Since I have been taking so much medication of these past few months, my mind and energy levels have changed drastically. I am not able to walk any great distance and my concentration levels were a little off for a while. So I thought of changing my past time from photography to astronomy. I started a local astronomy group and members were soon adding up. As it is so dark here in our part of the Golden Valley in Herefordshire, I thought it would be a shame to not take full advantage of the inky black night skies.
A group was set up and there were around 40 members in total with a vide age range from as you as 7 to as old as 81. With the weather being the way it is in the UK it soon become very apparent that astronomy group events are very difficult to book in advance. On the first few meets the cloud rolled in and out but we were able to view quit a lot of night sky objects. As time went on the younger members of the group soon got bored as we only had the one scope and a few pairs of binoculars, so the group numbers soon started to drop and along with every last Saterday of the month seeming to have 100% cloud cover soon there was just myself.
As the months went on I was still 100% in trying to learn as much as I possibly could about what was in the night sky, and when I look back to how much I have learnt in a few short months I suppose I have learnt quite a lot.
I very soon realised that I could combine the two pasties, astronomy and photography, but with the 8″ Dobsonian scope that I had that would like to thank Tring Astronomy for helping us out with ( www.tringastro.co.uk/ ) I realised that although it really is an amazing scope I would be unable to take long exposures as the scope does not track the stars. I tried moving the scope between each exposure, but the results were awful and have never been published anywhere on the Internet as they really were so poor.
I was lucky enough to find an absolute bargain after a few weeks of looking for a tracking scope. A family friends husband had died a short while ago and his son was sorting out the house and while visiting him he mentioned that he had a telescope from his fathers house that he was going to sell on gumtree. I asked how much he was looking to sell it for and I bought it from him. It was an EQ5 mount with GOTO and an 8″ Newtonian Reflector. The mounth and the GOTO would now enable me to photograph deep sky objects as the motors track the stars at the same speed and angle that the Earth moves.
I tried for many months trying to align the scope on a single star ( Polaris ) and just seemed to getting more and more frustrating but my determination finally won. As usual I was overlooking the simple task of ‘Polar alignment’ and looking too much into the method. After finally figuring it out I was able to Polar align the scope within minutes every night I wanted to use it. Then one night I was brining the scope back in to the house and a toad jumped out and almost under my foot as I was walking, to avoid stepping on it I stumbled and dropped the scope and took a great big chip out from the mirror making it totally useless.
I then borrowed another scope from a friend while he was working nights, but he has now swapped shifts, so I am left with no scope at all 😦
I was so pleased to have finally found a hobby that I could really enjoy with very minimum pain as all I had to do was to get my son to attach the scope, then I could just press a button on the GOTO and then the motors would take the scope directly to whatever it was I wanted to view in the night sky. All I had to do was just sit there in my sleeping bag with a flask of hot coffee and press buttons.
I will be getting another scope after the new year though, I hope any way.
Here are a few pics of what I have been busy with since my last post. Now there are not many that I am going to share and what I will share are not the greatest, but I hope to improve on this after the new year when I get my new scope.
Here is my processed image of M31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
This image was made up of around 30 thirty second exposures and then all stacked on top of each other with a piece of software.
Here is what M31 looks like through the telescope:-
What I find incredible is that the image above is actually looking back in time, back in history. The image that I saw through my telescope on the night I took this image is how M31 looked 2.5 million years ago. It is 2.5 million light years away from Earth and the light from M31 is travelling to us here on Earth at the speed of light which is around 299 792 458 miles per second. So we are in fact looking back 2.5 million light years ago.
Anyway, here are some more pics I am willing to share 😉
The image above is one I had forgotten about and still needs processing. If I remember correctly this is Bodes Galaxy. If the processing works out OK I will be sure to post an image of that here too.
This is an image I waited for a very long time to take. This is Orion Nebula (NGC 1976). It was so low in the sky that I had to wait up until gone midnight before it appeared over our horizon. You can see this nebula easily with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. This again is not the best image, I would have loved to have had more time to have worked on it.
Well that is about it!
I have however have a new camera, a Canon 450D. A brilliant little camera. and I have been trying out some wide angle astrophotography. Here are a few shots I tried last night.
Click on each image to see a larger image