Saturday 4/5/2019

I opened up the big dome around 22:00, very cloudy, however by 23:30 the skies cleared and for about half an hour were wonderfully cloud free, then patches of cloud blew in from the North and it became increasing poor. I closed up around 01:20 when it was nearly 100% cloud cover.

Despite not getting a lot of data the positives are that I can compare the Ha of no moon last night with previous 97% Ha data from a few weeks ago to see the difference. I also added graduated stickers to the Tak so that it is easy to get the same camera alignment between sessions. I also slewed the scope around to find positions to avoid pier collisions.


Saturday 27/04/19

16 cubs from the 24th Rotherham Cub Pack listened attentively to Peter's presentation.Unfortunately it was too cloudy and wet to show them the domes.

Sunday 21/4/2019

I opened up the big dome around 22:15 to gather Hydrogen Alpha data for M81 & M82, the weather has not been great lately so this project feels like it is taking some doing. The Moon was 97% so it will be interesting to gather more Ha data when there is no Moon to see how they compare. I also used dithering for the first time with the new setup as having processed some data from earlier in the year I believe that it will beneficial. It was a lovely clear night despite the Moon with no technical problems. I closed up around 03:40.


Friday 20/4/19

8.30-11.00pm I demonstrated the large dome to family of three adults and a father with a teenage daughter.There was a full moon and intermittent high cloud so not a great deal to see.Photographs of the moon were taken with a Canon DSLR outside and with phone cameras on the ODK.We looked at Mars, Alcor and Mizar. M13 was very indistinct.I am to keep in touch with a potential astrophotographer when conditions are more favourable.

Friday 29/03/2019

John and I opened the observatories around 20:00, me in the photographic dome and John in the visual dome, no visitors this evening. I successfully got the new motor focuser interfaced with my acquisition software and used auto focus whilst I captured some more data for M81 & M82. The sky was a bit murky with bits of high cloud but it stayed mostly clear. Not a lot of clear nights lately and the forecast for coming clear nights have changed to cloud, so I'm glad that I managed to get something.

I have also opened up the big dome on 3rd, 5th, 26th, 27th Feb and the 7th March.


Tuesday 19/3/19

About 25 Guides and Brownies from Woodlands attended Jonathan's presentation showing interest and good behaviour.John and I showed them the workings of the larger dome,but, unfortunately,no astronomy because of cloud cover.

Friday 22.2.19

28 scouts and their leaders were resident at Austerfield.Peter gave the talk while I showed groups of 7 the big dome.The sky was reasonably clear and the moon had not risen,so most of us were able to see Rigel ,M42,M45,Mars and M31 through the ODK and for the Pleiades,the Tak.The children were on the whole well behaved and interested but a little cold.

Thursday 14.2,19

The Society met this evening to hear Peter's illuminating talk on celestial co-ordinates and the Moon's orbital pathways.We were fortunate to experience a clear night so some of us observed the moon at 70% illumination through the Meade and ODK.Mizar, Alcor ,M45, M42,the Double Cluster and Owl clusters were clear.M31 M81,M82 less so but still discernible in the moonlit milky sky.Those who attended enjoyed the evening at this location.I hope we can do this more often.


12 scouts attended the observatory.Jonathan gave the talk,John and I were able to show the Moon,M45,M42 and M31 using both domes looking through gaps in the clouds.It is some time since we were able to see as much and this was clearly appreciated by the children.

Wednesday 6.2.19

We entertained about 17 members of the East Bessacarr Cub pack who were attentive, interested and well behaved,Jonathan gave the talk,Elaine and I showed them the contents of the large dome.We were able sadly only to show them Capella an Aldebaran though the clouds.

Wednesday 30/01/2019

I opened up the large dome around 7pm and imaged the Horsehead Nebula and then when it got low in the sky and changed target to the Leo Triplet. Sky conditions were very good although the light pollution to the south from Bawtry Carbon International seemed quite bad. It was a very cold night, I took refuge in the study centre but in the end decided to call it a night at around 3am due to the cold despite the sky still being clear which was a shame.


