Monday 29/06/20

We visited the site at Austerfield and checked both of the domes on the inside (no equipment turned on or shutters moved).

We received a generous donation of a Skywatcher 130M on an EQ2 mount for use during the Educational outreach sessions. I cleaned the surfaces of the photographic dome and Jonny placed the 130M and the EQ2 in one of the cupboards for storing. Both domes looked dry, no damp or leaks and were in good order.

Jonny took the Meade EXT125 to use but realised it was not working, this was returned to Peter for him to check it over in attempts to fix it today (01.07.20).

We have borrowed :
Hyperion Zoom Barlow 2.25x
Tele Vue Visionary 2x Power Mate
Mark III Hyperion Zoom 8-24mm

Rachael W

Monday 09/03/20 - Stargazing

This evening we had 9 children along with 9 adults, from the 7th Doncaster Boys Brigade & Girls association, for an educational outreach session. Unfortunately the sky was completely clouded over and the Moon was not visible. Due to heavy rain, the ground was wet and muddy so it was not possible to do a dome tour.

I opened up the main hall along with Jonny at 6.10pm and set up for the talk. No domes were opened due to heavy rain.

The talk began at 6.30pm

The children enjoyed the session and were very interested and engaged with the activities, as were the adults, who also joined in with some very interesting questions.

The session finished at 7.35 as requested and all visitors were off-site by 7.45.
I swept the hall, locked up and we left around 7.55pm.


Monday 10.2.20

At some time last night the wind tore the upper shutter and the retaining bracket from the small dome roof. Peter was the first responder and with typical resourcefulness managed to repair the fixing bolts so we were able to reassemble the shutters.There was no evidence of damage to the telescopes, but the carpet was soaked. Care needs to be taken when closing the dome to ensure that the bolts on the lower shutter are properly engaged.

Wednesday 05/02/2020

This evening we had 22 Beavers and 4 leaders in for a stargazing session. Jonny and I arrived at 6pm and opened up the hall and set up for the talk. Jonathan L joined shortly after and opened up the imaging dome and set up the ODK. We were then joined by John who set up the Visual dome. The talk was successful and all children managed to observe the Moon through the ODK with Jonathan and look at the set up / Moon / Venus with John. At around 7.30 we then took the opportunity to observe the visible constellations, including Orion and also Venus through the clear patches of sky.

The Beavers were very enthusiastic and contributed with some fantastic questions.

Jonathan, Jonny and myself left around 8.40pm and John stayed on site.


Saturday 1/2/2020

24 members of the 71st Doncaster Hunafa Scouts joined us under patchy cloud with a few clear spots. Jonny and Rachael gave the presentation with some new interactive elements which were very well received. I had the ODK trained on the 47% Moon which was mostly visible to all groups through the intermittent cloud but the later groups got a better view. Geraldine was pointed at Venus which was very intermittent but one group did get to see and they were suitably impressed. The Scouts were a lively, engaged group and asked many good questions.

Jonathan L.

Saturday 7/12/2019

22 members of the Boston Sea Scouts were visiting, Jonny and Rachael gave their first presentation, I interupted part way through as the clouds thinned out sufficiently for us to view the Moon though the ODK and the LX200 which greatly impressed them. Shortly after they went back inside the thick clouds rolled in obscuring everything. The Scouts were a lively, engaged group and asked many good questions.


For Vic: 12 Brownies on 5/12/2019, no observatory due to weather and time.

Tuesday 3/12/2019

Better than forecast skies inspired me to open up around 17:15, more technical issues of a different nature to the previous session although backups paid off and I managed just over 3 hours of imaging. I was joined by John around 19:45 and then an unexpected visit from Rhys was a nice surprise. We had some good discussions (hopefully not distracting John too much), Rhys was impressed with the workings of Sequence Generator Pro, running the equipment and seemed inspired to try it out on his setup. Clouds rolled in on schedule around 22:00, we packed up and John closed up around 23:00.


