Rhys Thornett

Rhys’ photos of deep sky objects taken with hand-held Samsung Note 10+ phone on Orion Optics UK 10 inch Dobsonian Telescope on equatorial platform 15-16/5/2020

Hand-held photos by Rhys.

I was shocked that he was able to take photos of galaxies and show spiral structure (see M51 below), or dust lanes (see M82 Cigar Galaxy below), demonstrate differences in compactness of globular clusters (see M13 and M92 below), and see into the centre of a planetary nebula (see M57 Ring Nebula below).

Demonstrates the impressive capabilities of the camera on the Samsung Note 10+ phone (maximum ISO 3200 setting and maximum aperture (F1.5)), exposure length 1-4 seconds – so also demonstrates Rhys’ ability to hold the camera still! These photos would not be possible without the large 10″ aperture afforded by the Orion Dob, and the ability of the Equatorial Platforms USA equatorial platform (built for 52 degrees North) to stabilise the highly magnified images.

Interestingly, Rhys was unable to photograph these objects with longer focal length eyepieces in most cases (pictures below mostly from 17mm eyepiece) – as he needed a bright enough star in the field of view – he then touched on screen on phone over that star and held it for a second to turn on focus lock for the star. Often the galaxy/cluster could hardly be seen on the phone but once photo taken was evident on the image.

These are all single shots hand-held to the eyepiece.


M13, globular cluster in Hercules:

M92, globular cluster in Hercules:

M82, Cigar Galaxy in Ursa Major:


M51, interacting galaxy pair in Ursa Major:



M57, Ring Nebula in Lyra:


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