Thursday, 19 March 2015

Astronomy 0 Meteorology 1 (Spring Equinox Cup, first leg)

This is a big sky week in Orkney (other locations are available), with a partial solar eclipse booked in for Friday morning and a spectacular display of the Aurora borealis as a taster on the preceding nights.

I wish... or perhaps, eyewash.

On Tuesday afternoon, the signs were not good...

That dark band below the Sun isn't Hoy, it's a fog bank.

So, come the evening, when the Lancaster University AuroraWatch UK's site was lit up like a Christmas Tree all night, the same couldn't be said for many parts of Orkney.

In fact, all I managed of a very spectacular show, was this paltry effort, looking straight up where the cloud was thinnest.

Yep, the aurora was overhead and my camera does still put that weird ripple effect onto the centre of the image.

The following morning, as we left the house early on our way to the airport, things hadn't really improved...

However, as the day wore on, it turned into something of a corker. Lots of sunshine and light winds allowing Spring cleaning to kick in: cars washed and cleaned; house windows cleaned; loads of washing dried on the line and the house well and truly aired.

Sadly, come late afternoon again, the view from the ironing board was picturesque but unpromising for the evening ahead.

Still puzzled by my Canon's ability to drop a pebble into my night shots, I dug out Our Lass's Nikon and pondered how to drive the thing. It was much more difficult than the transition from, say, right hand drive and manual, to left hand drive and automatic. Or perhaps I'm just hard of thinking? But it would be interesting to find out whether it was my tripod or myself that was the problem, rather than the camera.

Anyway, the Aurorawatch UK site was again rather exciting, so I thought it worth a go.

Now, we do suffer from a little light pollution when looking northwards. There's the airport for a start, plus a new-ish wind turbine which is fitted with a nice rosy navigation beacon.

Lovely reflection off the clouds, eh?

Yeah, clouds. Fiddlesticks! But at least there's no ripples in the centre of the image, so some progress, if only Canon-condemning progress.

So here's the best image of the evening, showing something of a green tinge between the breaks in the clouds. Yay!

But you don't want to know what the weather forecast's like for Friday morning...


Katie (Nature ID) said...

At 4:30 this morning, Andy and I drove to the west side of the Monterey Peninsula away from city lights to watch the total lunar eclipse over the Pacific Ocean. It was a subtle (but incredible!) red color and a considerably slower process than either of us anticipated. We only stayed for about an hour and left when the top fifth made the moon look like it was wearing a glowing white skull cap. We also saw a half-dozen shooting stars.

So, I remembered reading this post about 2 weeks ago, and it's funny how I incorrectly recalled it as a lunar, not a solar eclipse. I was so confused early this morning trying to figure out how you'd have a lunar eclipse in your part of the world 2 weeks ago, during a new moon period. Haha. Obviously, I hadn't read your next post with the cool method to watch a solar eclipse.


Imperfect and Tense said...

It is a bit confusing, I agree. When the sun cast the shadow of the moon on the face of the Earth, it's a solar eclipse, but when the Sun cast the shadow of the Earth on the face of the moon, it's a lunar one. It doesn't quite stack up, huh?

We haven't seen the sun today, too much low cloud and fog.

Big respect for your early start!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

It hadn't occurred to me before, so I just looked this up ( - solar and lunar eclipses (all types) tend to come in pairs roughly 2 weeks apart (but not always), which would make sense (I guess) given the moon phases. We just don't see all of them depending on where we are. Did you know that?

Mark your calendar for the next blood moon on Sept. 28, 2015 (and if I calculated it correctly for Orkney) starts ~1:11am, max ~3:47am, ends ~6:22am).

Imperfect and Tense said...

Aye, now you've said it, it kinda makes sense.

Calendar marked!

We have a moon phase calendar hanging in the kitchen, but I don't pay it too much notice. It tells me that the lunar eclipse on 28th September is at max at 02.47 for UK.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Google tells me Orkney is 1 hour ahead of UTC/GMT. Is that incorrect?

Imperfect and Tense said...

No, you're correct, the confusion is mine.

We shifted to British Summer Time (BST) last weekend and will still be an hour ahead of GMT come 28th September 2015.

Our lunar phase calendar will be referenced solely to GMT, I suspect.

Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Were you able to see Sunday's blood moon?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi Katie, the skies were cloudy, unfortunately, so I'm afaid not. Add to that the fact that I would make an absolutely rubbish astronomer on account of usually being in bed by 10pm. A few folk here did post some images on the Orkney Aurora Group Facebook page, but it wasn't the hoped-for spectacle.