Kaguya Lunar Atlas

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I first bought a copy of this book back in 2011 when it was published. Since then, and thanks largely to the accompanying text, it has been a constant companion in my lunar library. The book presents good quality HDTV images from the camera onboard the SELENE (more commonly known by its Japanese nickname Kaguya ) orbiter. Kaguya was launched in September 2007 and after a number of successful orbits it was deliberately crashed into the lunar surface in June 2009. It’s two 2.2 megapixel CCD HDTV cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto, along with a terrain and multi-band imager, sent back some fantastic high resolution images. The book uses the HDTV images along with descriptive text of the features to give you a good primer on the typical features you will see and explains their formation and origins. The book openly encourages you to interpret lunar features for yourself as you progress through the pages and you will find that this does quickly become possible.

The book is now out of print and secondhand copies are extremely expensive (£80 + on Amazon) . You can occasionally find some reasonably priced editions at the AddALL used and out of print books search here AddALL Books Search where I have seen copies going for £20 – £25. If you see one, snap it up, this is a fantastic book for the lunar enthusiast/planetary geologist.

Categories: Books, Lunar Tags: , , , ,

Noctilucent Clouds from Mull of Galloway Lighthouse.

We are on holiday staying at one of the light-keeper’s cottages at the Mull of Galloway lighthouse at the moment. The views here are extensive all around on the headland and the dark sky quality is very high, well minus the bright blue beam of the new LED light that has just been installed in the lighthouse it is! At midnight I took the dog out for a walk and was greeted with panoramic noctilucent clouds spanning the northern horizon – the best view I have ever had. They changed constantly with bands and swirls, ripples and waves. I stood out there on top of the prehistoric burial mound above the lighthouse compound for two hours in an increasingly chilly wind, but it was well worth it !

Its my birthday! And there are Noctilucent Clouds!

Had a great day out in the hills above Rhayader today and was about to head for bed when I thought I would look out of the window and just check if there are any noctilucent clouds as there has been reports in the UK on twitter from quite low latitudes. Much to my amazement there was a fabulous show going on at 11pm through to midnight. Lots of ripples and wave details in the upper levels !

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Dark Skies of the Tywi Valley, Carmarthenshire

October 1, 2016 Leave a comment

We stayed at a remote cottage in the Tywi Valley north west of Rhandirmwyn in Carmarthenshire for a week and I had a couple of opportunities to spend some time under the dark skies available here. To the naked eye there is no light pollution at all within the Tywi valley and the Milky Way is easily seen when your eyesight is dark adapted. The higher sensitivity of the camera sensor picks up some light glow from Rhandirmwyn village and a larger amount from the town of Llandovery, which lies some 10km distant. The area is well known for dark skies with a couple of sites recommended here Dark Sky Discovery Sites UK including the YHA hostels at Ty’n-y-cornel and Dolgoch located to the north of the Llyn Brianne reservoir.

Here are some photos taken from the cottage on clear, but occasionally cloudy, nights with the Fuji X100s at 28mm, F2, ISO 6400, 15 – 25 second exposures.

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Above: Looking south through thin cloud with some light pollution from Rhandirmwyn and Llandovery evident. Delphinus (upper right edge) with the head of Pegasus (centre) and parts of Aquarius.

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Above: Looking north east at the constellations Cassiopeia (top) and Perseus (centre) with the bright star Capella in Auriga near the bottom of the photo

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Above: Looking west towards the Allt Ty’n-y-ddol ridge with Ursa Major (the Plough) just above the dark ridge line. The Pole Star – Polaris (top right) and Ursa Minor and Draco to the left of Polaris.

 

 

Mercury Transit of the Sun 9-5-16

Well I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen this event as the cloud cover was horrendous for most of the day. These images were actually taken through the thinnest of that cloud between 15:30 – 16:50 and the quality of the images is pretty dire, but nonetheless a good record of how I saw things from the back garden. I was amazed at just how small the planet looks against the Sun, not much bigger than the sunspot group nearby.

The transit began at 12.12 BST, and ends at 19.42 BST so you have a few minutes left to see it in the UK ! Mercury is 4,800 km in diameter and orbits the Sun in 88 days. Transits of mercury are fairly rare events with 13 taking place every century in November or May.

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The Sun in CaK light showing sunspot group 2542 to the right of centre and Mercury to the left of centre

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The Sun in Hydrogen Alpha light showing curving filaments and Mercury top left of centre

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The Hydrogen Alpha disk showing Mercury upper left of centre

Categories: Planets, Solar Tags: , , , ,

Giant Sunspot Region AR 2529 17-4-16

April 22, 2016 Leave a comment

The Sun’s activity is now heading towards solar minimum, but it can still occasionally surprise us with some large surface features such as sunspot active region AR 2529 which appeared over the last weekend. To give you some idea of scale you could fit five Earth’s inside the dark area of that sunspot ! It is so large people have reported seeing it at sunset behind thin cloud with the naked eye.

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Images taken 17-4-16 12:10pm, PST CaK, DMK 400

Categories: Solar Tags: , , , ,

The Dark Skies of Anglesey, North Wales

March 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Spent a few days up on Anglesey near Penmon where they have stunning dark skies so I took the opportunity to do a little astrophotography from the back garden of the cottage, which overlooked the sea to the north. Orion was prominent in the western sky while to the south Jupiter was rising above the roof and through the trees. Many star clusters were visible with the naked eye including the Double Cluster, three clusters in the southern half of Auriga and M44 (The Beehive) near Gemini. The Andromeda Galaxy was easy to find in the north.

The Isle of Anglesey AONB is currently working towards gaining Dark Sky Reserve Status and you can follow their progress here The view was quite spectacular on a moonless night with stars from horizon to horizon. Light pollution was minimal for naked eye viewing, particularly to the north and west. The main problem for photographers will be the large number of passenger jets heading east – west in the north and it was difficult to take a photo which did not have a plane trail in it.

All images taken with the Sony RX100, F1.8, 28mm, ISO 3200, 8 second exposures.

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Orion in the west

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Jupiter rising through the lower branches of the tree

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Jupiter gleaming over Penmaenmawr and the Snowdonia Mountains

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Looking west to Benllech and Amlwch with the constellations Cassiopeia, Perseus  and Andromeda. The faint smudge just right of centre is the Andromeda Galaxy.

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Looking north west to Cassiopeia and Andromeda with the Milky Way faintly glowing

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The Plough looking north east