My Observed (and Unobserved) Messier objects

Looking back, it has now been four years since I bought my Skywatcher Newtonian telescope and I thought it worth taking a look at my slow and stately progress through the Messier Deep Space Objects. Purely coincidentally, my logs indicate that I have observed 55 – exactly one half of them. I’ve provided a schematic plot of the night sky, with the Messier objects colour coded according to my progress. North and South are top and bottom and, given my observing position just to the north of London, it’s no real surprise that I’ve progressed the Northern half rather more…

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Amateur Spectroscopy

I have an interesting new tool: a StarAnalyzer diffraction grating which allows for simple analysis of point source spectroscopy with suitable software – the chart here was produces with RSpec. It’s not professional grade – there is no spectrographic slit let alone fibre optics to focus attention on a handful of pixel nevertheless it is possible to get interesting and useful data. The chart is Vega’s spectrum (an A0 class star). We would expect it to have strong hydrogen lines and we see these at 4341 (H-gamma), 4862 (H-beta) and 6565 (H-alpha) angstrom. I’ve also got a spectra for Mirach,…

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Revisiting an old image – and a happy new discovery !

In June 2017, I took this image of M57 (the Ring Nebula): It was a bit of a test-run for me: through my Explorer 200p with a mono ASI290MM CMOS camera – 50 integrations of 10 seconds each, gain set just a little high, with no filter other than an IR-blocker in place. The image is also in my Site Gallery. This month, I fed the image through Astrometry.Net (for the full results click HERE). For those who may not have seen the site, it takes a star-field image and “plate-solves” the image to determine the position of the exposure…

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Postgraduate Study Course – Liverpool John Moores University

In September 2017, I started work on a MSc in Observational Astrophysics, studying at Liverpool John Moores University. I’d also considered the Postgraduate Diploma in Astronomy from the University of York as a possibility, plumping for LJMU because i) it offered a full Masters degree and ii) the syllabus looked considerably more challenging. Both are distance courses and hence ideal for a late middle-aged bloke with lots of enthusiasm and interest but no focus on making a career out of it. So … I’m one semester into a two year course and have just taken the exams for the first…

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