Skåne

Solar Eclipse 2015

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It has been an awfully long time since I had the chance, the energy and the time to enjoy my hobby. The majority of my time I was occupied with my career and my relationship to Melissa. My astronomy friends and I have felt the same the last few months, when it comes to local weather. It makes you feel giving up sometimes and when you loose interest, you get some beautiful days that are ideal and perfect for astrophotography, but you lack the interest because by the time you’ve lost it entirely or you’re busy with other things.

Recently we had nothern lights observations in south sweden after the big geomagnetic storm caused by the solar mass ejection previously. Some of my astronomy club friends succeeded going out to take a few photos of the auroras. Shortly after we had the solar eclipse that appeared in its totality at Svalbard up in nothern Scandinavia (north of Norway and Sweden). We were less fortunate here at Malmö where I live and work. First of all we had heavy clouds being pulled over us and secondly we had to enjoy the spectacle with just a partial eclipse at around 80% coverage.

Despite these setbacks I went out with my friend Arne and took a few images. If you are the lucky owner of a telescope you can still gather enough light to make a pretty decent observation. So we decided to settle outside the parking at my work and was able to show the eclipse to some of my colleagues.

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Below I’m adding a few links in regards to solar eclipse facts and also how it looked like from Svalbard as well.

Niklas Henricson

Venus Transit 2012

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Planning on the Venus transit was a major disappointment when we weren’t sure if it was either or a go or not.
The initial weather forecasts and satellite images showed increasingly chances of precipitation and thick coverage of clouds.
Thus, we didn’t have any expectations and didn’t get overly overexcited just yet. We simply didn’t hope in anything at all.

Venus Transit by Niklas Henricson
Venus Transit by Niklas Henricson

Arne and Rolf dropped by my house and worked together mounting new solar filters to our telescopes. We used Müllar-filter, which blocks visual light to a very high extend. Once we left my place around 3:30 AM we had a 1½ hour by car to northern part of Skåne where we would meet the rest of the Aquila Astronomy club members. Once we arrived approximately at 5:00 AM, the sun raised since long time ago and the transit was already on-going. We rushed quickly out of the car, equipped with just with my Megrez 72, my Canon EOS 50D DSLR camera and an ordinary tripod. Everything was installed quickly away from the crowd that was looking fascinated by the spectacle through their own telescopes.

There was no rain and the sun was heating our faces. It was truly beautiful with just a few small clouds positioned very low along the horizon but yet close by the sunrise, but for the most part, it was a clear light blue sky with a barely noticeable light breeze from the sea.

As I looked through my ocular I was amazed to see Venus devotedly followed her orbit around of our beautiful star. I was captured by an amazing and indescribable feeling of fascination and excitement. You could really sense the slow motion of the planet, moving quietly across the sun disc like a faithful partner around it’s bright majestic star.

This was one of my best observations so far. I need to top that by observing a total solar eclipse in the future!

The sun today

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Sunspots – Visible Light Filter

As we finally enter September month followed by darker and still warm nights, I decided to assemble my telescope during a semi-cloudy day and take a few shots of the sun. To my surprise the surface was covered with several sunspots, more than it has been in a long time.

The image to the left was taken with my Canon EOS 50D at ISO600, shutter speed 1/8000 and a temperature balance 7000K. The sunspots visible here are 1281, 1282, 1283, 1277 and 1279.

The 17th of September we will have our annual celebration of “Kulturnatten” (culture night), which means many institutions at Lund’s university will have open house from morning to night. The physics and astronomy department will offer laser shows, barbecue,  exhibitions of light and other experiments, star gazing through telescopes and much more. Everyone is welcome to visit us, regardless of age and of course both food and drink and everything else is for free!

 

More information about the cultural night in Lund, can be found here:

Jävan Observatory – Sweden

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Jävan observatory
Jävan observatory

During 1930:ies there were countless of meetings at the university of Lund regarding the problems in lacking an observatory. The old observatory at the park of Lund was outdated, old and fell victim of the growing city and therefore light polution.

It stood clear that astronomers were in serious need of a new observatory to perform their observations and provide students with a better place. They started investigating local areas outside the suburbs of Lund during 1940 and finally found a hill located near the village of Genarp. The new place was decided to be hosting the new observatory and it was not that far away from the university (30 minutes by car), but far enough to avoid light polution at night time. It wasn’t until September 1965 the university received the telescope mirror and in October 1966 the observatory was finally operating for the first time.

