Tag: Milky Way
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 🙂
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. 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. 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. 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. 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 🙂 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. Do get in touch if you want to learn more about the universe and how to photograph the night sky 🙂
Here’s the Milky Way from the Holy Island causeway last September.
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…). When Duncan arrived we set up a couple of telescopes in the hall, ready to be deployed outside if the cloud cleared. 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. Duncan was keeping an eye on the weather and just as I finished the first section of my presentation the cloud cleared 🙂 Everyone donned hats, coats and gloves and we moved the ‘scopes outside, as well as arming everyone with binoculars. 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. Delicious hot soup and bread rolls finished the evening off nicely and there were lots of questions about how to learn more about stargazing. 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 🙂
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 – 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 😉 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 🙂
It can quickly turn bone-chillingly cold once it gets dark 😉