8th May 2018

I opened up around 23:00 and stayed until 03:15, imaging M27 and the very faint (I haven't been able to identify it yet) comet 21P/Giacobini–Zinner with the Tak. I have had problems with my D5300 so used the D750 instead. If it transpires that the comet is too faint and not visible in the images it should be considerably brighter in a few months. Good conditions although a lot cooler than the previous 2 nights.

7th May 2018

I opened up the large dome around 23:00, imaged M27 with the ODK (continuing from the night before). Once it was settled I set up my Star Adventurer behind the small dome pointed towards Cygnus then took my D5300 off the ODK and put it onto the SA for some experimental wide field shots. I had hoped to then continue imaging M27 with the ODK however the Cygnus wide field shots took longer than I anticipated and there was a bit of haze in the air so decided to close down around 03:00.

7.05.18 Monday

11.30 to 4.00pm Open day at Austerfield Study Centre so we opened the observatory to the general public for solar observing using the Coronado PST no sunspots on view but a small prominence for most of the day.
Busy day lots of visitors lots of questions assisted by Lesley, Jonathan,Paul, Elaine.
Dave and Lesley

5th May 2018

I opened up the small dome at 22:30.  GOTO Jupiter got the planet in view with a 26 mm eyepiece─it didn't have far to move but nevertheless I feel that the GOTO system is now operating well.
A transit with shadow of Europa started just after 23:00 and I have a series of pictures starting just before the transit started and going on until half way.  It didn't end until 01:20 and I felt disinclined to wait that long for a complete set.  Preliminary processing indicates excellent images, so I am very pleased.  Finally closed down about 01:00.

2nd May 2018

I opened up the small dome around 22:00.  The GOTO on the LX200 performed quite well.  I did an imaging session on Jupiter using my DFK camera and ADC (Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector).  Jupiter was still low in the sky and conditions were not good.  I have some images but don't hold out too much hope that they are good.  Weariness closed me down about 01:00 just before Jupiter reached culmination....

02/05/18 Wednesday

10pm opened with Jonathan in order to collimate the ODK.I think we achieved a positive result and learnt a lot in the process.There is more work to be done but we have a better idea on how to do it.Jonathan checked the result of our intervention on M13 which showed slight distortion of stars at the periphery still.We used the opportunity to try off axis guiding with an Advanced off axis guiding system which I abandoned years ago and failed again to make it work this time.Before we left I had a shot of Jupiter with a ZWO camera.Peter was working in the meantime on the Meade.He left about 2.00 am shortly followed by us overtaken by tiredness,the moon and cloud.


19 April 2018

I powered up the LX200 and the GOTO was way out.  Reset on the Moon and then reset the Park position.  GOTO the Moon was then much better.  Aligned on a suitable star in the south and completed two rounds of PEC training using a guide camera.  The guide log indicated that the RA drive is extremely good.  GOTO Jupiter was about 2 degrees out, so resynced on Jupiter and completed four captures using a DFK camera.  Jupiter was very low in the sky at 16°.  Couldn't use an atmospheric-dispersion corrector as I had omitted to take the adaptor needed to attach it.  However RegiStax can correct the colour registration and an acceptable image resulted.  Three of the Galilean satellites were visible (Europa was occulted at the time), but only Io was close enough to get in the same frame as the planet.
Closed down at 01:30.
Peter Lloyd.

Wednesday 18/4/18

Jonathan and I opened the observatory at 9.30 pm in order to test his newly acquired and self modified Nikon dslr camera.Initially murky skies cleared and we settled on M82 as a suitable target,
hoping that the modifications would enhance the starburst activity of the galaxy.I left a 1.30am leaving Jonathan with another hour or so of astronomical darkness.

General Maintenance on the LX200

Over the last month or so I have been giving the LX200 a general going over.  It hadn't been used for several months (and the dust cover had not been replaced) so needed a general clean, and I ejected a number of hibernating insects.
28 March:  I managed to get the GOTO working but the accuracy was poor.  Fitted a camera and managed to adjust the focus, but I'm concerned the focus lock has been disabled but the focus seems smooth and precise.  Two photos of the Moon, just to prove viability.
30 March:  Graticule illumination is intermittent, so took the Autostar controller home, fitted a replacement LED so now it works as it should.
18 April:  I tried to retrain the drives but was unsuccessful.  I have now had advice from the LX200GPS Yahoo group and know where I was going wrong.  I will repeat that as soon as a suitable opportunity arises.  Then I shall repeat the PEC training and we should be ready to go.  I hope to try for Jupiter in the next few days.


