Active Region 2738 rotates onto Sun’s disk

A new active region has moved onto the Sun’s disk.
However, it may not be a completely new sunspot as this seems to be the old active region AR 3736, which was very active with flares a couple of weeks ago, before it rotated behind the Sun’s disk.
See my Blog entry for the images and animation I took of it on the 24th of March:
This active region seems to have lasted and continued to develop while it was behind the Sun, until it has now re-emerged from behind the Sun’s disk and been assigned a new AR number 2738.
Here are my images of the active region in white light (left) and Hydrogen Alpha.

Asteroid Pallas Passes Eta Boötis

Asteroid 2 Pallas reaches opposition this month.

The brightest Pallas reaches is magnitude +7.9, so it is well below naked eye visibility.
It will require binoculars or a telescope to view it as a star-like point moving through the southern part of Boötes, the Herdsman.

Pallas has an orbital period of 4.62 years and lies almost 3 astronomical units from The Sun.

On the 11th of April, at around 01:00 BST Pallas will be very close, approximately 4 arc minutes northeast, of the bright naked eye +2.7 magnitude star, Muphrid (Eta Boötis).
This will make the asteroid much easier to find.

The map below shows the path of the asteroid for the rest of April.

Happy hunting.


Mars moves between The Hyades & Pleiades

Throughout the first week of April, Mars moves between The Hyades and The Pleiades Star Clusters in Taurus.

I took the images below on the evening of the 31st of March.

The map below shows the path of Mars as it moves through Taurus and between the two clusters.

Telescopically, Red Planet, showing a slightly gibbous phase, poses a real challenge as its apparent disk size is extremely small at only 4.6 arc seconds.

Enjoy the view with the naked eye or binoculars.

St Neots Astronomy Association – Monday 1st April

Tonight, Monday the 1st of April, I will be visiting St Neots Astronomy Association.

I will be presenting Out Of The Darkness: Pluto, New Horizons & Ultima Thule.

The talk takes you through the history of Pluto, from it’s discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, right up to the results of the amazing Hew Horizon’s mission. This amazing probe finally revealed Pluto and its Moons in fantastic detail as it shot past in July 2015.

New Horizons first extended mission allowed it to shoot past another Kuiper Belt object, 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule by the mission team, on New Years day 2019. All the data and images transmitted slowly across over 4 billion miles will take 20 months to be returned to Earth.

As this data is being returned this presentation is constantly being updated to include new images and findings. From the latest results released the end of last week, it looks like they are having to  re-write the text books entirely re-think how Kuiper Belt objects like Ultima Thule are formed way out in the solar system.

St Neots Astronomy Association meet at:
Little Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.
Which is just off the A1, north of St Neots.

Meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Sky Diary for April 2019

My free monthly sky diary for April 2019 showing the events of the night sky visible from the UK is now available in a printable pdf version for download.
Click here, or on the image below to download the pdf.

I also have the sky diary to share available on Google calendars.
Click here to go to my Google calendar.

More events will be added to the live Google calendar as more information becomes available.

Don’t forget to watch the results and images coming back from New Horizons as it whizzed past the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule on New Years Day.

Click on the link below for more details:

Active Region 2736 near solar limb.

On the 24th of March it was a clear sunny day. With clouds forecast to come over from midday, I decided to get out and do some solar imaging with the Quark.
Active region 2736 was close to the Sun’s limb. This set off a powerful flare a few days ago, and I know from experience that an active spot on the limb can show some incredible detail and activity.

For those interested, here’s the setup I use:
120mm Evostar refractor. It’s not the best for chromatic aberration, but working in narrow band the Hydrogen Alpha red wavelengths, this does not effect the image.
Lunt Herschel Wedge. For white light imaging.
Baader Solar Continuum Filter. To enhance spot and solar granulation detail when white light imaging.
Daystar Quark Chromosphere. I have now had this one almost two years and it is working extremely well. Click here to read my Quark, Or Not to Quark Page.
DMK41 Imaging Source camera. It is a monochrome camera. I create the orange colour afterwards in Photoshop.
A tilt adapter. To prevent Newton’s Rings when using the Quark.
An inch and a quarter focal reducer. To get a slightly wider field of view and brighter image.
Sharpcap Pro. 60 second videos captured.
AutoStakkert! Initial AVI processing.
Registax. Wavelet sharpening.
Photoshop. Further sharpening, Curves to reveal faint detail and adding colour.