During planing it was decided that the observatory would have two domes, one at west and one east, both having the ability to look south at meridian. The main instrument was a Nasmyth-Cassegrain telescope provided with a spectrograph table, cooling system. The entire system’s weight was estimated to be 3500 kilograms. The main mirror is parabolic and 61 cm in diameter and weights around 98 kilograms. The hyperbolic secondary mirror is 16 cm in diameter and was made of Duran glass with aluminmum surface.

The main goal of the observatory was to study the magnitude of thousents of stars on one single shot through photoelectric photometry. 1973 the telescope had a spectrographer to enable studies in spectrum for individual stars.

As the decades passed by, the cities around Genarp (including Genarp village itself) grew larger. A new era in astronomy started enabling astronomers to either travel out of country to remote locations, or connect to an observatory across the world through internet. Jävan observatory was hard to compete to the new technology and the evergrowing cities around light poluting the skies.

This observatory stopped beeing operable at the late 90:ties. Regardless, for an amateur astronomer the hill location is perfect still for observations. The forest around the hill has grown wild and large pinetrees are covering the low horizon and most of the light polution is hidden behind the forest trees.

A friend of mine and myself went there one night (8th of May 2011) and began observing the night sky together. It was a beautiful night sky full of stars. We tried taking a few pictures on globular clusters towards south, but that night was windy causing pollen to raise in the air and therefore it was far from ideal in regards to astrophotography.

The Sun through H-alpha

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Less then 48 hours left before the partial solar eclipse that occurs during the tuesday morning 2011-01-04. I was testing my equipment and saw that there were a few sunspots. The image is photographed with a Canon EOS 50D at ISO 800 through a Lunt LS60THa H-alpha telescope.

The news have already been requesting curiously on details about the partial solar eclipse on tuesday. Regardless the weather conditions we will be there taking care of our guests and giving interviews. If the weather allow us to observe anything I promise to get back here with some photos.

More newspapers publishing about the solar eclipse on tuesday:

Summer projects and the 472 Roma ockultation

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During June-July at Tycho Brahe observatory we were preparing for a large project that would involve the cooperation between many amateur astronomers from different locations in Sweden. The Swedish assosiation for amateur astronomers (SAAF: Svenska Amatörastronomiska Föreningen) helped us to get in touch with other amateur astronomers across the country. Together with my collegue Arne L Ohlsson we started to put hard work on planning, coordinating meetings, assembling nessesary instrumentation and dealing with time pressure.

The ockultation is all about a large rock out in space, or more commonly called an asteroid named 472 Roma passing infront of the delta star (Yed Prior) in the constellation of Ophiucus, causing this large red giant star to dissappear for a around 5 seconds. This asteroidal passage was meant to be easily observed from our location, but negative observations outside the occultation shadow would provide a lot of information regarding the star itself.

It has been mistaken for a long time that the delta star in Ophiucus would be a double and for the first time an asteroid would occult this star and reveal it’s secrets for us. Unfortunately just before the occultation occurred, heavy clouds surounded our area. That was our worse case scenario that just took place, leaving us with unanswered questions.

In the morning we heard that the German and Belgian astronomers were more lucky then us and that many positive reports started to fall in!

Radioastronomy

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For almost a week ago we received our radio telescope which was originally owned by the institute of astronomy at Lund’s university. The telescope was used primarily by astronomy students. It weights around 200 kg and is 1,20 m across in diameter. With this telescope we will be able to observe regardless weather conditions and even at daytime the sun, some strong radio sources in Milky way and many other things.

At the same time we have spoken with the architects from the municipality office regarding an extension building northside from our observatory. I will publish soon some blueprints which will give a clear picture of how our future observatory will look like. Because the building plans are not official yet, I’ll have to wait from publishing any further information regarding construction plans until all plans are set.

Last night I held a lecture about Galileo’s telescope for members in our Tycho Brahe astronomy society here in Skåne. I would have kept going with my entire presentation for more then a hour but my time was limited to half. The lecture was describing the difficulties Galileo encountered in order to build his first telescope and the differences and achievements with later versions of his telescopes, as well as his first observations based on Jupiter, Venus and the moon that changed the world’s view.

Unfortunately Bengt Rosengren a member in our astro-society felt ill and couldn’t attend our meeting. He has created a Galileo telescope replica which would be available for our attendees to study. I am providing an image from his replica here.

Galileo's telescope
Lecture
Galileo's telescope
Lecture
Galileo's telescope
Lecture
Galileo telescope replica
Galileo telescope replica