Sunday Observing / Imaging (05/08/18)

Started the day hoping to catch the latest sunspot  only to find once I’d set everything up it had disappeared, along with any filaments and prominences, absolutely nothing, even scanning the disc in the PST with the Hyperion zoom set on 8mm, nothing!

Come the evening I’d set up the 9.25″ Celestron SCT on HEQ5 pro under the carport to get a view south, by 9:30 pm Venus was very low in the Western sky and Jupiter was visible above my neighbours roof top, visually all 4 moons were visible and the major cloud bands were visible on Jupiter, imaging was a different story very wobbly, whether image was in focus or not was a bit hit and miss, even using the electric control on the feather touch focuser, using the ADC made some difference but not a lot. I captured an avi of 1000 frames using Celestron neximage5 camera the best 500 were stacked using Autostakkert and tweaked brightness, contrast RGB alignment and wavelets in Registax6 with a final tweak in Photoshop CS6. Really not worth the effort.










As Jupiter passed out of view Saturn was nicely placed , visually OK, Cassini divison clearly visible but imaging wise very hard work, same process as for Jupiter.






Just past midnight Mars came into view, very low, visually could make out S. polar cap and hint of some markings, poor atmospherics and the recent dust storm don’t help, a complete contrast to 2015 when it was a lot higher and major features like Syrtis major were clearly visible. Imaging , helped to enhance the dark light areas, processed as above Checking helped to identify features visible at time of observation.

Moon and Venus 15/07/18

Now 2 days old the moon at 11% illumination presented it self in the evening sky at an elevation of approx. 12 degrees at 21:30, easily visible, unlike yesterday when I could only pick it out using binoculars.

Its companion this evening was Venus, easily visible unlike mercury of the previous evening. Didn’t have to travel any further than front lawn for these shots.

Observing report: 20/03/18 19:15

Clearing skies approaching sunset held the promise of Venus and Mercury, as well as a young crescent moon. 19:15 pm went out to front of house armed with 7×50 binoculars, Young crescent moon, with earthshine visible at about 30 deg in the WSW, Venus also visible with naked eye ,near enough W and low down at 5 deg , grazing the chimney pots and playing hide and seek through low cloud bank to the west. No sign of mercury visually, but with binoculars could be located a couple of degrees to right and above Venus, even when I knew where it was , still couldn’t discern it visually, 5 mins later cloud bank hid Venus visually, could still pick it out with binoculars and mercury was getting lost in a bank of higher wispy cloud.

Worth looking out for if clear at sunset.


Pete H

Venus and Jupiter conjunction 13/11/17

Took a yomp over the fields on monday morning to get a clear eastern horizon just after 6 am, as I was setting up Venus was rising through the early morning glow a scintillating red spot light. All images taken Canon 450D on tripod with cable shutter release. All shot in raw and processed in P.S.6

Having taken images , quick dash back home to get off to London, hence delay in processing!

First image 18-250mm Sigma at 87mm ISO1600, F22, 1″

2nd image 180-500mm sigma at 500mm ISO1600, F22, 0.25″

3rd image same lens as image 2, at 180mm, ISO100, F22, 2″

Moon 180-500mm Sigma , at 500mm ISO100, F22, 0.1″

Pete H

Venus and Mars conjunction 6th October 2107

Although closer the previous day, as usual the clouds got in the way, but for once the forecast for Friday morning was correct and in the east just after 6am Venus could be seen blazing away and as the eyes adjusted it was possible to make out the fainter orange hue of Mars close by to the right and slightly above, sigma Leo was visible above this pairing of Venus and Mars. Between 06:00 and 06:30 the pair climbed higher in the dawn sky before being enveloped in the approaching dawn.

Pete H



Venus and Mars (there’s a song about that)

Venus is shining strongly in the evening sky, even brighter than Jupiter in the morning sky, finally cleared the roofs opposite so had a go at imaging it, tried a different approach this time, have previously attached the DSLR to eyepiece using T ring and adapter, this time tried it with the DMK42 mono CCD camera with a red filter, to remove any chromatic aberration. Used 120mm Evostar  refractor on HEQ5pro, sidereal tracking mode, max frame of 15fps with DMK41 , #23A filter attached, 600 frame .avi files recorded with, no magnification, x2 Barlow and x5Barlow, also imaged Mars to left and above Venus with no magnification.

All images produced from stacking .avi in Autostakkert, wavelets in Registax6 and final processing/sizing in Photoshop.6



Venus with no magnification, slightly gibbous (about 60%),will become larger and more of a crescent as it moves to Greatest Elongation in January.





venus3psx2b with x2 barlow







venus0005psx5bwith  x 5 Barlow







venusandmarsMars and Venus with no magnification, taken under same conditions.

Mars is so far away now, even high magnification only shows a red disc, with no features, a UV filter would be needed to draw out any features in the atmosphere of Venus. (Did you hear that Santa?)





Have a Good Christmas and New Year!

Pete Hill




Another “Peri” Moon and Venus

shepandperi17:05 Moon rise over azimuth of approx 60 deg.

Another moon at “Perigee”


All images taken with Canon 450D with Sigma 150 -500 mm Zoom lens, mounted on tripod with remote shutter release and mirror lock up.


Click on images for full size.


150mm,4″ F6.3 ISO1600



150mm,2.5″, F22, ISO1600






150mm, 4″, F22, ISO1600







500mm, 1/50″, F29, ISO1600










500mm, 1/125″, F29, ISO1600







Venus was very prominent in the \Southern sky before sunset and as the2Peri” moon rose was framed in the branches of the tree behind me.


150mm, 5″, F22, ISO 1600.


Took these shots between 17:00 and 18:00 as the moon was rising over Burton on Trent, amazing how much dew had formed on the camera and lens body in that time, luckily none on lens!

The bright moon does not bode well for Geminid spotting and by dawn cloud will be covering the sky, which is unfortunate as the radar echoes being picked up increased dramatically over the 13th Dec and the log file for the 14th was also heading the same way, will post the activity profile at end of week.

Pete Hill