Friday 11/01/19

I opened the domes 6.30 pm to demonstrate our kit to Kevin. a prospective member.He has built his own observatory but has yet to install his scope and pier ready for astrophotography.The sky was typically overcast in spite of promising forecasts so we packed up about 7.0 pm.

Thursday 13/12/2018

I opened up the large dome to gather more data on M77 and it's supernova, a repeat of Sunday evening with intermittent cloud despite a decent forecast. After the Christmas meal I showed fellow member Paul around the big dome and then opened up the small dome and we viewed Betelgeuse and Sirius through Geraldine, Sirius was very low and displayed a fantastic range of colours. I closed down around 23:00.


Sunday 10/12/2018

I opened up the big dome around 18:00 with a view to image M77 and the supernova therein, guiding issues and the weather had other ideas though, I managed some LRGB data, hopefully enough to make a worthwhile image. I closed at about 01:00 when M77 was low in the sky.


Tuesday 4/12/18

Some 20 or so cubs and their leaders from the Doncaster 10th pack appreciated Jonathan's talk and were later shown the workings of the large dome.In spite of the clouds we were able to see Vega with the ODK and, as clouds thinned slightly, the Pleiades with the Tak,which impressed the company.

Saturday 17/11/18

Peter did the presentation to 10 Brownies while John, Elaine,Paul,Mark and I looked at the sky through the ODK.Moonlight and poor seeing meant we could barely make out the globular clusters M13 M92 nor the Ring Nebula M57 so to demonstrate the telescopes to the children we showed them the Pleiades through the spotter scope then the main scope.We looked at the Moon and Mars which impressed the Brownies who thought the experience "cool".

Friday 02/11/18

Jonathan,Elaine,Paul,Sandra,John and me verses 31 children from the 42 Edenthorpe Cubs and Beavers.Some were well versed with their planets most I think enjoyed the view of the stars and Mars in the murky skies and watching the dome rotate.We managed a glimpse of the Ring Nebula in Lyra M13 , M31 even though the seeing was not so good.

Friday 26/10/18

11 members of the 66th Doncaster Guides and their leaders attended a stargazing evening.For the Society Jonathan gave the talk,Elaine and Sandra showed them the sky,Peter the small dome and I the photographic dome.There was patchy cloud cover blown by a moderate northerly breeze giving some clear periods allowing us to see the full moon lying low to the East,Mars M31 Owl and Double clusters.We could have shown more but parents arrived to collect the girls.I was able to find the Garnet star which pleased Elaine and Sandra.

Sunday 21/10/2018

I opened up the large dome around 19:00, there was 100% cloud cover, more than forecast, it dispersed a little after 20:00 when imaging began, then some intermittent cloud appeared between 22:00 and 23:00 which halted imaging, then following that it remained clear up until closing at 06:00 when it started to get light. The majority of imaging was Ha this evening given the bright Moon, although once it set I managed 1.5 hrs of SII. I now hopefully have enough data for my target, I am going to give PixInsight a try and hope that I have used the correct exposure settings on this new camera.


Saturday 20/10/18

15 Cubs from Rotherham were given the talk by Jonathan and shown the telescopes by John and me.They were an enthusiastic group of children and their leaders who were enthralled by views of the Moon,the Owl cluster and Double cluster through the ODK as well as Mars through the Meade.In addition Elaine and Sandra were able to demonstrate constellations and asterisms.The weather was mostly clear so we all were able to enjoy the evening sky.

Thursday 18/10/2018

I opened up the big dome around 19:15, no technical issues, the sky was better than forecast. Peter arrived around 20:00 and set up Geraldine to image Mars. I imaged Ha for my target until the Moon set when I acquired more SII data for the same target. Around 04:00 it clouded over and I closed up around 04:30.


Saturday 13/10/2018

It was the turn of 1st Rotherham Scouts to be entertained by Jonathan giving the presentation and me showing them the telescopes in the large dome.Only clouds to be seen in the sky but they were amused by the rotating dome.