Sunday 1/12/2019

I opened up at 17:00 to make the most of the clear night as we haven't had many lately. Was joined by John later on around 20:00. I had a good imaging run using a new mini pc although had guiding issues throughout. The cloud rolled in quickly just before 03:00 and John and I left around 04:00.


Monday 18/11/2019

I opened up around 19:00 and was joined by Rachael and Jonny not long afterwards. I captured a little more data for IC1795 (using SGP) after unsuccessfully trying to get autofocus in N.I.N.A. configured. R & J did some visual work in the small dome and left around 21:00. I stayed until around 00:30 following high cloud which had moved in around 23:45.

We haven't had many clear nights at all these past couple of months, hopefully this will change...


Monday 11/11/2019

Mercury Transit

I arrived around 12:30 and was greeted by Dave, Leslie and Rhys who were already there and setting up the Coronado. It was quite cloudy, the Sun could be seen in the finder but not much at all through the main scope. Dave and Leslie stayed a while before heading off. I set up the Hydrogen Alpha filter on the ED80 in the small dome and around 14:00 (I think, maybe earlier) there was a prolonged clear patch in the clouds and Mercury could be seen crossing the face of the Sun in all of it's glory. I went to find Peter who came to have a look, Rhys returned after popping out for a while and had a look too, I'm not sure that they had much luck focusing though for their eyes. After that I decided to put a camera on the ED80, however the subsequent clear patches were not long enough to focus it sufficiently and set the correct exposure settings. During my camera setup Peter managed to train the ETX on the Sun and both he and Rhys were able to observe Mercury too. As is usually the case the skies in other directions away from the target where quite clear. A shame not to get any images during it's brief appearence, but a worthwhile experience shared with friends nonetheless.


Friday 8/11/19

Friday night. Feel free to use it as required if you add it to the blog.

After looking in on Rhys, Rachael & Jonny as they shut down the big
dome, I went to see and speak to Peter in the small dome. He was
observing the Moon with some prep work for his talk on Tuesday. We
discussed observing the "Pup" companion star to Sirius. Peter said that
he would think that Rigel and its companion star would be a similar
proposition and a dry run for Sirius. I took this on-board and would use
this later in my session.

I began observing Double Stars at 11:30pm in earnest. The temperature
began dropping rapidly. As it was due east, I located Lambda Orionis, a
close double, and took measures in Position Angle (PA) and Separation
(SEP) with the 12mm Astrometric Reticle giving a magnification of 592x.
Then onto Rigel.

With just a 26mm lens in the 14" sct yielding a magnification of 137x,
the 6th magnitude companion is easily split with a wide gap between the
primary and secondary stars. Measuring the PA & SEP, I found that the
SEP agrees with the official published measure of 9 arc secs, this looks
good for Sirius' companion star as the official separation is 11 arc
secs between the two stars, but Sirius is much, much brighter. While I
waited for Sirius to get to the highest point in the sky, I observed the
components of Omicron Eridanus.

This is a show-piece triple star system with the B & C stars being a
White Dwarf and Red Dwarf respectively. This would make a fantastic
image to photograph. Looking at it with again a 26mm lens and 20mm lens,
the yellow primary star contrasts wonderfully the two faint dwarfs. The
White dwarf is mag 9 and the Red Dwarf is mag 11 against the mag 4 for
Omicron itself. Taking measures in PA & SEP of the primary and both
dwarf stars with my 12mm astrometric reticle, I find that my results
agree with the Official published measures.

At 03:05am I steered the scope to Sirius. The star is over-powering in
the eyepiece even at 137x. The diffraction spikes spread-out in every
direction. Upping the magnification with a 20mm lens at 177x, again the
blazing star is very very bright. I spent over an hour searching for the
companion star with no luck. I did see what I thought was a spec but I
couldn't be sure. The companion at magnitude 8 is positioned at 70
degrees in PA, which is almost due east from north as seen through the
eyepiece. Will keep looking during the winter months.

Mizar AB was the next Double to be measured and duly completed.

