Wolf Moon – Supermoon over Cornwall

 

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Men-an-Tol – Supermoon

 

Yesterday the evening had a break in the clouds from the run of stormy weather we have been having in West Cornwall. This gave me the opportunity to get out and try and image the supermoon over an ancient monument. The intention was to image the supermoon at a stone circle so the picture can be used for my forthcoming book on archaeoastronomy and the stone circles in West Cornwall. I knew that Boskednan would give a great horizon for the supermoon to rise above so that became my destination of choice. I knew the moor would be muddy, so I decided to park closer to Men-an-Tol rather than walk in from Ding Dong mine. Although this was a longer walk it would mean that I could also image Men-an-Tol if needed. Wow, I hadn’t expected the whole Moor to be a quagmire – it was virtually impassable in places and perhaps the wettest I had ever seen it.

 

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Boskednan

 

The picture of Boskednan shows how wet the ground is. The Sun is setting in among the cloud – low in the Southwest. This is near to the position that the sun would set at the winter solstice, over the clearly placed Boswens Menhir.  At Boskednan it was obvious that the cloud to the east of the site was pretty thick but above this bank of cloud, there were clear skies forming. As Men-an-Tol is down the hill from Boskednan I decided that this lower altitude may give the sky clearance from the cloud bank. Setting off back down the hill my walking boots decided to give up with the sole coming away from the boot at the toe -(RIP boots you have served me well – travelling mile upon mile over this landscape!!). So, making a decidedly flapping noise in the wet I gingerly set about getting down the hill to Men-an-Tol. By the time I reached this lower circle the Sun had set and the Moon had begun to rise. The Moon closest to the winter solstice sunset rises and sets in its most northerly position it also rises to its highest altitude. As a supermoon (the Moon is at one of its closest position to Earth) it makes it one of the most impressive celestial sites you can see.  Unfortunately, the cloud didn’t play ball and I only managed to get glimpses of the Moon rising there is a second image below.

 

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Men-an-Tol – Supermoon

 

Local Astronomy History Leaflets

Bright Stars Dark Skies - Leaflet
Self guided tours for John Couch Adams and The Hurlers in Cornwall

Newly released and in Cornwall you will find two self guided tours. The first looks at local astronomy hero John Couch Adams and takes you on a self guided trip around his home area based in Laneast and Launceston. There is lots of information about the man and his achievements and sites to be seen along the way.

The second leaflet is a tour of the Hurlers. Once again self guided, it takes you around the immediate sites. It looks at the recent archaeoastronomy developments for the sites.

These leaflets have been produced as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project by Bright Stars Dark Skies. Grab one while they last!!

Boskednan circle and Carn Galver

 

Boskednan circle is located on a ridge near New Mill north of Penzance. Here is an image looking towards Carn Galver a local easily recognisable outcrop. The summer solstice sunset imaged falls to the south of this outcrop onto an area known as watch croft. But what is interesting is that a Lunar Major Northern setting point would be directly on the Carn itself, as it measures 318 degrees. Could this have been built as a lunar observatory? rather than a solar one?IMG_5733

Other circles in the area have links to the lunar cycle, The Merry Maidens also has a local outcrop in the lunar major setting position and Boscawen-un has lunar links with its quartz stone and positioning of a menhir (standing stone) in the lunar northern rising position. All these discoveries and much more are being compiled and will be released in a book dedicated to wonderful circles found here in West Penwith, within the new year.  I will keep you all posted.

Rare pair of Astronomy themed tokens

Tokens were issued in England from 1648. They were used to pay for goods and services – a replacement to coin. This was partly due to the country having no monarchy, Charles I having lost his head, leading to a republic headed up by Oliver Cromwell. How could England have coins when there was no monarchy to put on them? It was also due to the lack of coin available for people to use, leading them to make their own. The practice was outlawed in 1772.

A huge range of tokens were made but I know of only two with an astronomy link. One is in the British Museum  Issued in 1666 by Richard Berry it shows 3 men with astronomical instruments. Possibly depicting a pub called The Astronomers from the dockside in London.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1242148&partId=1&searchText=Astronomy&page=1

The other was issued in Maidstone Kent by Thomas Swinoke and is in the image below. It shows 3 men one with a globe and 2 with scientific instruments, possibly telescopes. It is possible that it depicts the pub the Worlds End.


More information can be found on 17th-century tokens here http://www.thecoppercorner.com/history/17thC_hist.html

A 6 tailed comet

On the 1st March 1744 comet C/1743 X1 reached perihelion.  Although only the 6th brightest recorded comet.  It will be remembered for its striking 6 tails which developed.  It reached a blazing apparent magnitude of -7 and was visible during daylight, after it passed by the sun a relatively close 0.2 AU.  It has been suggested that the multiple tails occurred due the at least 3 active nucleus, maybe as the comet tore itself apart during perihelion.

It was spotted by a young Charles Messier on whom it had a great effect and lead him down the road of becoming an astronomer.

Comets as bright as these are rare events.  A similar but more recent example was comet Mcnaught or the great comet of 2007 as it became known.

DeCheseauxklinkenberg