Wednesday 10/10/2018

I opened up the large dome again around 19:30, set up was fairly quick and no technical issues this time, I imaged up until just after the meridian flip when a lot of un-forecast fog/mist drew in and then higher cloud, so I closed up at around 01:30.


Tuesday 9/10/2018

I opened up the large dome around 19:30, I had had more issues with Plate Solving on Saturday evening's imaging after the Beaver presentation, however with help from a knowledgeable member on the Cloudy Nights forum this was solved with the tick of a single settings box in my acquisition software. Also the auto meridian flip worked flawlessly and re-acquired the target perfectly. The only thing that I have to watch on the flip is the power lead popping off the back of my camera, I think a bit off tape will be the solution as it is not the tightest fit. It took while to get imaging do to a number of minor technical issues, however once everything was sorted I stayed until 05:30 with (hopefully) a lot of good data to show for it.


Monday 8/10/18

This evening it was the turn of the 47th Edenthorpe Scouts to visit the observatory.Jonathan offered the presentation to lively group who were shown the large dome afterwards.Sadly the sky was overcast so no observations were possible.

Saturday 6/10/18

We entertained the 1st Rotherham Beavers on a clear night.Jonathan gave the presentation and John and I showed groups of 6,6 and 5 the workings of the large dome.We were able to demonstrate Saturn ,Mars and M31 to most of the children and their leaders.I think the evening went well for all concerned.

Sunday 30/09/18, 20-23hrs

Peter,Jonathan, John Cox and I met on a clear evening to familiarise ourselves with the workings of the large and the small domes.We were able to see a number Messier objects and Neptune which may be of interest to our visitors this coming weekend.

Friday 21.09 18

Opened at 7.55pm but had to leave 8.15pm leaving Paul and Elaine to deal with further arrivals.Thanks.

Monday 18/09/2018

I opened up the big dome at around 21:30, got plate solving to work successfully, did a manual meridian flip without incident although plate solving would not center on the target, I think that I know the solution now though. 100% cloud cover in a short space of time stopped me at around 03:30 so I packed everything away, then on the way to the car at 04:00 it was totally clear again. I tried to find the 21P Giacobani/Zinner Comet visually but did not locate it. Observed M42 and a few other targets and left at 04:45, when it had clouded over again.


Friday 14/09/2018

Rhys and I opened up the big dome at 21:30, I got plate solving to work except that the target was off center a little, but tweaking settings should sort this out. Nevertheless both of us were impressed how quickly and well it worked.

We then did some visual observations of a few Messier objects, cloud was intermittent. We left at around midnight.


Wednesday 12/09/2018

I opened up the big dome at around 20:30 and trialling the excellent Sequence Generator Pro I got an hour each for the RGB filters on my target. I also managed to get my laptop to communicate directly with the mount so hopefully I shall be able to use plate solving next time and get a close alignment with the previous session on the same target for the Narrow band filters. Focusing and flats were the time consuming part of the session, but I am looking into ways of speeding these processes up. I closed up at around 02:00 due to tiredness and I had what I set out to get.


Thursday 06/09/2018

I opened up the big dome at 21:30 in order to further test my new imaging equipment, I had success in what I set out to do, also identified issues with software that need to be overcome. Cloud was intermittent, I closed up at midnight due to most of the sky clouding over.


Friday 31.08.18

I opened the large dome at 9.00 p.m.,was shortly afterwards joined by Jonathan and a little later by Paul and Elaine.Although not quite night we were able to see M57,the Ring Nebula in Lyra.Later as the sky darkened globular clusters M13 and M92 in Hercules became very clear.We looked at the Owl Cluster , open cluster M34, Albireo and the Andromeda galaxy M31.Elaine demonstrated the Coat Hanger asterism through her binoculars.About 10.00 Paul and Elaine left to allow Jonathan to set up his recently acquired ZWO kit to image the Crescent Nebula.In the meantime we were joined once more by a family of 2 adults and 3 children who were looking forward to seeing the moon through a large telescope.Unfortunately for them the moon had not fully risen but they appeared to be quite content to look at Mars through Geraldine, once she had settled down.They left and I closed the small dome, I trust correctly.I went home about 1.00 a.m. leaving Jonathan to complete his imaging.

