v.206 uploaded:  18th February  2020
Sharnbrook Observatory

Welcome to my web site!

This version includes the amazing dimming of Betelgeuse and an updated solar activity graph using my own observational data.
All of the images on this site are my own, taken using amateur telescopes and equipment.

As ever, I hope this encourages you to get out there and enjoy the treasures of our universe at first hand.

Best Wishes,  

Peter Garbett



Galleries...


African Skies     Mars                Venus            Equipment          Comets          Sun



The Aurora          Deep Sky       Moon          Jupiter             Saturn            NLC




The amazing dimming of Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star located upper left in the main outline of the constellation of Orion. As it nears the end of its life,
it is unstable and is expected to explode as a supernova some time in the next 100,000 years. Typically similar in brightness to Rigel
(lower right in the main constellation pattern), it sometimes fades. The fading during the winter of 2019-20 is, however, the most
dramatic ever recorded. I estimated it to be magnitude 1.7 on the night of 11th February, 2020, about a third of its usual brightness.
The images below unfortunately fail to show this as clearly as one sees with the naked-eye due to characteristics of the camera used.

Is this a sign that it will soon explode as a supernova? Well, if it did, I calculated it would be around magnitude -11.5, which equates to
roughly 1,000 times brighter than Venus, making it easily visible in broad daylight! Recent observations by professional astronomers
indicate that the dimming may be due to a huge cloud of carbon dust ejected by Betelgeuse, which is partially obscuring it from view.




4th February 2020 Orion with a gibbous Moon nearby in Taurus
Astro-modded Canon EOS450D, 50mm OM lens @F2.8, 800ASA, 6s unguided







11th February 2020 Orion
Astro-modded Canon EOS450D, 50mm OM lens @F2.8, 800ASA, 6s unguided







11th February 2020 Orion
Astro-modded Canon EOS450D, 50mm OM lens @F2.8, 800ASA, 4s unguided



Sirius through the willow tree


4th February 2020 Sirius with a gibbous Moon nearby in Taurus
Astro-modded Canon EOS450D, 50mm OM lens @F2.8, 800ASA, 6s unguided



Sunspot cycles 23 and 24 graphed from my observational data


Microsoft Excel Worksheet








Transit of Mercury 11th November 2019


A beautiful sight! Oh how tiny Mercury looks compared with the Sun.


 13:41 UTC                 13:46 UTC




  13:55 UTC                                   13:58 UTC




  13:59 UTC




Details: Orion 80 mm f = 600mm ED refractor on undriven tripod. Kendrick full aperture filter (visual). Baader Solar Continuum Filter and Baader UV/IR rejection filter. Flea 3 CCD.

Because of my period of recovery from recent emergency eye surgery (torn and detached retina), I could not lift my 20cm Meade into position. Still, I am quite
pleased with the images and enjoying seeing the transit.




The proper motion of 61 Cygni

Can the proper motion of 61 Cygni (aka "Piazzi's flying star")  be detected from comparing a crude photo taken in 1977 with a digital one from 2015 - both with a mere 50mm lens?

On p.43 of the November 2019 edition of Sky and Telescope magazine, Matt Wedel set a challenge for amateurs to detect the proper motion of 61 Cygni i.e. its physical motion through space. The constellation patterns very, very slowly change over time due to the proper motions of the stars within them, so the Plough won't look like the Plough any more if we were to time travel into the future.

I remembered that aged 15, whilst staying in the family touring caravan in Patrick Moore's garden in Selsey, I had taken a very crudely piggy-back tracked photo of Cygnus with a 50mm lens. The date and time was: 11 August 1977  22:13.5 UTC  - 22:23.5 UTC  i.e. a 10 minute exposure. The modern digital image was taken with a modded Canon EOS 450D on 16th August 2015 - oh how technology has advanced! Both images are shown below.