At 6am I finished with an observation and measures of Gamma Leo. As the
sky turned from black to dark blue, I completed my measures of this
close double. I must say that these two golden yellow stars look
marvellous against a blue sky!

Fantastic night of observing, very cold but I had a few breaks for tea
and biscuits. I found that the padlock to the dome door had frozen so
needed my cigarette-lighter to unfreeze it. The car was frozen solid and
required several minutes of the engine running with heaters on full
blast before leaving at 7:30am. So home to bed!



Friday 8/11/19

On a clear night after the floods I opened the observatory at 7.00p.m.Shortly after I was joined by the newly weds Johnny and Rachael who arrived via some detours.We looked at M31,M13,M92 Albireo,M45 and the Moon.We tried our hand at astrophotography using their DSLR s attached to the ODK for shots at the Moon and the Tak. to image M45.Unguided, the tracking was not so good,but it was a worthwhile exercise in becoming familiar with the equipment.Later we were joined by Peter and John.The couple and I left soon after 9.00 p.m.leaving the others to wait for a patch of cloud to clear.

Sunday 3/11/2019

18 members of the 49th Doncaster Brownies were visiting, I gave the presentation after the star gazing as we were lucky to have some clear patches towards the Moon and Saturn, we could even see Titan (not Triton as we erroneously told them) as well through the ODK (Rhys) and the LX200 (Peter). The girls seemed impressed and asked many good questions.


Sunday 27/10/2019

I opened up around 19:00 and it was clear through to 02:30 when I left, just a thin wispy band across Orion by that time, I would have stayed longer if possible.


Friday 18/10/2019

I gave the presentation to 22 Bassetlaw District Cubs starting at 8pm. At 7:50pm following some rain there was a clear patch of sky so Rhys, Rachael and Jonny took a group into the big dome however it clouded over fairly quickly. I gave the presentation, the group were very well behaved, attentive and I was asked many very good questions.

Rhys had to leave before the end, however upon finishing the presentation it became quite clear so Rachael and Jonny set up the big dome again and we took all of the children out in groups to observe first some double stars and then the Moon which had not long since risen and was clear of cloud. The children and leaders were very impressed. Rachael and Jonny did a great job and it was nice that the Cubs got to use the equipment given what a poor forecast there had been.


Wednesday 16.10.19

I opened the observatory at 7.00pm and was joined by John at 9.30pm.The sky was clear but with a bright moon.There were security lights inaccessible in a fenced region protecting one of the out buildings.As an exercise I imaged Saturn and the Moon to familiarise myself with the appropriate extensions while John continued his work on double stars.I left at 11.30pm.John a few hours later.

Saturday 12.10.19

  • 19 members of the 24th Scout group from Rotherham were at Austerfield under cloudy skies.Rachael and I showed them the workings of large dome before they settled to Peter's presentation.I found them to be polite and interested despite the poor conditions.
  • Rhys

Wednesday 9.10.19

Peter gave the talk to the 23 members of the 68th Hatfield Cubs/Brownies and I demonstrated the large dome by showing them and some of their guardians the Moon through the ODK, there being nothing much else to see through the clouds.Johnny and Rachael were also in attendance.We were able to close about 8.00p.m.

Wednesday 2/10/2019

I opened up the large dome around 19:30 and was joined by Rachael and Jonny around 20:00 and then John around 22:30. The forecasts were way off, a lot of cloud early on which did clear by around 22:00 or so and then pleasantly it remained clear until 05:30 when John and I closed up. It had not being forecast to be clear that long, so fortune goes both ways. There was high cloud to the south west that encroached but did not hinder mine or John's targets.

I had a multitude of technical issues (it was one of those nights), mainly PHD2 not wanting to calibrate near the celestial equator, but bizarrely it would calibrate nearish the zenith (IC 1795 which was my target) which is not usually advised. Guiding from then was good and the other technical maladies that I had were irritating but not imaging run ending. Jonny also had problems with PHD2 calibration, although I managed to assist and get it to work for him by applying knowledge gained 30 mins earlier trying to troubleshoot my own setup.

