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Astronomy

Blog posts of an astronomical nature.

Posted by on in Astronomy


As a follow up to the photographs we published in the previous post, here is a timelapse video showing how the aurora developed and then faded away.

Altogether it was visible to us for approximately 1.5 hours.

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As usual, following periods of increased solar activity, we are always on the lookout for potential sightings of aurora. We use two websites to help us with this:-

AuroraWatch UK

&

NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre

The predictions for a visible aurora were quite good for this evening and the weather was  favourable, so we thought we'd take a wander up to Woodlands View to see what we could see. We've done this many times before with no success, but tonight was to be the night.

We thought we could see a faint green glow to the North, behind the wind turbines and electricity pylons, very low down on the horizon. After setting up our cameras, some initial test shots looked promising.

Between 8.30 and 10.00 p.m. we stood and watched as the the display slowly built in intensity; seeing the gradual appearance of blue and red into the range of colours and also spotting what at first looked like faint searchlight beams either side of the main glow.

We were lucky enough to be joined by Garry Mayes from Planet Earth Education and his son, who had also thought it might be worth making the trip up onto the moor and it also happens to be the 20th anniversary of Nettie's first visit up here for work experience.

We managed to obtain a good selection of photographs but Nettie managed to top the lot by capturing an 'Flaring' satellite against the background of the aurora.

Hopefully this is the first of many sightings that we will have at Woodlands View.

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Posted by on in Astronomy

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Just a quick post to show two images from the total lunar eclipse in the early hours of Monday morning, as photographed from Woodlands View.

The first shows the 'blood red' moon and was taken at approximately 03.27 when the moon was completely in Earth's shadow (the Umbra - the darker central part). The second photo was take a little earlier on and shows stars that were not visible due to the glare from the full moon before the eclipse began.

Regarding the first photo, we were interested to know why there still appears to be a small lighter coloured 'crescent' to the bottom left. At this point of the eclipse, the moon was meant to be completely in Earth's shadow, so according to all the diagrams showing the stages of the eclipse should be all the same colour. The same crescent is visible in all photos that I have seen that were taken during the 'maximum' stage of the eclipse.

The closest explanation that we can find is that the moon was in fact right on the boundary between the inner (umbra) and outer (penumbra) shadows of the Earth. Close enough so that refraction of sunlight through different parts of the Earth's atmosphere caused the slight change in colour.

Whatever the reason, we had a thouroughly enjoyable evening watching the eclipse, despite the advancing mist and are looking forward to the next one in 2019 on the 20/21st January.

For more Moon information, don't forget to check out our Moon page which can be found here:-

http://www.woodlandsvieweducation.co.uk/index.php/the-moon

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Wal and I photographed this lovely Lunar halo the other night. The Moon was one day from being full and lit the sky and the clouds beautifully. This 220 halo is formed by moonlight being refracted by ice crystals in the clouds.  We often see full or partial halos around the Sun (or sundogs, arcs and other optical phenomena) but this is the first Lunar halo that we have managed to photograph.  It persisted for a few short minutes before gradually fading away.

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We have been lucky to have had two relatively clear nights for this year’s Perseid meteor shower. The absence of the moon has also made a good deal of difference to the 'seeing' conditions.

The night of August 11 provided us with several very bright meteor trails; however, they mostly appeared from the Southern part of the sky, away from Perseus. It is most likely that these were ‘sporadic’ meteors, meaning that they are not associated with any particular meteor shower and do not have a well-defined ‘radiant’ – point of origin in the sky. The sky was relatively clear but recent rain made for a lot of moisture in the air and camera lenses rapidly fogged over.

The night of the 12th appeared to be less clear, with some very high wispy cloud, but there was a definite increase in the hourly meteor rate as we moved into Thursday morning. Higher daytime temperatures meant that camera lenses stayed fog free at night, and we were much more successful with our photography.

We have include a small gallery of images with this post, in which there are two images that show what at first may appear to be meteors but are actually satellites that appear to ‘flare’ when they catch the sun’s rays at the right angle.

Some satellite flares can be predicted, such as the ‘Iridium’ flares that are caused by the shape of the body panels of a particular type of communications satellite, and can be very bright. Other, dimmer flares can be caused the solar panels of the same type of satellite and generally last longer than the brighter ones. The predictions can only be made because the satellites are controlled and their orientation in space is known.

It is also possible to see flares from satellites that cannot be predicted because they are out of control (tumblers), or from debris left after rocket launches.

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