rhys and I have never done this before so lots of lookong at videos on YouTube. Hopefully we have got it right!


Next post in series:

Next stage of putting new shingles on roof of our log cabin/observatory in Lichfield

Repairing roof on LRO log cabin 14/4/2019

Plastic edging which diverts water into guttering and roof underlay being put onto front of log cabin today (our home observatory). Part of repair after roofing felt blown off in recent high winds. We will be fitting shingles to the roof.

This post following from previous one:

Roof renovation on log cabin LRO 13/4/2019

Andy & Rhys

Observing Log 21-22/2/2019; Lichfield; Andrew & Rhys Thornett, Sue & Chris

Observing Log 21-22/2/2019


Andrew & Rhys Thornett, Sue & Chris

See also photos of the Moon taken during this session:

Photographs of Moon 22/2/2019 – Meade Lightbridge 16″ Dobsonian Telescope, Samsung S7 Phone hand held, Lichfield

Orion Nebula, M 42, NGC 1976, LBN 974, Meade Lightbridge 16 inch with 20mm ES and UHC. Filter helps to improve view significantly. Tonight with Sue and Chris, new comers to astronomy, and my son Rhys Looks green in UHC, reflecting oxygen content.

Moon,301, A great chance to describe the formation. Craters on moon, impact vs. volcanic features, ghost craters, formation of mares.

M 35, NGC 2168, Next stop to show Sue and Chris an open cluster and explain this is what would have happened to our sun before it separated from its siblings.

Pinwheel Cluster, M 36, NGC 1960,Another open cluster for the duo to observe and admire. Lots of oos and arrs.

Bode’s Nebulae, Cigar Galaxy, Ursa Major A,M 82,NGC 3034,UGC 5322,PGC 28655,MCG 12-10-11,CGCG 333-8,Arp 337,IRAS 09517+6954, Chris managed to see this – well done to him he got averted vision the first time I told him how to use this technique.

Bode’s Nebulae, M 81,NGC 3031,UGC 5318,PGC 28630,MCG 12-10-10,CGCG 333-7,IRAS 09514+6918,2MASS 09553318+6903549, Sue had difficulty with the previous galaxy but was able to see this one. Well done to her – many folks can’t see galaxies first time they look through a telescope. Sue and Chris were awed by the idea that these galaxies were 12 million light years away and so the light we see left them 12 million years ago. The two galaxies were both nearly in Dobson’s hole – right nuisance for trying to get them in centre of eyepiece!

It is now 22:57 and my guests and Rhys have gone leaving me alone with the sixteen inch beastie and a rising virtually full Moon.

Whirlpool Galaxy, Lord Rosse’s Nebula, Question Mark, M 51,NGC 5194,UGC 8493,PGC 47404,MCG 8-25-12,CGCG 246-8,Arp 85,VV 403, Not much more than the condescend central nuclei of the two cores and very faint surrounding haze to see tonight.

M 108,NGC 3556,UGC 6225,PGC 34030,MCG 9-18-98,CGCG 267-48,CGCG 268-1,IRAS 11085+5556,Just seen VERY faint.

Owl Nebula, M 97,NGC 3587,ARO 25,PK 148+57.1,PN G148.4+57.0,VV 59,Not able to observe even after I added in UHC filter. However very humid tonight, with condensation over all equipment and sky not particularly clear plus bright Moon.

M 109,NGC 3992,UGC 6937,PGC 37617,MCG 9-20-44,CGCG 269-23,IRAS 11550+5339,IRAS 11549+5339,Failed to observe this.

Double Cluster, h Persei, NGC 869,C 14,The view with 20mm ES through the 16” not as awe inspiring as in the 10” Dobsonian in the past due to lack of contrast between object and background – the 16 inch has collected more of the background goo which is a shame – still the Double Cluster is a pretty sight.

Although background sky glow is amplified by large mirror, so is detail in objects and I can clearly see difference between denser Milky Way star clouds in this region and less dense areas reflecting what is seem on Sky Safari.

IC 1805, The Heart Nebula is in a less dense area of the Milky Way and this leads to a darker background and I found that I dropped quickly onto the central brightest knot in this brighter core of the Heart Nebula.

NGC 896,IC 1795,LBN 645,I also could find without difficulty the brightest part of this area of the Heart Nebula as well. Note only the brightest bit of each of these two regions was visible and other parts of the Heart and Soul Nebula were not visible tonight.

M 103, NGC 581, A smudge in the 20mm eyepiece.

Tr 1, Could not find/see this.

NGC 663, C 10, Several bright stars in easily identifiable pattern within cluster made this easy to spot tonight.

NGC 659, Got it eventually due to the brighter identifiable stars but for a usually easily found cluster it was more than usually difficult to observe tonight – not sure if this was due to light pollution or from bright Moonlight.

NGC 654, Faint smudge around bright ster – seen.

IC 1747, ARO 91,PK 130+01.1,PN G130.2+01.3,VV 7,I am very pleased with my observation of this magnitude 13 planetary nebula. It just goes to show that highly condensed objects can show through light pollution even if relatively dim. This one was just seen as a mildly out of focus star with 14 mm explore scientific eyepiece. When I increased the magnification using my 6 mm ethos eyepiece, the out of focus star became an obvious planetary nebula, although relatively faint. I could see it by direct vision. No filter was used for this observation. Another first tonight is that this is now the first note that I have written using the dictation feature in iPad/Sky Safari. It works well!

NGC 609,Could not see this….not surprising…11tn magnitude and no bright stars.

NGC 559, C 8, I thought I had found this but – no – on checking it with higher magnification eyepieces it turned out only to be some stars but no cluster. I’ve never seen this object before so I don’t exactly know what it looks like. I only have the picture that was shown on Sky Safari. That’s the thing with this Star hopping – I find that I don’t always find the objects that I’m looking for but I guess that’s part of the fun – it’s like fishing really.

Owl Cluster, Dragonfly Cluster, Kachina Doll Cluster, ET Cluster, NGC 457,C 13,Really not impressive tonight perhaps due humidity/big scope/observation really near top trees/moonlight?.

Moon, 301, I finished off by going back to the Moon and admiring the detail of craters using the 6mm Ethos. I was able to see vertical grooves in the central peak of one particular crater. In another crater, the detail in the peripheral walls was amazing but the centre of the crater was totally flat suggesting that was previously filled by a lava flow. Both of these and others were visible along the edge of the moon. I took some photographs of some of these craters using my Samsung S7 smart phone, hand held at the eyepiece. Not the best photographs in the world but good memories of tonight. I’ve enjoyed the evening even though the quality of the sky is poor. Even now, I can count only around 20 or so bright stars with my naked eye in the sky and I’m not able to see any faint stars without optical aid. However, there is something amazing about getting outside with my telescope. I find it peaceful, although I wish the noise of cars would go away in the middle of the night! It is also wonderful to have had a chance to introduce some new people to our hobby and to the wonders of the night sky. I’m sure that John Dobson would’ve been proud of me tonight!

Packed away now at 00:45. For the first time tonight, I’m going to leave my telescope outside until the morning. I’ll pack the rest of the stuff away but I think it will be safer to put the 16 inch way in the morning when the Sun is up and I can see what I’m doing. It rolls on casters but it does weigh 100 kg so if it were to fall over there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

It is also possible that the forecast for tomorrow might change in which case we could end up with another clear evening. Having the telescope already set up outside would then be helpful.