Wednesday 22.08.18

I opened up the small dome at 00:45 with a view to imaging Neptune.  Geraldine had not been parked correctly after her last use so I had to put her back manually before I could hope for good GOTO.  The dome had also not really been secured correctly.

Initial goto Neptune appeared to be good but I was unable to identify the planet for certain.  I moved to Sadalmelik, a third magnitude star not too far away, and synced the 'scope there.  Returning to Neptune, I was still uncertain I had found it so moved to Lambda Aquarii, which I was pleased to find in Geraldine's data base and less than 4 degrees from Neptune.  I synced again there and returned to Neptune.  A bright object appeared on my camera and I imaged it in the hope it was Neptune.  However I'm not so sure as it didn't look blue, so may have been a nearby star.

The Pleiades were clearly visible in the east so I told Geraldine to go there but she set off in completely the wrong direction.  I had to stop her manually, moved her to M45 manually and re-synced.  A splendid sight through the 80ED with a 25mm eyepiece.

Finally she parked correctly.  I closed up and left at 0245 BST.


Thursday 16/08/2018

Rhys and I had a look at cleaning the front element of the Tak, we used a hand-blower to blow off some dust, although stopped at that after reading about the potential for damaging the glass coating. Will investigate cleaning methods further, Rhys also adjusted the finder scope so that it is aligned with the ODK. We looked at aligning the Tak with the ODK, but this would require unmounting both scopes, disassembling the mount and drilling a hole in it, which we felt was not worth the marginal benefit.

Initially it was fairly clear around 9pm, then clouded over heavily around 10pm but then cleared up nicely for 11pm. I had brought my D750 just in case and I stayed until 3:15am to image M31 The Andromeda Galaxy.


Friday 10/8/2018

I opened up both domes at 10pm, we had a good turn out for the Perseid Meteor Shower (the prime night would be Saturday, however the forecast was not very good), myself, Elaine, Paul, John, Neil, Peter and Rhys. A family visited and we were able to show them Saturn through the visual dome and M31 through the Tak in the big dome, all were suitably impressed and hoped to attend future meetings.

I set up on the Tak to image M33 The Triangulum Galaxy and John was set up on the Meade (Geraldine) in the visual dome for the planets. I also set up my other camera behind the domes pointing south east with a wide angle lens to capture the perseids after John and I witnessed a huge fireball just after 1am. From my images the Perseids seemed the most active towards 3am just as i was finishing. We both left around 3:30am.


Saturday 4.8.18

I opened up at 21:00 in order the check out Geraldine after her wrong behaviour last time.  She booted up normally and went to Jupiter with reasonable accuracy.  She parked in the correct place and generally behaved impeccably.
I waited until 21:30 for the sky to darken, and managed some good captures of Saturn.  I was then joined by John Cox and we put his camera on and he spent time imaging Saturn too.
About 12:00 Mars emerged from behind the trees, and I was able to capture images in colour and in infra-red.  We then put John's camera on and he too obtained images in colour.  Finally John wanted to try to see M31, but was unsuccessful both with Garaldine (focal length far too long) and with the ST80.
Finally parked Geraldine as normal, and closed up at 01:30 leaving John with Rhys in the big dome.


Tuesday 31st July 2018

I opened up the small dome at about 22:40 BST and used Geraldine to image Mars (at its closest to us this year) and Saturn.  Geraldine behaved impeccably with all GOTOs putting the object well within the view with a 28mm eyepiece.  However at close-down she insisted in going to 90° Dec when she should go to 0°.  I tried rebooting to no avail.  Not feeling like troubleshooting at 01:00 I switched her off and manually put her back where she should have been.  However I expect her to misbehave next time.  The obvious indication was that on power up she displayed 'Align' instead of 'Daylight Saving?'.
I will investigate this when I am able.  I finally closed up and departed at 01:30.