Sunday 15/04/2018

Paul, Elaine and I were joined by Jonathan this afternoon to spend two hours or so removing S. Yorkshire grime from the domes.Sue popped by with cute pooch to see how we were coping.
Thank you folks for helping.

Friday 23.03.18

I have a group of scouts booked in tonight for stargazing badge so will have to use to dome and scope manually.I reset the mount handset to handset only instead of both handset and pc and that worked ok went back to both and went through the scope (mount) settings on ascom changed the scope from sky6 control to AP  and the mount  connected ok and then changed back because the sky6 software didn't run when under AP control and the **** worked as it should rebooted the pc several times and all worked OK.
Went back 7.00pm to 16 scouts did the usual talk then into the dome but complete cloud cover closed down 9.00pm.

Wednesday 21.03.18

Went down to Austerfield to have a look at the mount Rhys said it disconnected half way through a photographic session sure enough when clicking connect on the ascom control panel the dome connects but not the scope (mount).
First thing I did was exchange the hard drive (easiest) but to no avail resat the serial card in the pc still no connection ran out of time will have to come back tomorrow'
Next day tried to fire up the pc but unable to mount master disc that  turned out to be the ide connector wasn't fitted properly from the day before unable to go any further so will have to take advise.

Tuesday 20.03.18

I opened at 10pm on an unexpected clear night, joined by Jonathan with his camera.We looked at M64 as a potential target but settled for M101 which remained available for the next 2 hours or so.At about 2 am we were too cold to continue so had a final look at Jupiter before closing down.Cygnus was rising in the East, heralding Summer none too soon.At some point the mount lost contact with the computer,I will need to speak to Dave about re-educating me and the mount.

08.03.18 Thursday

After Dr.Inskip's very interesting presentation on the exploration of Mars, Jonathan and I opened the observatory at anticipation of clear skies.By 11pm clouds had dispersed and we were able to start imaging.The target was M51 again,concentrating on focussing and the use of the Tak. to guide the O.D.K. Later we saw Jupiter rising so Jonathan tested his Nikon for planetary imaging.After a brief look at M5 we shut down at about 2 am.

Wednesday 07.03.18

Jonathan and I made use of unexpected clear skies in order to photograph M51 and the Leo Trio group of galaxies using Jonathan's kit.The evening was uneventful apart from my triggering the burglar alarm in the main block and so having to talk to some very pleasant  policemen on my way home.

09.02.18 -- Friday

Arrived at 7:30pm to find Rhys, Elaine and Paul already there.  Shortly joined by Jonathan.

Exceptionally clear night, best we have had for months. Started with M42 followed by the Rossette Nebulae NGC2244. We then went on to to look at M35, M37 and M38.

Dave saw two sporadic meteors and Rhys and Lesley saw a fantastic fireball straight through Cassiopeia, We all looked at Mizar and Alcor and finished with M31. Which was the best we have seen at Austerfield for some time.

The absence of street lights made a great difference and the seeing was exceptional. It became really cold so closed down at 9:30pm.


08.12.17 -- Friday

Opened up at 7.30 Brian had arrived just before myself, bitterly cold temperature in observatory 0 deg with wind blowing from the North.
Joined by a family with two small children Lesley showed then around the sky then a look at Capella but to cold for the children so they didn't stay long.
Neil and Jonathan arrived soon after followed by Phil ,the sky looked very good.

Managed to see M36,M37 Uranus and Neptune.By this time Orion has risen so had a look at M42 and finally managed to see M1 then round to NGC2392 and NGC869. In the meantime Jonathan had a go at setting up his new mount with camera only to find batteries don't like the cold but a standby power pack soon cured that
A very good nights viewing but becoming very humid and cold so closed down 9.30.
Dave and Lesley

4.12.17 -- Monday

The plan for tonight was to meet David Moore from the council's highways department to discuss the street lights near the observatory. This was planned for 5:00pm.
All went well from getting out of my house to getting into the car. It all went wrong from then as the car wouldn't start. It did all sorts of electronic tricks but wouldn't start. Fortunately my next door neighbour was watching and cheering, and offered to take me to the observatory. He did and we met Paul there, who was to pick me up if I fell over. I didn't but realised I'd left the keys in my car, so we couldn't get in. They're always there in the car so I never got down to the dome leaving them at home. It worked for 12 years faultlessly, till tonight when they were still in the car but I'd left the car at home!
Fortunately I'd also emailed Dave of the meeting. He was on the east coast in his van and didn't know I'd emailed him till he got home and found his house overheated having had a powercut while he was away and the automatic heating system had cut out, then restarted on full on when the power came on again giving his house several days of permanently full on heating. He read his emails (in his underwear (?)), and luckily, felt he needed to be at the observatory, so hurried down.
He'd had the forethought to bring his keys so could open up, to Paul's, my neighbour's and my great relief.
At the appointed time David Moore turned up. It transpired he'd been before, with Jim Blaik, some years ago, when Jim got the same street lights changed from the normal, at that time, to flat lights.
The three of us looked at the lights and David took notes of the lights concerned and what could be done, finally suggesting it might take some time to get the screens that Jim Blaik had had fitted for us to be redesigned and extended to suit our needs, but said he'd keep us informed of progress.
I'll have to see how friendly the Green Flag folk are tomorrow.

