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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Night Sky

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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Posted by on in Astronomy

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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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Photo shared by on in Astronomy

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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It has been a bit chilly ‘round these parts just recently so you have to be pretty hardy - or enthusiastic - to go out observing when there is snow lying on the ground.  Perhaps it was the cold air that sent shivers down my spine but it was defiantly rather spooky out at night with a waxing moon rising and a fox yelping out on the moors somewhere.  Then, looking back at my photographs of Orion I see a ghostly human form! She moves position between two frames and then vanishes, never to be seen again.  There was no one else on the plateau with me, and I would certainly have noticed someone standing in shot- especially as there are streetlights illuminating the scene.  There are also weird jellyfish or sprites in several shots that could not been seen with the naked eye.  Is Woodlands View haunted?

Err, no.

The jellyfish are caused by lens flare (they appear and disappear depending on whether the streetlights are in shot) and the ghost is me. I love photobombing long exposure shots!

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Posted by on in Astronomy

If you feel you can brave the cold, a sight currently well worth looking out for, is that of Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). If you have access to a reasonably dark site and have clear skies, you may be able to make out this comet with the naked eye. However if you are in possession of a pair of binoculars, you will get a much better view.

The comet was discovered on 17th August 2014 by Terry Lovejoy (not a fictional antiques dealer from East Anglia). It has recently passed from the constellation Taurus into that of Aries and will possibly remain quite bright for some time. It has been in the news for a while, although the weather has generally not been favourable for viewing.

We’ve included two screen grabs from the free planetarium software, Stellarium, which show the position of the comet as it was on the 15th of this month and as it will be today. The photograph was taken on the 15th at the time shown in the first screen grab. You can just make out a hint of the tail, but the quality of the photograph could have been better if I wasn’t battling with 40 – 50 mph gusts of wind.

The green glow is from the comet’s coma – a fuzzy haze of gas and dust released from the comets nucleus as it is heated by the sun. The green colour is most likely to be from carbon compounds but you may struggle to make out any colour as our eyes are generally not sensitive enough.

 

 

 

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