61 Cygni indicated by the small black square in this scanned 1977 photo.

I scanned the 1977 photo from my treasured old album; and after very careful measurements of the apparent separation of 61 Cygni from a pair of nearby
reference stars SAO 70818 (HD 200465) and SAO 70832 (HD 200577), I was able to measure an annual proper motion of 5.8" in the direction of position angle
65 degrees (roughly). Burnham's Celestial Handbook Vol. 2 quotes 5.22" per annum in the direction of position angle 52 degrees. So not too bad!
Amazing to be able to see a star on the move through space within a time span of just 38 years with nothing more than a standard camera lens!
As Matt Wedel puts it, "any discover is thrilling, even if many others have made the same discovery before."




Noctilucent clouds

21.06.19 22:05 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/6 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8








21.06.19 22:07 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/6 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8








21.06.19 22:07 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/4 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8







21.06.19 22:08 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/4 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8








21.06.19 22:09 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/4 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8








21.06.19 22:09 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/5 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8








\

21.06.19 22:20 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/4 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8








21.06.19 22:20 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/5 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8









21.06.19 22:22 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/5 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8









21.06.19 22:22 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/3 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8









21.06.19 22:25 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/4 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8










21.06.19 22:26 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/2 sec 50mm lens @ F2.8









21.06.19 22:31 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/2 sec 135mm lens @ F3.5









21.06.19 22:31 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1 sec 135mm lens @ F3.5









21.06.19 22:31 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1 sec 135mm lens @ F3.5









21.06.19 22:31 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1.6 sec 135mm lens @ F3.5









21.06.19 22:32 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1.6 sec 135mm lens @ F3.5





Partial Lunar Eclipse (65%)


16.07.19 22:12 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/40 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3





16.07.19 22:38 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/13 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3








16.07.19 22:40 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/125 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3









16.07.19 22:42 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/100 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3











16.07.19 23:02 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/200 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3











16.07.19 23:11 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/320 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3











16.07.19 23:12 UTC  Canon EOS 450D  800 ASA  1/320 sec 20cm Meade LX200 @ F6.3









Other sites of personal interest...


Amateurs                                                                          Commercial

Damian Peach's site                                                                Telescope House

Ian King's site                                                                         Coronado Hydrogen Alpha Filters

Jack Newton's site                                                                  Celestron U.K.

Nik Szymanek's site                                                                Meade

Rob Gendler's site                                                                  Starlight Xpress Ltd

Stefan Seip's site                                                                   True Technology Ltd

Steve Mandel's site                                                                Ian King Imaging

Thierry Legault's site                                                             Modern Astronomy

Brierley Hill Solar


Organisations/resources                                              Software

Astro buy/sell                                                                       Christian Buil's software      

American Meteor Society                                                       Registax for processing webcam images

Big Bear Solar Observatory latest images of the Sun                Firecapture software for Flea 3 etc

British Astronomical Association                                            Satellite predictions                

Cloud forecast for UK                                                           WinJUPOS

Cloudy Nights reviews                                                          Auto Stakkert!

Horace Dall, 1982  (video by Robin Scagell)                           Deep Sky Stacker

U.S. Naval Observatory Clock  UTC                                        GradientXTerminator

Luton Astronomical Society                                                   PHD autoguiding, DSLR shutter control etc                           

Observing Planets around other Stars via Transits!                  Stellarium planetarium software

Periodic error test results for mounts                                    Starry Dave software e.g. solar animations
(Google translator from French)

Prince Albert (South Africa) site                                            Noel Carboni's software

Solar astronomer's library

Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (International sunspot numbers)

SpaceWeather.com for solar activity and far more!

Unisys Jet Stream Forecast to assess likely seeing conditions

Jet Stream Forecast

Uk astro imaging forum

UK IR satellite cloud cover

Mount Wilson Observatory including archived sunspot drawings from the solar tower

IAU naming of planetary features




Established October 2000.           Copyright: P.J.Garbett