It’s been a while since my last post, while a lot of people have found lots of time on their hands with this Corona virus pandemic and lockdown, I on the other hand have not stopped at all, work has gone mad and as a concrete mixer driver, working long days is not conducive to long nights in the observatory, While I’m not complaining, some people may not have a job to go back to – it does mean I’ve missed lots of opportunities for imaging and as a rule the weekends when I’ve not worked have been rubbish anyway.
As an example, when the lockdown restrictions were eased, my partner and I, like many others decided to go out in our camper for the weekend, just to get away from the same four walls, the weather forecast was for cloud and possible light rain ( so I didn’t take my portable imaging kit ) but that didn’t matter, we’re pretty much self contained in the camper, also we didn’t go far, just to Dunkery beacon near Minehead, Somerset – a wild, beautiful and secluded area, and the highest point in Exmoor. It became obvious as we pulled into a wide layby that the weather forecast was going to be utterly wrong, the clouds were going and a deep blue blanket of evening sky was replacing them, and my portable imaging kit was 30 miles away.
So we sat and enjoyed watching the stars come out one by one, I keep a pair of 10×50 binoculars in the van so all was not lost, binoculars are great especially from a dark sky reserve, Jupiter and Saturn shone brightly in the south east and the Milkyway reached from horizon to horizon, at home you can only see the Milkyway overhead due to light pollution, eventually we retired to bed as it became a bit chilly.
At around 2am, I woke up and looked out of the window, I quickly got dressed as I could see comet Neowise and Noctilucent clouds, neither of which can be seen from home due to nearby houses and light pollution, all I had to try and capture this scene was my mobile phone so my appologies for the quality of the following picture.
You can just make out the comet as a light patch at top centre of the image.
Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the Earths atmosphere, located in the Mesosphere at altitudes of around 250,000 to 280,000 ft – They are too dim to be seen during the day and are only visible when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earths shadow, they are visible only during summer months when conditions are right.
I have also been tinkering, I have made a new housing for my all sky camera as the one I had did not weather well and the plastic became brittle as it was not UV stable, the new housing is made from a waterproof outdoors electrical junction box and a circular dew heater from dewcontrol.com, total cost was less than £25. This camera will be put out when needed and not left to the elements, the camera and lens remain the same.
As the nights are now drawing in again – hopefully I’ll be able to get some more enjoyble work done.