Thursday, 13 December 2018

Comet 46/P Wirtanen from Shetland

If I had accepted the numerous weather forecasts on Monday I wouldn't have gone out as most said a min of 98% cloud.

There was no hint of the Aurora when we ventured out at 6.15 pm (it did show briefly at 10.30 pm) but the sky was stunning and only 5% cloud , so why on earth did the forecasts say otherwise (well it is only a forecast). They did get the wind and temperature correct with only a force 2-3 and 1 degree.

I headed to a local dark site and it could have been anywhere in Shetland but this was over at Bigton to the west and only 10 mins away.

Quickly setting up I wanted to find the Comet 46/P Wirtanen which is the brightest today (12 12 18)at magnitude 3 . It actually is closer to earth on the 16 December when it is only 11.6 M Km away and it should look bigger then. 

The problem will be the wind in Shetland with force 7 winds expecting so photography will be very difficult.

Anyway the green comet did show up in the photos, despite a fuzz appearance.

Another target was the Plough, again easily picked up to the north while Mars was showing well to the south


The milky way was spectacular to the west and with no moon to provide any light pollution many stars became visible.

It makes you wonder just how many satellites are orbiting the earth when you can capture 3 or 4 in one 15 second frame. One however the Iridium satellites which produce  a nice flare will no longer be flashing in the sky after this month, with new ones being launched which don't show the middle bulge.

Besides all the targets I went to photograph, it's an excellent period for  Geminid meteors 14- 18 December which are usually very bright and around 120 per hour. Had it not been for Force 6-7 winds for the rest of this week, they would have been a great target with the Comet.

                   Coastguard helicopter and the Plough

All the photos on this page were taken with a Sony A7s and a 24mm Samyang lens, ISO6400 F2 between 10-15 seconds depending on direction

I have just finished delivering the Night Sky Photography Course in Lerwick and the revised course has gone down very well. I will be running this again next November so keep an eye out for details, places go quick.

 Milky  Way over St Ninian's Tombolo

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Shetland Aurora Hunter

It was a nice surprise when Radio Shetland contacted me to conduct two interview about Shetland Aurora Hunter which was two years old on the 26 November 2018. With 2,368 members its going well and the radio station wanted to find out why i set it up and what it covered.
cover photo, Image may contain: night, sky and text
The programs went out on Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th November - the longer one. All good publicity for our Facebook group and for my Night Sky Photography course which is about 1/2 way through the course and going well.

The Facebook Group has grown as a result of the interview but we are still getting many requests from people with false profiles so it takes time to sort them.

You an hear them here

at 24.5

at 37.48

Saturday, 24 November 2018

St Ninian's isle, Shetland at night

No Aurora activity for a few days now and a series of spotless days on the sun. We did however have a couple of sunspots which shed a bit of light on the fact that we might becoming out of the Solar minimum

Stars above Bigton Kirk

Looking south with Mars in view
St Ninian's Tombolo

Looking south from Ireland towards St Ninian's

Boats on the horizon

Friday, 16 November 2018

Starry Night in Shetland

No Aurora the other night but just managed to capture some stars before the clouds came in. Pleased to see one of my Aurora photos have been used by Shetland Accomadation Guide 2019

 Bigton Church
Sandwick Church

 St Ninian's Isle without the Moon
 St Ninian's Isle with the Moon out
Looking NW from Bigton
Looking south from Sanick, Sandwick