24.11.17 -- Friday

Opened up 7.30 shortly joined by Rhys and a couple of visitors, Kerry with her 6 year old son and Leon a visitor who came last week.
Brian came about 8.00pm followed by Elaine and Paul.Max and Wendy then a new member Paul with a friend.
We started with the moon just before it set,then onto M45 and Aldebran but the clouds came with vengeance eventually completely obliterating the sky all together.
We gave up by 9.15 closed the dome down as the clouds peeled away !!! by the time I locked up we had a shower of rain.
Dave and Lesley

18.11.17 -- Saturday

Lesley and I had a stargazing booking for 30 brownies and for once its a clear night
Started with the usual talk, a very good group lots of sensible questions then into the dome, no moon so a look at a few stars then into the field to point out some of the constellations.Closed down 9.00pm.

17.11.17 -- Friday

A clear Friday, getting more plentiful. Dave opened at 7:30pm I joined at 8, Rhys was there having set up the whole thing professionally. We were joined soon after that by Jonathan Lodge, new member, and later by a visitor, Neil Gutteridge from Hatfield, who also brought his telescope, a Skywatcher Newtonian he wanted collimating. It was close enough in general terms as far as I could do it in my state and in the dark. He was more knowledgeable on astronomy and the use of his telescope than usual, and sought more detailed help and advice, which we were able to provide. Jonathan and he and Rhys got to talking and exchanging experiences and looking round the sky, they were getting on so well together I left them to it. The sky deteriorated from the north from about 10pm and slowly developed into a full covering of thin debilitating cloud cover. Dave had already gone home by about 10pm, Neil about an hour later. Jonathan and I left at midnight with Rhys who closed it all down.

16.11.17 -- Thursday

A clear sky at last opened up 7.30
M57 looked good but no sign of M27 round to Alberio, mount behaving well so stayed around Cygnus for a hour or so.
A quick hop across to Taurus M45 looked good but to early for Orion.No one else turned up so closed down 9.30.

14.11.17 -- Friday

A school group of 11 children  asked if they could have a look in the observatories so I opened up 10.30am.
Fortunately the moon was visible so they all had a look then a quick talk about the Planets.Closed down 11.15

27.10.17 -- Friday

Unusually, the sky was clear, so I opened up at 8:00pm and was joined, preceded actually, by Rhys, and an hour later by Phil. Rhys had come down to photograph the Moon with his webcam and for a look round. Phil, to compare what he saw in his binoculars with that seen in the ODK. A good evening with few problems, but the trees are shedding their leaves and I'll have to contact the street lighting department to seek their help with shielding their new lights.
Finally closed down when the clouds started to spread, about 12:15am

6.10.17 -- Friday

Lesley and I opened up 7.00pm to a group of 52 Beavers,Cubs and Scouts all dressed in white paper suits pertaining to be space suits complete with 2 litre pop bottle oxygen cylinders,usual talk with usual cloudy sky, lots of good questions followed by 6 groups to tour the dome.
Closed down 11.00pm.

5.10.17 -- Thursday

8:30pm to 1:15am, A clear sky, though the seeing wasn't as good as hoped. Rhys and I there to practice on the ODK with Rhys' SX CCD camera on part of the Heart nebula. It has a small chip so only the central part, and in Ha too. Lots of time spent in getting things right, much was my fault, good practice though and finally a result, but not long enough to exhibit. The Moon was full too and not to far away, though that shouldn't adversely affect the result much. A good evening's practice. This was the first time for Rhys, with a not so simple mount and telescope.

30.9.17 -- Saturday

Opened up 7.00 pm for the first of the stargazing sessions after the summer break.
A group of 14 children from St John Ambulance ,unfortunately heavy rain prevented any stargazing so Lesley and I gave the usual talk then two groups into the dome to have a look at the telescopes.
A good group plenty of sensible questions no aliens or black holes
Closed down 9.00pm

18.8.17 -- Friday

 This was the day before the Auckley Show and Phil and Dave went down to collect the telescopes and things to take to the show. Loaded up and kept overnight before unloading at Auckley by 9:30am. To be returned after the show on Saturday.

