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

Posted by on in The Sky

Continuing our theme of interesting things in the sky it would seem that these crisp autumn days are just perfect for observing shimmers of colour on the clouds in the sky. It is also nice to be able to share these with friends and family who have never seen them before.

While taking a well-earned tea break this weekend my parents and I spotted a rather nice pair of sundogs. We admired them for a few moments when I suggested that the cloud conditions looked to be just right for a circumzenithal arc. We all turned our gaze upwards and right on cue… a faint curve like an upside- down rainbow grinned down at us. As CZAs are formed from the same ice crystals that sundogs are made from it is always worth taking a glance upwards to see if there is one smiling down.

The following day we saw a rather nice iridescent cloud, which we managed to photograph for the first time. In addition to the cloud being fairly thin, the water droplets in the cloud have to be the same size in order for the diffraction effect to be seen. We have observed iridescence several times from WV, although it is apparently uncommon.   It is amazing what you see if you just take the time to look up once in a while.

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Posted by on in The Sky






It seems to be our week for spotting interesting things in the sky.  First the aurora, then the solar halo and now this weird structure.  It looks like something you would expect to see in  ‘Close Encounters’ or the ‘X files’.

This cloud formation is a rather impressive fallstreak hole (also known as hole punch cloud or cloud hole).  These are apparently fairly rare and can often be mistaken for UFOs.  The exact process of their formation is not fully understood but is believed to be caused when water droplets in the cloud start to freeze into ice crystals, sticking together and becoming heavier before finally dropping below the cloud as ‘fallstreak’.  This process is started when aircraft pass through the cloud, which causes the water to cool down enough to freeze.  The result is quite impressive.

Tagged in: Clouds The Sky Weather
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Posted by on in The Sky










Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better this week, Nettie managed to spot, what at first sight looked like a fairly regular solar halo. Although such things are surprisingly common (if you spend any amount of time sky watching), it soon turned out to be what is possibly a once in a lifetime experience.

What we ended up observing was a combination of optical phenomena, which for our location have a probability of being seen individually, ranging from about once a year to one hundred times a year.

Put them all together however and well, probability was never my strongpoint, but I think maybe tonight is a good night to get that lottery ticket.

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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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Photo shared by on in Astronomy

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

We have had some beautiful weather over the Easter period. Blue skies with fluffy white cumulus clouds during the day (with some high cirrostratus clouds producing sundogs at the end of one afternoon) and stunningly clear starry skies at night. 

After a hard day at Woodlands View, Wal and I were able to take a wander next door to the @stronomy Centre to have a look at the planet Mars through one ofthe 16” telescopes. Mars is at opposition at the moment, so it was great to have a closer look at this lovely red world. We couldn’t see any ice caps at the poles but we did see a darker area on the planet. Although the view was a bit wobbly due to heat haze from the surrounding hills, there were instances when the image steadied into perfect focus. Mars is well worth a look, even through a small telescope or binoculars. 

Mars is of great interest to our friend John Keegan (a.k.a Katharode). He hangs out online at PlanetFOUR. PlanetFOUR is one of the many Zooniverse projects - "a citizen science project designed to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don’t exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before.”  By improving their understanding of these features, scientists can gauge the weather systems better which will be of great importance to humans when they come to land on the planet sometime in the future.

Kitharode has been involved in the project since it launched over a year ago, and is one of the moderators on the site. He is very interested in the ‘Spiders of Mars’ and other features such as 'fans', 'blobs' and 'yardangs'. He was telling us about the long dark tracks formed by dust devils on the surface of Mars.  Apparently these windy swirls can be hundreds of meters across and several miles high! Astonishing. Mars is a very interesting, dynamic place with plenty of opportunities to make new and exciting discoveries. Kitharode has given us many fascinating insights to this alien world with its high winds, enormous mountains and changeable icecaps. One day, when Woodlands View finally opens, he will be able to share his enthusiasm for the red planet with everyone.

Hours of Fun!

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Our first proper blog post I suppose.

We have added a map showing our location to the About Us Article  (located in the Main Menu) and also a rather nice animated orrery (Solar System model) to the Planets Article (located in The Sky menu).


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