On the 8th June this year a crack squad of bedraggled unfit overweight lunatics will be jumping on their bicycles for a gruelling 28 mile ride from Derwent to the Cygnus Observatory in Washington. Their mission, firstly is to survive so they can tell the disbelieving masses what a throbbing backside is really like. After that as they dismount at the Wetlands Centre grimacing like world gurning champions and walking like a group of lycra-clad John Wayne tribute acts, no-one will be in any doubt that they have suffered for the cause. And what a cause, the Cygnus Public Observatory. SAS carries out essential work in the community introducing the wonders of the night sky to groups of kids for nothing more than the sheer love of it. If you like the sound of the above, please feel free to join us for a day of grunting, sweating, teeth gritting and a packed lunch. If you don’t fancy it then sponsor these crazy fools. Sponsoring the team is easy and you can do it from your mobile phone. All you need to do is send a text message to 70070 with the society’s code which is SAST14 and the amount you’d like to donate. So if you want to donate £5 for example then just text SAST14 £5 to 70070, simple as that. We’ll post some updates on the day of the ride en route so you can track our progress. Wish us luck, pray for us, laugh at us , but please sponsor us! Thank you.
To make this more of a challenge for the seasoned riders Mark and I will be riding from WWT to the start. Our estimated distance should be approx 70 miles. If anyone wants to join in let me know.
Well, finally the cloud shifted and I was able to get the scope out. This time though, I fancied a try at some visual work, as the Moon and Jupiter were well positioned, also my dad wanted to have a look. So packed up all the kit into the back of the car (Grandad Picasso C4) and the boot was full, so I don’t think it will be going on holiday’s with us and made the short journey to my dad’s abode. Setup didn’t take long and we were straight on it once we got the mount polar aligned and synced with Cartes Du Ciel.
First up was the moon. Arrgghhh, bright, blinded. OK lesson learned you really do need a filter to reduce the amount of light. Polarizing will do the job nicely. Next up was Jupiter. I was quite amazed that in the finder scope I could see four of Jupiter’s moons as well as Jupiter, which appeared to be a bright large star. Of course, things are never so easy, the finder scope was not aligned with the main scope, so some adjustment had to be made here which was pretty painful as it was hard to run to PC to make adjustments and then back again to see the effect. With the annoyance of this I plucked out my Saitek Cyborg controller, and after a quick automatic calibration I was controlling the mount while looking through eyepiece. Brilliant!
Finally got Jupiter aligned and it was a good experience. I change the eyepiece to my 6mm which gives a mere magnification of only 150x. You could make out two red bands on the gas giant which was a good feeling. It’s pretty amazing seeing pictures of the planets, but seeing them with your own eyes if you know is so much better if you know what I mean, even if you can’t quite see so much.
After a bit of viewing it was time to fit the 40D to the scope to do a little video recording of both targets. First up the Moon again, then Jupiter. I used Backyard EOS for the recording as it has the ability to record using the Liveview function on the Canon 40D. Both recording’s were taken using the 5x zoom function so you could see something. I’ve posted these images in my Astrophotography gallery, which doesn’t have too many photos in at the moment due to persistent cloud all year. The focus could be improved, but hey, not bad for a first attempt!
I went to Bamburgh Castle with my friend Mark to get some good photos of the stars. The conditions were great, no moon, no city light pollution and -3 degrees C. While I was there I decided to create a short (very) time lapse of the castle, sea and stars. I let my 40D do all the work while we sat in the car trying to stay warm.
Although I had my computer for remote shooting it was far easy to just use my cable release. To do this in three easy steps:
1. Simply put the camera into continuous shooting mode as well as setting it up for the right exposure.
2. Take a shot and lock the button on the cable release so the button remains down.
3. Once that shot is taken, because the cable release button is still pressed (as the button is locked down) and the camera is in continuous shooting, then another shot is taken, and so on until you stop it.
Below is my result after about 25 minutes of exposures. Hopefully I can get back there when I have more time to be able to make a video that lasts a little longer than 2 seconds
Had a pop to South Shields to photo Groyne Lighthouse. Did you know that it was built in 1882? It was the original lighthouse before the North and South Piers were built at the mouth of the Tyne. Today it still acts as a navigational aid in it’s original location on Herd Groyne Pier, as you can see from the photo. It was a little misty which I think gives a bit of atmosphere to the pic.
You can see more Coastal photography in my Coastal Gallery.