Tag: Andromeda galaxy

Hide and Seek; Otters and Stargazing mini-Safari 18/11/17

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Druridge Bay, Otter

I arrived at Church Point to collect Sarah and Nessa, Alison and Mike, and Pat ahead of an afternoon searching for Otters around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland with a planned extension to take in the first hour or so of darkness if the sky was clear…

Little Egrets stood out shining white against the darker water, Grey Herons were motionless as they concentrated on the water beneath their feet and the loud flapping of a Cormorant drying it’s wings carried over the water as a busy, noisy, tribe of Long-tailed Tits hurriedly crossed the gap between bushes.ย  Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Little Grebe and Slavonian Grebe all seemed calm and relaxed, but one drake Mallard lifted his head and stared intently at a reedbed, scanning side to side along one area of reeds….and out came an Otter with two cubs ๐Ÿ™‚ย  We watched them for a few minutes as they got out of the water, perched on top of rocks and then they vanished for a while before reappearing right next to a Mute Swan that fixed them with the look of contempt that swans are so good at.ย  Starlings were gathering prior to roost and a Sparrowhawk caused a ripple of panic that tightened the swirling murmuration into a small dark amorphous shape-shifting patch against the dying embers of daylight in the west.ย  By the time the Otters finally vanished there were already three Barn Owls quartering over the reeds and rough grassland nearby and bright yellowy-white Capella was visible against the darkening twilight sky.ย  With hardly a cloud in any direction, and with the temperature dropping rapidly we had excellent views of Auriga, Cassiopeia, Cygnus,ย the Pleiades, an impressive satellite flare and then the Andromeda galaxy through the ‘scope ๐Ÿ™‚

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Milky goodness; Dark Sky Safari 26/02/17

by on Feb.28, 2017, under Dark Skies

Nazarra had originally booked her Dark Sky Safari for Saturday, but the weather forecast prompted a late rearrangement…and that was looking like a great idea when the weather on Saturday evening proved to be far worse than forecast ๐Ÿ™‚

As I drove to Newbiggin on Sunday evening the rain was hammering against the windscreen but away to the west I could see the weather starting to clear and, by the time I collected Nazarra, Venus was shining bright against a dark blue background.ย  Patchy cloud revealed most of the sky at various points during the evening, and the only real weather we had to contend with was a bone-chilling breeze.ย  After a good look at the Orion Nebula (M42), Pleiades (M45), Andromeda galaxy (M31), Orion, Taurus, Gemini, the Plough, Cassiopeia, Auriga and Sirius, Nazarra mentioned that she hadn’t photographed the night sky but was keen to learn how to do that.ย  Choosing camera settings that would be appropriate for a widefield starscape, Nazarra pressed the shutter release as I held the tripod stable against the breeze.ย  That first shot looked rather orange but I couldn’t see any low cloud that would reflect light pollution…a quick change of the white balance setting did away with the orange glow and the next image had a trace of the Milky Way visible ๐Ÿ™‚ย  With the cloud clearing further, the Milky Way came into naked eye visibility and several sections of the sky were imaged before it was time to return to Newbiggin.

I’ll be leading some landscape astrophotography workshops at the fantastic Battlesteads Observatory from March onwards, and I’m the lead astronomer there most Wednesday evenings and a couple of Saturdays every month too.ย  Do get in touch if you want to learn more about the universe and how to photograph the night sky ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the Milky Way from the Holy Island causeway last September.

Milky Way,Holy Island,Northumberland,astrophotography,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,www.newtltd.co.uk,www.newtltd.co.uk/dark-skies

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Crystal clear; Cheviot Valleys Stargazing 11/12/2015

by on Dec.18, 2015, under Cheviot Valleys

Last Friday was an event that I’d been eagerly anticipating; leading a stargazing event at Kirknewton for the Northumberland National Park Authority.

Rain and sleet on the journey north wasn’t particularly promising, so I arrived at the village hall and set everything out for a slide show (just in case the weather didn’t cooperate…).ย  When Duncan arrived we set up a couple of telescopes in the hall, ready to be deployed outside if the cloud cleared.ย  Start time arrived and it had clouded over completely so, following Duncan’s introduction to light pollution and the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, I gave a presentation on practical stargazing for beginners.ย  Duncan was keeping an eye on the weather and just as I finished the first section of my presentation the cloud cleared ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Everyone donned hats, coats and gloves and we moved the ‘scopes outside, as well as arming everyone with binoculars.ย  The dazzling beauty of the Milky Way, Orion, the Pleiades, Gemini, Auriga, Taurus and the Andromeda Galaxy had everyone gripped by what can be seen when there’s little light pollution, and shooting stars were seen every couple of minutes.ย  Delicious hot soup and bread rolls finished the evening off nicely and there were lots of questions about how to learn more about stargazing.ย  We’ll hopefully be leading more events for the National Park during the winter; sign up and bring your enthusiasm and hat, gloves and plenty of warm clothing ๐Ÿ™‚

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Heavenly; Discover Stargazing 21/10/2014

by on Oct.23, 2014, under Dark Skies, Druridge Bay

Tuesday was our first Druridge Bay Discover Stargazing session and six enthusiastic participants enjoyed views of the Milky Way, the Plough, Cassiopeia, Arcturus, Cygnus, plenty of satellites, and even naked-eye views of the Andromeda Galaxy –ย  2.5 million light years away, and heading towards us at more than 100 km/s, but light travels at 299792458 m/s so we don’t have to worry about it just yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Probably the most interesting observation was of a satellite crossing the sky from east to west, almost as bright as the ISS.

So, conclusions from our first Druridge Bay stargazing session;

Even close to the former industrial heartland of Northumberland, and close to the county’s population centre, you can still have a great dark sky experience ๐Ÿ™‚

It can quickly turn bone-chillingly cold once it gets dark ๐Ÿ˜‰

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