12.8.17 -- Saturday

The annual Perseid Meteor Watch, but I was late, arriving after 10:00pm, others were already there on garden loungers or chairs under blankets etc. The sky was clearish though the forecast had suggested it would be cloudy. In fact it stayed clear till we closed down at 1:00am, when the fat moon rose too high for comfort.
I'm not sure who saw how many of what type but I know I heard more than I saw, and I saw 18 including a couple of spasmodics, with a mix of bright slow ones and fast thin ones.
It wasn't too cold but cold enough to wish I'd prepared more carefully. Dave had opened the big dome and I looked in to see the new cushions for the wall seat that Max or Wendy had made, felt very comfortable too, much easier on the bum than the plain wood.
Those attending tonight were Dave and Lesley, Paul and Elaine, Sandra, Bev, Vic, John Foster, who brought a friend, Mick Horsfall, and new member Kim.

26.5.17 -- Friday

Friday and a fully clear sky after the hottest day of the year so far. Opened up at 10:00pm, still quite light but gradually darkening. Attending were Rhys and the Bookers. The sky was also hazy and didn't look well, but improved as time passed. We started with Jupiter and on to others round the sky. The Bookers left at 11:00pm leaving Rhys and me on our own.
The haziness precluded nebulae so we concentrated on clusters, but tried and failed with M57 the Ring and M27 the Dumbell. Not enough contrast. Then went on to M51, seen, then M101, failed, then M13, M108, M97, M63, NGC4631 the Whale, M3, M81, M82, M53, M64 and others in the Coma Cluster, then on to Jupiter again and Saturn, followed by M11, M20, M16 and M17. M71 and M56, and a think so attempt at the Veil, and NGC6888. The sky was gradually improving as time went on. Not all in that order though, and there were others that I don't remember.
All in all a very good night indeed, the best for some time. As one says, wish you were there.

There was a problem, two in fact. The first was that the dome's lower shutter panel has a twist in it so the right hand closes to the flush position but the left is left a bit high, so the upper part closed down to the edge of the lower's left part, allowing rain potentially to enter. It just needs the shutter twisting the other way.
The other is more of a problem. The council has changed the street lights to the new LED type. They emit largely white light. We can't filter it out and they have left us with 3 outside that shine very strongly into the domes. All the others seem to be well directed. We'll have to talk to them about them. So unless we can get them to improve these lights we'll have 2 new Moons all night in summer and 3 in winter.

1.5.17 -- Monday

We were asked to open the domes for this the Centre's May Day celebration. They had games and things for children mostly and food and drinks too. So we set up both domes with solar telescopes, the Meade with a white light filter on the 80ED and the PST on the mount in the big dome. The sky was mostly cloudy but gradually cleared to let us have a look at the Sun. Only one spot and a couple of small prominences but still worth the effort for the many people who came in, not as many as last year, but that had the Tour de Yorkshire going past the gate on the same day.
Our helpers were Dave and Lesley, Paul and Elaine, Sue came as a visitor and Max brought Wendy and his mother too. Lesley went and collected Sandra and her Planets game because I'd forgotten her.

30.4.17 -- Sunday

A reasonable day for weather, dry at least. We met at the observatory to Spring Clean the domes, an annual event in Spring of all times. Done this time as for last year, because the Centre's May Day party was to be the next day and we planned to open the domes for visitors, in case the Sun shone upon us. We started at 10:00am and were done by about noon I think, using buckets, mops cloths, washing up liquid and all such cleaning chemicals. All very labour intensive but aided strongly by Mark who brought his power washer. Three of us said we should have brought ours too, so should remember to do just that next year. They looked very well when done.
Lots of washing on the outsides and vacuuming inside. Finishing up with a cup of tea in the building.
We were Dave and Leslie, Paul and Elaine, Mark, Rhys, Peter, Phil and Sue. I spent most of my time supervising from the bench, and keeping an eye on the blue tits in house number 1, though I couldn't see a number 2 or 3.

31.3.17 - Friday

Encouraging forecasts for several days leading up to Friday, but after setting up the occasion, following on from a page on the BBC website encouraging visitors to go to certain observatories, including ours, the weather did the expected and turned cloudy. This was partly because of the BBC's Stargazing Live conducted over the three days before the Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So after getting other members to come with telescopes too, they were greeted by full cloud. And plenty came too, Rhys brought his sister Rhiane, and his Celestron, Max and Wendy, Mark brought his Celestron, Paul and Elaine, Sandra and Sue came too.
It did begin to clear up after 10:00pm when most had tired of it. We did see the Moon, very good too, and Jupiter and a couple of stars, Betalgeuse, Mizar. We also chased Comet C/41P but failed that too, helped by the cloud. Finally closed down about 11.

