Half Moon

Taken in Harrow in 2005 using an amateur 3 inch refractor telescope and a simple compact digital camera hand-held next to the eyepiece.

Hardly any camera shake, but that was more luck than anything else.


Neale's  Astronomy  Page
The Total Solar Eclipse
of 1999
The UK solar eclipse of 1999 was total in Cornwall, in the extreme SW of England.  For most of us however it was a very impressive partial eclipse.

I decided to stay at home in Harrow, near London, where the eclipse was predicted to be 98% total and the weather forcast to be somewhat better than in Cornwall.

The picture on the right shows the eclipse taken from my garden using a simple 3" refractor telescope.

The transit of the moon is from top-right to lower-left.
Sun Spots
The same simple telescope and techniques were used to photograph these sun spots.  The image on the left was taken during the summer of 2000 when the sunspot activity was at a maximum.  The size of the largest 'spot' towards the centre is several times the diameter of planet earth !

Sunspot activity reaches a maximum every eleven years and can greatly enhance radio propagation.  Under these conditions radio hams in the UK can reach Australia with a transmitter power of only 10 watts - about a tenth of the power needed to light a domestic light bulb !!
The International
Space Station
This picture of the International Space Station (ISS) was taken on 15th Feb 2001 using an old Pentax SP500 camera fitted with a 28mm Soligor lens and pointing almost due west.
The pass lasted about 2 mins and is imaged by the almost vertical line in the picture.  When it was almost directly overhead it went into the earth's shadow and was invisible within seconds.

The bright blob just above the trees is Venus (slightly elongated because of the time exposure). Directly above Venus towards the top of the picture, are Saturn and Jupiter.
The film used was Ilford HP5 exposed for about 2 mins (ie. the length of the visible pass) at f5.6

For times, direction and visible magnitude of satellite passes you can't do any better than to go to this site run by Chris Peat.  It is very accurate, up to date and in my opinion it's the best of its kind.  Enter your observation point on earth and it sorts everything out.  What's more, the next time you visit the site it knows exactly where you are and will give all the details from your viewpoint.
The picture opposite shows the arrangement used. An image of the sun was projected onto white card though a prism so that direct light from the sun would not fall upon it.

The image can just be seen in the picture as the moon covers about 80% of the sun's disc.

Although most of the sunlight  was blocked by the moon there was still sufficient light to to take 'daylight' photographs. Everything took on an orange glow and the birds stopped singing for a few minutes.
Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars
The moon and three planets, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are shown here in close proximity. This is quite a rare sight, especially when you consider that it was taken in the UK when the event coincided with a cloudless night sky. The chance of seeing this does not happen very often in this part of the world.

Taken an hour or so after sunset during the winter of 1999 using my 25-year-old Pentax SP500 fitted with a 200mm lens.

Five Planets seenTogether

Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus seen here in one single frame.

This picture was taken from Harrow-on-the-Hill at the end of April 2002 when there was a conjunction of all the visible planets.

The fifth planet is the one in the foreground !

Film was HP5 exposed for about 5 seconds.

Pentax camera fitted with 28mm l


Transit of Venus

This transit of Venus took place on the 8th June 2004 and was photographed from Kingswood Warren in Surrey.. 

The transit took roughly two hours from start to finish, during which time the sky remained cloudless, as indeed it was for the whole day.

Notice the lack of sunspots as this was taken as we headed towards a sunspot minimum.