Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Fame at last!

I've not posted for a while for various reasons but I had to say something about this photo of mine which was used on prime time BBC AutumnWatch tonight. This is the second time I've had a photo shown on the BBC's SpringWatch series and so I'm very slowly building up a portfolio!

I was sitting there watching AutumnWatch and thinking that this was a really good explanation of our current weather patterns in relation to the Jet Stream, when up popped this photo of mine! It was being used to show how the recent weather has brought rare American visitors to the UK.

Here's the three minute segment from BBC AutumnWatch which featured my Red-eyed Vireo photo. I thought that weatherman Nick Miller's explanation of how the current weather patterns being controlled by the Jet Stream are suppressing migrant birds from the east whist bringing vagrants from the west was very good.

Well, I didn't see that coming!

And here's my original photo:

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Day 7 - Saltholme RSPB

No sign of the American Golden Plover in amongst a few thousand Golden Plovers!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019


Here's my current YATL post - Yet Another To-do List!
  • Leigh Astro Society in the Forest of Bowland 1/10/19
  • Marshside RSPB 16/9/19
  • American Golden Plover - Lunt Meadows 16/9/19
  • Belmont and Rivington Stars - 13/9/19
  • Eastern Black-eared Wheatear - Fluke Hall, Pilling 10/9/19
  • Marshside RSPB 10/9/19
  • L.O.S. at Blacktoft Sands RSPB - 8/9/19
  • Tophill Low NR - 13/8/19 - still needs text
  • Lake District and Leighton Moss - 12/8/19 - still needs text
  • Little Bustard and Adel Dam 8/9/19 - partially done
  • Little Owls at Holcombe and Burrs CP 6/8/19 - still needs text
  • Blacktoft Sands RSPB 30/7/19
  • Dunham Park 29/7/19 - still needs text
  • Puffin Cruises Coquet Island Boat Trip - 19/7/19 - partially done
  • Billy Shiels Farne Islands Boat and Landing Trip 2019 - 18/7/19
  • Bempton Cliffs RSPB - 15/7/19 - partially done

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Waxing Gibbous Moon - 7-8/10/19

The waxing gibbous moon as seen from my front garden in Tyldesley. Waxing means that it's getting bigger. Gibbous refers to the shape, which is less than the full circle of a full moon, but larger than the semicircle shape of the moon at third quarter.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Leigh Astro Society

On Tuesday 1st October 2019, three friends from the Leigh Ornithological Society (L.O.S.) went out into the depths of the Forest of Bowland in search of Dark Skies and Andromeda. It was on that memorable evening that Leigh Astro Society (L.A.S.) was born. A week later, the Society membership had doubled to six, with several notable experts in the field of astronomy, auroras and astrophotography. This is a record of that very first night.

I knew from the Manchester Birding Forum thread entitled 'Jupiter and its Moons' that Paul Richardson had an interest in astronomy and when George Pike told me that he had always wanted to see Andromeda I saw an opportunity for encouraging Paul to get his telescopes out of the back of the wardrobe and blow off the dust for a trip out with me tagging along as well.  After all, I had been developing my night sky photography skills recently too.

We discussed various locations but the Forest of Bowland always seemed to be the best chance of finding some Dark Skies within a reasonable driving distance.   For viewing of night sky objects,  clear skies and a moonless night, or as close as possible is needed. We had to wait for quite a while before the conditions were right.

Tuesday 1st October proved to be the night and we set off in the dark at 7:30pm with pretty cloudy skies, trusting that the Met Office app forecasting clear skies would prove to be correct. Fortunately, for once, it did. We headed up the M61 motorway and then across on the A59 to Clitheroe and up to Waddington where we parked in small lay-by along the B6478 Slaidburn Road. It was here that I took the 'Road to Waddington' photo (shown above and below) that we're currently using as a cover photo on out Leigh Astro Society Facebook group here:

I quite like this photo but I do hope to revisit the lay-by and take a better shot with the full arc of the road showing in it.  It was quite amazing how much traffic there was late at night on this B road.

Our first target was actually Saturn using Paul's big Celestron 8" reflector telescope. Unfortunately it was very low in the sky and in the same direction as the light pollution from Preston, but we could make out the tell-tale oval shape of the rings quite easily. No photographs though as it was too small and distant for my camera lenses.

Next was Andromeda and Paul used a smaller telescope to look at this distant galaxy as he was little unhappy with the performance of his large telescope, saying that it might need servicing. It was great to have my first ever view of our nearest galaxy, at only 2537 million light years away and which Paul said he could even see with his naked eye! Well, having spent a lifetime staring into cathode ray tubes and more recently LED flat screen monitors, I couldn't see it without using first binoculars and then Paul's telescope.  However, it was actually George's Swarovski bird spotting scope that gave us the best views on this particular occasion for some reason.  I managed to grab some poor but just about recognisable shots shown above and below.

After that we spent some time looking at the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters with Aldebaran at their feet as well as a few other constellations such as the easily recognisable Ursa Major (the Big Dipper or Plough), the 'W' shape of Cassiopeia and the square shape which forms the main part Pegasus. Oh, and the Northern Cross too.

Thanks must go to Paul for his knowledge of astronomy and the night sky without whom George and I would never have known where to look for and see Andromeda, Saturn and many other features. In fact we would have been almost totally in the dark (hehe!).

Son this evening Paul was duly elected Chairman of the newly formed Leigh Astrophenomical Society, which was later renamed to Astronomolgical and finally just Astro - being from the Leigh Ornithological Society we all know how important it is to keep your Society's name short and sweet!

We finished off this excellent evening with some arty-farty light painting by George ....

.... whilst Paul did his best 'Beast of Bowland' impression - you wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night!