Amazing – 2 clear nights in a row.

Armed with my camera and tripod I headed up the hill again last night.  My idea was to have a go at getting a star trail photo.  I knew I had about an hour to get the shots in before the Moon started to rise and.  So starting before full astronomical darkness I set up my camera and started to take the shots.  I decided that I would face north so the stars would rotate around Polaris.  I set my camera at 18mm to a ISO of 1600 and a F 5.6.  I took shots for 1 minute each.  Tbh its all a great learning curve.  Next time I will wait until the sky is properly dark.  As the first few pictures came out a bit on the bright side.  My next target was the Milky way.  I probably should have had a tracking mount for this one as the stars are starting to trail even with a shot of just 40 seconds.  Finally I got in a quick shot of Orion before the Moon rose and I headed home.


Camera outing

Last night I managed to get out with my camera.  I live in a fairly rural location, even so with the clouds rolling in and the lights from a nearby town, conditions weren’t ideal. Then the full moon began to rise – beautiful but adding to the overall light pollution.  So I called it quits.  Here are the results

Smeaton the first amateur astronomer?

To be sold

Two excellent telescopes, belonging to the observatories of the late Mr Smeaton at Austhorpe, near Leeds, one of them an equatorial and the other a Transit Instrument.
A purchaser may have the opportunity of seeing the manner in which the telescopes are fixed and the constructions to the observatories to which they belong and be furnished with any part of the materials if required, towards refixing them in the same manner. Also two remarkably good time pieces, belonging to the said observatories.
Also a small fire engine with a ten inch cylinder calculated for supplying any gentleman’s house with water.

The telescopes and time pieces will be removed to London, if not disposed of by the first of April.

This advert was placed in the Leeds Intelligencer Monday 25th Feb 1793.

It was while searching through old papers looking for references to telescopes I came across this advert placed in 1793.  Looking into this further I found a story of a man whom was one of the first amateur astronomers.  This advert was selling on his death a large observatory and its equipment which had been placed in his garden at Austhorpe near Leeds in Yorkshire.

The man’s name was John Smeaton.  And if that is a recognisable name that is because this man was a celebrated 18th century civil engineer.  He is known as the father of civil engineering and even possibly even coined the name engineer.  A Yorkshire man whom lived from 1724 – 1792.   A man whom moved in intellectual and scientific circles he was a member of the Lunar society.

During his day job he built the iconic Eddystone lighthouse,  (now seen on the Plymouth Hoe) numerous canals and the harbour walls at ports such as Charlestown and St Ives. But he also had a lifelong passion for astronomy.  A passion which would see him bring his engineering skills to design observatories such as the one which still exists in York, with a conical designed roof.  He also designed wedges for telescopes.  When wanting to view Mercury with better accuracy he improved micrometers with his engineering skills.  His observations of Mercury proved him to be a competent astronomer and the paper was read and published by the Royal Society.  In modern terms he would be considered an amateur – all be it a dedicated one.

Its amazing how one small advert can lead to the discovery of a man’s otherwise forgotten passion for astronomy.

To be continued….



Best UK Beaches ?

With another rainy dark winters day here in Cornwall – its time to look forward to the summer and visiting the beach.  I have read with amusement that trip advisor has released a list of the best beaches to visit in the country.  As wonderful as it is to see such beautiful beaches promoted, especially the four beaches here in Cornwall.  Of the 779 beaches which surround our Island is does make me wonder about how the 10 beaches come top of lists like this.

Looking through the list it quickly become apparent that all the beaches are in high use during the summer months.  Notably absent are beaches from the more remote coastlines of Scotland, Northern Island, Wales and most of the Channel Islands.  So it seems that the top 10 is comprised due to the shear number of visitors which go and sit on these beaches and then go and vote for them on trip advisor

I certainly know that trip advisor’s idea of a best beach would not be mine.   As lovely as these beaches are there are much better hide away and secret coves to be discovered out there.  Cornwall alone has about 300 beaches so this year when visiting please don’t follow the crowd and try somewhere new.

If you do want to check out the top 10 here’s the link

Best UK beaches by trip advisor.


Perranuthnoe beach Sept 2015