Deep space

Over a week ago now I had an intense astronomy evening with my tame scientist. There weren’t many hours between sunset and moonrise so we worked fast to try and prove that we had a reliable autoguiding setup, having been plagued by various failures and obstacles the last few times we’d tried (see below) We […]

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First autoguided exposure

I’ve been amassing the components of my astrophotography rig over time. Before Christmas I got hold of a guide scope and I attempted to rig up a modified webcam as a guide camera. This wasn’t too successful so recently I bought a dedicated but inexpensive guide camera. After a brief experiment in my back garden […]

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New supernova in M82

Last week a new type 1a supernova (SN2014J) was spotted in Messier 82 – better known as the Cigar Galaxy. I was desperate to photograph it but the weather was not on my side. Finally last night I stole about half an hour of observing time between clouds and managed to get 9 pictures of the […]

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Moon

I haven’t managed to do any astronomy for a while because the weather has been so bad. However, last night there was a brief break in the clouds and the moon shone through. It was just enough time to set up my telescope in the front garden and attach a DSLR. You might think the […]

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Light pollution

Being an city-dwelling astronomer, light pollution is a huge problem for me. Sure, I love the urban convenience of Tesco Extra for emergency overnight bacon but the orange glow of sodium street lights really ruins a night of stargazing. I always drive to my dark site in rural Somerset for “proper” stargazing nights and there it […]

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Horsehead nebula

While the weather in Scotland and the North has been terrible today, that wasn’t the case in Somerset last night. It was still, clear and moonless, so I decided to head out for some astronomy. On my previous excursion I looked at as many bright and interesting objects as possible, but the photos didn’t do […]

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Finally – round stars!

This was my telescope’s first outing since I fixed up its mirror cell. A quick glance at a bright star in the city seemed to indicate that the problem was fixed, but there’s no way of knowing for sure without trying some proper photography. Recently the three circles in this Venn diagram have been conspiring […]

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Pinched optics – the cure

If you’ve been following my geeky astronomical posts lately, you’ll see that my new telescope suffers from triangular stars, caused by pinched optics. I’ve also been posting about the problem on Astronomy Forum. Just to recap, the telescope currently produces pictures like this. The effect is subtle, but if you click on the picture to […]

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