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Home Forums Observing and Imaging Group Jupiter and Moon conjunction and my week of stargazing

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Tej 1 year ago.

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    Well, I have had an unexpected packed week of practical astronomy thanks to several clear night skies.  My enjoyment came mostly from eyepiece visual and entertaining friends on views with my telescope.

    I started off with a spontaneous M13 observation and imaging night from my Living room a week ago which I described on the other thread and was surprised with how much detail and colour we can achieve with imaging using less than ideal equipment and heavy light pollution.


    Then I went to Leeds for 4 days for an annual social and leisure meet and city exploration with members of a UK movie site forum.   Given the clear sky forecast, I thought to bring my telescope along to add some astronomy spice in entertaining my fellow movie society members with views of various celestial objects in the night sky.   It wasnt worth me staying outside Leeds to avoid light pollution as the moon was near full moon.  So I stayed in a b&b in the city and found a nice open common called Monument Moor which was easy for everyone else to access and find me in.  And of course I invited my landlord as I always do with every bnb I stay at!  My landlord had 2020 vision and proved to be helpful in focussing my telescope better than I can.   The light pollution of Leeds is far less bad than in London as I could definitely see more stars in the sky and that was even despite the fact that the moon was almost a full one adding to the light pollution.


    My guests were a reactively entertaining bunch themselves.  While I had the telescope on the Beehive cluster, one of them she said “wow, this is amazing, I love how they have holes in them but why?”, at that, I told her to use the focuser and then she says “wow, brilliant, I can see the holes much clearer now, and their bigger too!”.   When she eventually saw the pinpoint stars, I detected a slight disappointment in her reaction!  But turns out she wasn’t wearing her contacts so everytime she came to the scope, the focuser was adjusted drastically, which meant everyone else coming to the telescope immediately after, would see unfocused targets…and bizarrely getting a kick out of it.  To describe how to reach focussing to pinpoint stars, I had to tune in with these movie fan’s imaginative interpretation of the universe.  So I tells them to focus the scope by eating the doughnuts and leave one single tiny crumb.  This seemed to work and went down well with them while some of them reached for their munchies with a sudden pang of hunger.   For almost everything I showed them, they had a wilder entertaining description than my rather conservative explanations.  For example, as I described the asterism of The Plough, which is part of the constellation, Ursa Major also known as the great bear, one of my guests, said, “no its the Shopping Trolley”.  So I went with it, as I tried to explain that the shopping trolley forms part of the constellation Ursa Major.  They were not happy with that, so they told me, “NO, its part of the ASDA Supermarket constellation” as ASDA shopping trolleys have similar long bendy handles!  The whole system is now referred to as the great bear with shopping trolley in Asda Supermarket constellation.  At that point, I almost wished I could see the universe, the way they saw it!


    So I got to show them craters on the moon, which when out of focus, really did look like cheese to some of them, particularly the Wallace and Gromit fans.  The M13 Hercules Cluster…a faint fuzzy object which I had to force them to appreciate its significance as an early ancient relic of the universe and not a smudge on the eyepiece that I had to try stop them cleaning.  I showed them the doughnut rich Beehive and Double clusters and then the highlight of the night, Jupiter and its moons.


    In fact Jupiter totally wowed me too.  As on that day, Jupiter was almost closest to opposition and so I could see not just the usual two prominent gas bands but also the swirls in them and the other bands towards  north and south poles.  I have never ever seen Jupiter in such detail through my telescope before so I am guessing I must have never seen Jupiter at opposition.  Really stunning.  Unfortunately no great red spot was in view at the time, so I hope I can get an opportunity sometime this week for a clear sky to view it.  I did two nights of this in Leeds and both times, my landlords (I actually stayed at two different b&bs during my stay) came to join me, bringing their friends the second time around…spreading the word of “Tej’s mobile observatory” is in town, lol.

    I am sorry, I have no pictures as visual astronomy was the main thing which I love more anyway.

    On my return from Leeds, I realised that Monday night was a very close conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter and had thoughts of going to Blackheath and inviting individual members to join me but the cloud forecast looked iffy so I decided not to.  However, come dark, the clouds were not so bad, and the moon and Jupiter peered through several gaps in the clouds viewed from my living room window.  So once again as I had done a week ago on the M13, I plonked my Nexstar alt az mount with my Equinox 80mm APO refractor on the table on my rickety floor boards and pointed at the conjunstion, then slotted in my TV 40mm Plossl…wow!  Jupiter, its moons, and our own moon, all in the eyepiece! Despite the low power  of both my scope and eyepiece, I can see Jupiter gas bands with the galilean moons queuing up rather staggeredly this time but still shining like little ducklings.  And luckily, the moon looked just right as a long wispy earth cloud bank served as a much needed light filter to give a perfectly combined exposure of moon craters  to match Jupiter that lies out of the wispy Earth cloud bank to just about flaunt its own two main gas bands.  Perfect.


    It was time however, to make myself a souvenir from this, so I attached my dslr and captured many frames shots of the conjunction.  I selected this particular frame where jupiter and our moon are each given a cloud escort 🙂



    Moon, Jupiter and Galilean moons conjunction with their cloud escorts


    Then yesterday, a Flamsteed member invited some Flamsteed friends including myself to join her on a trip to Stonehenge on a full moon photographic adventure.  Knowing that Stonehenge is closed to the public after 6pm, we scouted spots in which we can still view Stonehenge and finally setted on a great spot…and rather just in time, witnessed a most beautifully coloured moonrise behind Stonhenge.  Unforrtunately for me, we miscalculated how long it takes us to scout and I had the intention to do a timelapse but there was no time for me to set my equipment up with my laptop etc, so I just simply enjoyed the moonrise visually over the stone henge.   My companions however, photographed the moonrise…so expect a post, pictures and story from one of them, soon!!   A friendly “keep Stonehenge safe” campaigner walked up to us for a chat and to record an interview with a couple of us on our reason for being there that night.  I think he wants to use it for some web TV show or something, probably to support his campaign.  But he mentioned that there were other folks at the Stonehenge with telescopes too.  With the night being a full moon, its hard to tell if this area is good for astronomy but I suspect it might be.  I sure love to come back here on a moonless or crescent moon night to find out!

    We were becoming icicles around 11:30pm at which we decided to go back to the car and thaw out on our journey back to London.


    That capped off a great unexpected astronomy packed week for me 🙂



    • This topic was modified 1 year ago by  Tej.

    Andy Sawers
    Topics: 121
    Replies: 595

    Focus the telescope by eating the doughnuts

    Tej, you should write an astronomy travelogue book with that as the title!


    Topics: 38
    Replies: 593

    Tej wrote:
    Focus the telescope by eating the doughnuts

    Tej, you should write an astronomy travelogue book with that as the title!


    Unfortunately, that was the book I read, hence my expansion around the waist!




    I sieved through my Stonehenge photos and realised the very first frame I was able to capture was the only one worth keeping as a souvenir of my trip as I was so slow in setting up, I missed the moonrise

    Many thanks again to one of our Flamsteed members for inviting a couple of us and driving to Stonehenge.  It was a fabulous spontaneous trip of mystic stones, exploration and educational photographic experiments.


    Damn.  I missed the Full Moonrise over Stonehenge

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