Almost a Catalina disastor.


calalina (2)

Here in Cornwall we are often rainy and even more cloudy.  So observational astronomy is a bit of a waiting game.  Last night a gap in the cloud didn’t materialise until in the early hours, so I went to bed and set the alarm for early o’clock.   My plan was to photograph Catalina.  It was certainly cold outside for here.  There was the first frost I had seen in two winters on the ground.  But the sky was crystal clear.  Setting up the scope I realised Catalina was going to be near the zenith, making it harder to look through the scope as I would be bending down.  Scope aligned I sclew to the plough and Catalina’s location and guess what I couldn’t find it.  I looked and looked and catalina was certainly playing a hiding game with me.  Feeling decidedly out of practice and a little foolish I went inside to warm up and look for the gps locations of the comet.  Back out in the cold with information to hand I started aligning the scope again and that is when the owl swooped.  I felt a swoosh near my head and glancing up this huge wingspan of a owl had nearly knocked my hat flying off my head.

I had heard the tawny owls distinctive hoot in the trees behind our house all night but that is nothing unusual.   I had never seen one of the birds up close and personal before.  I know this was stupid but I was now feeling decidedly spooked.  I don’t know if it had been trying to land on me or just dive-bombing me but now I certainly must have looked a sight crouching even lower looking every few seconds over my shoulder.


Image credit Renaud Visage/Getty Images

Anyhow I managed to get a quick one shot long exposure of Catalina –  not my best shot ever but least I got one.  I then packed away my scope and watched the ISS make its pass just after 6am.  As dawn was upon us there was a lovely line of planets rising from the south east Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Mars.  Jupiter had dropped behind the tree line for me.  But 4 was great to see anyhow.

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