So all in all for me at least I ended up with a lot more data than I had hoped for, although IC 1795 will require significantly more...


Friday 20/9/19

John and I opened the domes 8.30 pm.We were later joined by Dave and his brother Ken who was visiting from Canada.Clear skies enabled me to demonstrate a variety of targets with the O.D.K.and this was much appreciated.In the meantime Johnny and Rachel set up their kit and were imaging M31.John continued his work on double stars in the small dome.I left shortly after midnight ,Rachel and Johnny at 1.30 am,John at 3.15 am,.leaving a troubled Geraldine.Peter turned up 4.00 am.hoping to image the moon,I hope successfully.

Friday 13.09.19

I opened the observatory at 8.30pm and was joined by John 9.00pm.In the light of the Harvest Moon we were able to see Saturn,Uranus and later Neptune,M31,M57,M13,NGC 451,884,869, the usual favourites.However, the sky was too bright for many D.S.O.s.John worked on the Double Double ,Epsilon Lyra with camera and graduated eyepiece in the small dome.I left him to continue his investigations just after midnight.

Sunday 1/9/2019

I was joined by John, Rachael and Jonny for a few hours between 21:00 and 00:00. We enjoyed clear skies for around 90 minutes before cloud started to roll in, luckily for me the area that I was imaging was the clearest part of the sky for the longest, which made a nice change to usual. By around 23:30 the cloud was overwhelming and we packed everything away.


Saturday 31/8/2019

I opened up just before 21:00 and was soon joined by Peter and then Rachael and Jonny and then a little bit after that John.

I gathered more data from the Iris Nebula, Rachael and Jonny tried out their new guide camera which worked very well with their setup, Peter imaged Saturn and John continued his double star equipment calibration work. It was the clearest conditions out of the three recent nights although high cloud slowly approached from the South which put a stop to imaging not long after midnight. We all left around 01:20.

It was nice to have several members there all working on their own respective projects.


Monday 26/8/2019

Another clear night, I was joined by Rachael, Jonny and John, we had very good imaging runs and John was working with Geraldine calibrating equipment for his double star observations. There was a bit of haze in the sky but nothing too serious.


Sunday 25/8/2019

I opened up around 20:50 having researched what the issue could be with filter offsets, it was backlash in the focuser, a few settings in the software sorted this. So I re-ran the autofocus runs to determine offsets. I imaged the Iris Nebula and the offsets seem to have worked, I'm still not convinced that my guiding is optimal so that still requires experimentation.

Peter had done a great job tidying up around the battery and joined me around 21:00, Rachael and Jonny also arrived not long after with their Skywatcher gear.

We had a surprise visit from Mark Thompson DSc who co-presented Stargazing Live among many other TV shows, he was travelling back to Norfolk from Edinburgh. Rachael had been in contact with him via Twitter. He arrived around 02:50 and stayed until around 04:20, he was impressed with our setup and it was great to chat to him and he gladly shared his wealth of experience. I closed up around 04:50 and was treated to beautiful purple twilight on the way home.


Monday 19/8/2019

I opened up at 21:30 and was joined by Jonny and Rachel who brought their new Skywatcher gear with them which they set up to image multiple targets. Peter also joined us as I had difficulty with the power to the mount, we used the back up battery and will return in daylight sometime to figure out what the problem is with the large battery. Peter also encountered problems with Geraldine, however he has ideas on how to fix her.
The purpose of my visit was to determine the focal offsets for my filters on the motor focuser attached to the Tak. I also framed a few targets for future imaging sessions so they can be quickly acquired with plate solving. The skies were mostly clear with the odd bit of cloud, the Moon was prominent however at ~82%. We left around 3:30am.


Thursday 11.7.19

Paul,John,Jonathan,Dave and I spent the morning scrubbing the grime off the domes while Elaine cleaned the interiors,all done and dusted in about two hours.Thank you to those involved.

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.