Shooting the Moon

Just recently I purchased a second lens (a Tamron AF 55-200mm f4.5-5.6 Di II LD) for my Canon EOS 400D. It wasn't until yesterday that I managed to give it a proper test.

Just before bedtime I noticed it was clear and that the Moon was pretty high so I thought it would be interesting to see how large it appears when captured with the new lens attached (previous efforts amply demonstrated that — no surprises here — the Moon doesn't appear very large at 55mm). So I wandered outside, set the lens to 200m and ran off some shots hand-held.

The result isn't actually that bad. If I'm in a position to observe the lunar eclipse next month (during the week, during the early hours of the morning, typical!) it might be worth trying to get a few shots.

Of course, now, I'm wishing for a 300mm lens. ;-)


Floodlighting Petition Response

I just received an email from the UK government's ePetition system to say that there has been a response to the floodlighting petition that I mentioned back in November 2006 (wow, really that long ago?).

You can see the response over here.


Dr Brian Cox

Being a member of The Society for Popular Astronomy, and being interested in photography, it's no surprise that when I attend an SPA event I take a camera with me. I tend to publish many of the images and I've also got an agreement with the editor of Popular Astronomy (the magazine published by the SPA) which lets him use any of the images in the magazine if he thinks they're useful.

The nice thing about this is that I generally don't know which he'll use, if any, so when the magazine turns up it's always a nice surprise to find an image or two in there.

At the last SPA meeting, in October last year, we had Dr Brian Cox giving the main talk (and a cracking talk it was too). I took a handful of photographs, my favourite being this:

Dr Brian Cox #3

So you can imagine how chuffed I was when I sat down last night to read the latest edition of the magazine and found this:

Dr Brian Cox (Published)

Insert smiley face here.

Also, don't forget, the next meeting of the SPA is a week on Saturday.


Comet Holmes Still Naked Eye Object?

Last Saturday I managed to get out for my first "proper" observing session in a while. I had a pretty good night and managed to get views of Mars, M42, Saturn and M81 and M81.

But that wasn't the best part. The best part was the bit when I spotted something odd near Algol:

While stood looking at the Double Cluster with the naked eye I spotted something close by, near Algol, that appeared to be about the same size and of a similar brightness to it. Initially I was confused about what it was. I quickly grabbed my monocular and had a look and could see that it was a faint but noticeable misty patch. Given that I wasn't aware of any object in that location, and given that I couldn't find any such thing on my charts (not that I expected to — I'd have known about such an object if it were a "fixed" item in the sky), I suspected that it was comet Holmes.
Further visual checks at the time and checks with online charts for Holmes suggest that I really was seeing the comet.

This genuinely surprised me. It's been a while since I last observed it and I'd assumed that it wouldn't be visible to the naked eye any more, that it might even have faded beyond a point where I'd be able to observe it with any of my equipment.

Anyone else out there still seeing it this way?

Also, totally aside from the above, I also decided to try something a little different (for me) in terms of astrophotography (not that I do much astrophotography). I took along my Lomo Lubitel 166B, loaded with Ilford FP+ 125, and during the observing session had it pointing at various parts of the sky for around ½ hour at a time. I've no idea what, if anything, I'm going to get out of it, but I needed to use up some frames on the film and the chance to do some astrophotography with a TLR, on black and white medium-format form, was too good to pass up.

Heck, if it turns out reasonably well I might give it a go with colour next time. Might even mount the 166B on the back of the 130M and use its drive to go for some non-trailed shots.