The setup shown above was with the Herschel Wedge in place.

The seeing looked pretty awful as I started, but thought I’d persevere anyway.
As the Quark was coming up to temperature, I put the Herschel Wedge in to capture it in white light.

The spot looks extremely foreshortened and the surrounding bright faculae stand out pretty well against the darker edge of The Sun’s disk.

By the time I had finished taking this, the Quark had come up to temperature and was ready. So I removed the wedge and Continuum filter and set everything up for narrow band Hydrogen Alpha imaging.

One glimpse showed me that there was a lot going on around this spot. Some faint line of plasma were held suspended above the chromosphere, to one side of the spot.
As I was imaging, a strange bulge developed, which I had never seen before. Towards the end of the two hour imaging session, what looked like a surge prom was developing. At this time seeing had gone down horrendously and most of the detail in the captured AVI’s had now been lost. As the day was heating up in the sunshine, and some scudding clouds had now started to interfere, the time to finish imaging was fast approaching.

I had been taking images for over two hours, from 09:11 until 11:19. I tried to take an AVI every 2 minutes or so. It was finally time to stop imaging and then start processing all those AVI’s to produce the images for the animation. I ended up with 37 images at the end of the imaging run.

This is a single image of the active region. I then spent the best part of the whole day processing the images and getting them ready to make animation to show what was going on. At one point a strange “bulge” appeared.
The phone shot of the screen below, shows what I could see.

The resulting animation is below. I was totally blown away.
There is so much going on here.
The active region itself is bubbling away nicely, plumes of plasma being thrown out with the surge prom/s developing towards the end of the animation. The suspended plasma is seen streaking across and falling into the sunspot, following the magnetic field lines of the spot. You can also see the rotation of the Sun throughout the duration of the animation, as the active region moves closer to the limb.

I could look at this animation for hours. Totally mesmerising.

That’s why I love doing solar stuff.
You just never know what you are going to see every time you set things up.

This ius a single image of the


Cranfield Astronomical Society

On Tuesday the 19th of March I will returning to Cranfield Astronomical Society to present:

Rosetta & Philae: From Concept To Reality


My presentation includes the conclusion of this spectacular mission to Comet 67P – Churyumov-Gerasimenko, right down to its final image before it “crash” landed on the comet’s nucleus, plus some of the latest findings and images that have recently been published.

Courtesy of Dr Colin Snodgrass from the Open University, there is a chance for the audience to sniff Comet 67P.
I will be collecting opinions on what they think it smells like.

Thanks to a 3D printed model, they can also get a really good feel for what the comet looks like.

So, if you’re in the area, come along, say “Hello” and enjoy my presentation.

I’m really looking forward to catching up with this friendly group again.

Meeting starts 7:30pm.

CSA Lounge.
Building 114.
Cranfield University.

Luton Astronomical Society – Science Week Presentation.

For the second time, Luton Astronomical Society have invited me to do their British Science Week Presentation.

On Wednesday the 13th of March, I will be presenting my
Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe (Hitch-Hiking on a Ray of Light).


So let’s hope that they and all the visiting children strap themselves in and brace themselves for a journey that really is out of this world. Of course, it’s just a really fantastic excuse to show lots of beautiful images of our wonderful universe.
Unfortunately, Flat Tim won’t be attending this time!

So if you are in the area, you can book a free ticket from their Web site:

Then come along and say “Hello”.

Meeting Venue:
University of Bedfordshire,
Putteridge Bury Conference Centre,
(LU2 8LE) Map

Meeting starts at 7.30 until 9.00pm.
(Doors open 7:00pm).