24.3.17 - Friday

For a change a clear Friday night, so I opened up at 7:30pm and was soon inundated by others, about a dozen in all came for a look round the sky. I was so overwhelmed by the numbers that I don't remember all who came, but they included Phil and Richard, Richard for the first time in ages. Also there was Max, and Wendy came too with her son and his girlfriend, two others who had called Dave for a visit previously, Dave of course, Rhys, but he left soon, to work with his cameras. Two more visiting couples, Paul and Elaine, and a father and son from Pudsey! He'd come for a look at the sky too and had brought his 4" Celestron. He visits different societies in the area, and to ours this Friday. He was certainly one I'd like to see here again, too far to be a permanent member though.
They all seemed to be enjoying themselves too. They'd mostly left by 10pm, so I closed down and left for some late night shopping.


Opened up 7.00pm for a group of guides to heavy rain so started the usual talk.
After that we split the group into two and went to the observatory to a clear sky both groups had a look at M42,Sirius, Pollux and Castor then a trawl across the sky looking at various stars and clusters.
They all said what a great night .Helped by Lesley and Max closed down 9.30.

14.03.17 - Tuesday

A group of 22 mixed ages from 8 to 16 for stargazing started with a reasonable sky but to many to get into the observatory all at once so decided to do the talk then split into groups.
A good sky to start with but clouded towards the end but every one at least managed to see something.Maybe I should grab a clear sky when I get one and leave the talk to later.Closed down 9.00pm.

24.02.17 - Friday

Opened up 6.00pm for a new group of cubs they missed a clear sky by 10 minutes. Mars and Venus clearly visible till they turned up and the clouds rolled in so they got the usual talk then a look around the dome.
Closed down 8.30pm    Dave

14.02.17 - Tuesday

Second night of a large group of scouts 28 last night and 25 tonight opened up 6.00pm helped by Lesley and yet again a cloud filled the usual talk,hot dogs and hot chocolate then into the observatory.
Divided into two groups but with the helpers far to little room all crowding around the pc wanting to have a go controlling the scope and dome it felt like mayhem.Closed the dome 8.00pm
Dave and Lesley

13.02.17 - Monday

When will this dreadful weather end.Max and I had another group of scouts for stargazing who didn't see a thing so the usual talk helped by copious supplies of hot dogs and hot chocolate (this group came prepared) then into the observatory to look at the telescopes.
Then they had a swearing ceremony as it was a new group due to excessive demand for membership.
Closed down 8.00pm Dave

08.02.17 - Wednesday

Opened 7.00pm Stargazing for a group of scouts only to find the usual rain and cloud cover.
The scout leader decided to cut the session short  due to the weather.
Showed them the telescopes and gave usual talk.
Closed down 8.00pm.

06.02.17 - Monday

6.00 to 8.30pm a group of Brownies booked in for stargazing unfortunately to torrential rain so the usual talk then into the observatory to look at the telescopes and a play with the p.c.
A good group some very good questions invited back first clear Friday.

04.02.17 - Saturday

A promise of a clear sky early in the evening so I opened up 6.00pm Lesley and I trawled the sky starting with Venus,Mars and Uranus.
Later we were joined by a couple of visitors who called on the off chance someone might be there.
We then moved onto M42,M45,M31.Lesley then gave the visitors a tour around the constellations out in the field.
The clouds started to roll in around 8.30 the visitors had gone so I closed down 8.45pm.   Dave

31.01.17 - Tuesday

6.00 till 7.30 a group of  20 Brownies for stargazing and yet again cloud and heavy rain so the usual talk then into the observatory to look at the telescopes and a play with the pc .
They seem to forget the stars when they operate the dome and telescope, they seem to enjoy that most.
Closed down 7.30   Dave

20.01.17 - Friday

Opened up 7.15 to a clear sky soon joined by Max and Brian, had a run through of the start up and close down procedure then had a look at Venus before it set then onto Mars.A good sky so we decided to test it and had a look at M1 did we see it or not ? I don't know ,very faint next lets try something silly and try to see the horse head and the flame nebulae definitely no success there, so back to the old favourite M42 with a UHC filter looked superb.
Suddenly got very cold and a fog rolled in so called it a night 9.00pm.

18.01.17- Wednesday

Stargazing for a group of 23 cubs opened up 6.30 to a cloudy sky so gave usual talk then into the dome for a play with the pc controlling the observatory closed down 8.30.