Saturday 28.07.18

I met Paul D'Silva and Mick Collinson from MSAS at the observatory at 9.00 p.m.The sky was clearer than forecasts predicted so we set about pointing Geraldine towards Jupiter in the setting sunlight.Peter joined us shortly afterwards and added his expertise. Jonathan arrived without camera so we opened the larger dome for observations with Mick while the others engaged in planetary imaging.The sky being very milky from the bright full moon, even open and globular clusters were not readily discerned but we were able to see Jupiter and Saturn.Eventually Mars appeared from behind the trees and Paul was able to capture a series of frames.We left about 1.00am leaving Peter to continue imaging.We all enjoyed the shared experience despite the less than ideal conditions.

Friday 20/07/18

We were host to an exploratory group from MSAS with a view to a further visit next week to observe and image Mars and perhaps a Lunar eclipse,while their own observatory is undergoing structural work.Thanks to Peter who demonstrated that both domes are now operational, we should be able to entertain a larger party from their society.Jonathan Paul and Elaine were also present and helped to load the van for the Potteric Carr event.It was an interesting meeting for both societies.I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.

Manual Opener for the large dome 18.7.18

I have completed a manual controller for the shutters on the large dome, and installed it on Saturday 14th July 2018.  It completely replaces the automatic controller which is faulty.   Final adjustments made today mean that:
1.  Both shutters stop automatically when they reach the limit of their travel.
2.  I have removed the interlock which prevented the lower shutter opening or closing if the upper shutter is closed.  It is now the operator's responsibility to implement Upper Shutter Open First, Close Last.
3.  The lower shutter now closes properly.

Peter Lloyd

Thursday 5.7.18

Jonathan and I took it upon ourselves to investigate the solar filter system and attached it to the Skywatcher 80ED in the smaller dome.Most carefully following the instructions we were able to assemble the apparatus and point it to the Sun for observation and photography,with Jonathan's DSLR and Smartphone.Apart from a small prominence there was little visible activity on the surface but we were pleased that the system functioned properly.Peter attended the large dome to take current measurements.
There were lots of children about, We left at about 2.00pm

Wednesday 4.7.18

This morning Dave,Jonathan,Peter and I gathered in the large dome to fix the shutters.Even though we replaced the faulty switches at the top,the bottom shutter stubbornly would not open.We considered a simpler method for controlling the shutters and Peter agreed to investigate this option.Max and Wendy popped in to see what we were doing and added to the company.

Saturday 30.6.18

With the help of Peter I was able to familiarize myself with the workings of the Meade, aka Geraldine in the small dome between 10.30pm.and 1.30am.last night. Peter imaged Jupiter and Saturn.With persisting clear skies I used my ZWO camera to image Saturn with and without a x2 Barlow.The waning gibbous moon had just risen as we left.

Thursday-Friday 28-29 June 2018

The focuser on Geraldine has been sticking, so I removed it on Thursday and took it home, and opened it up on the bench.  I couldn't work out how to remove the friction bearing to see if that was worn but I did manage to remove two of the four pressure rollers, one of which was slightly corroded.  I cleaned this up and ensured that both rotated freely.
I couldn't remove the other two, but with the slide lose I could ensure that they rotated easily.  One has a gap in the roller surface and I made sure that that would not contact the slide during normal use.  Fortunately they only turn about half a turn in normal operation.  On reassembly all seems to work well.  I can only assume dirt had got into those roller bearings causing the sticking.

I returned the unit to Garaldine on Friday night and it performed well with the diagonal/eyepiece or camera installed.

Imaged Jupiter mainly to check focus, then Saturn.  Very low in the sky but just clearing the trees to the south.  Again I got a few images before clouds rolled in at midnight.

Closed up about 12:15.

Peter Lloyd.