Amateur Astronomy from Edinburgh

This website is a place where I can post my images purely for the fun of it. You can find more information about the equipment I use on the About/Equipment page. Some of my best images are on display on the Showcase page.

To give me something to aim for, I have set up pages to get as many Messier and Lunar 100 objects as I can. The Deep Sky page is for objects not in Messier’s catalogue and includes some more recent lists such as the Caldwell and Finest NGC catalogues.

Recent posts

Light pollution is a serious problem for amateur astronomy here on the edge of Edinburgh, Scotland, so this is a battle of photons vs sodium! Please come back and visit as the site develops, I make lots of mistakes, the weather gets worse and the skies get brighter.


M81 Technology comparison

22 January 2017|News|

Following on from last month’s talk at the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh about astronomical sensors, this image shows how current amateur technology rivals that of the professionals from the past.

The first image I took using glass plates on the James Gregory Telescope 37″ SCT, the largest operational telescope in the UK, at the University of St Andrews in 1984. The one on the right I took in January 2017 using readily available amateur equipment.

Modern sensors make a huge difference. Undoubtedly the JGT can do much better now!

M81 (NGC 3031)

22 January 2017|Galaxy, M61-90, News|

Spiral Galaxy, Ursa Major
Mag 6.9, size 21’x10′
200mm f8 RC at f6 (Revelation x0.75 reducer)
Piggyback guiding with 70mm f/7 refractor
L 10×240s 2×2, RGB 10×120s 4×4 Darks Bias Flats
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

Terrible trouble with LP, noise and flats. Hard to process out the flaws.

Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Due to its proximity to Earth, large size and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a 70 million M☉ supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers.

Messier 81 was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode on December 31, 1774. Consequently, the galaxy is sometimes referred to as “Bode’s Galaxy”. In 1779, Pierre Méchain and Charles Messier reidentified Bode’s object, which was subsequently listed in the Messier Catalogue.


Sun 2017-01-16

16 January 2017|News, Sun|

2017-01-16   13:36UT
C80ED 80mm f7.5
Meade solar filter
Canon 600D
Processed in Lightroom

Just 2 sunspot groups today.

99.2% Moon

11 January 2017|Moon, News|

13.5 days 99.2% Moon
2017-01-11 19:58

C80ED  and Canon 600D.
80mm ED refractor at f7.5

First full moon of a year is apparently called the “Wolf Moon”.


Quick 4-day-old Moon snaps

3 January 2017|Moon, News|

4.1 days 18.2% Moon
2017-01-02 17:56

Made using the C80ED on the new altaz mount and Canon 600D.

The Earthshine one is obviously overexposed to show the dark side of the Moon.

80mm ED refractor at f7.5

M42 for 2017

2 January 2017|M31-60, Nebula, News|

Got to do it every year – this is the 2017 version. Also trying out my new Revelation x0.75 reducer for the RC8. Seems to work very well for a very reasonable price £69. Spacing should be 80mm +/- 5mm. I managed to get 75mm with my filter wheel and 460EX.

Orion Nebula, Diffuse Emission Nebula, Orion
Mag 4.0 Size 85’x60′
200mm f8 RC at f6 (new Revelation x0.75 reducer)
Piggyback guiding with new 70mm f/7 achromatic refractor
L 15×60s 2×2, RGB 15×30s 4×4 BPM
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

New grab-and-go mount plus freebie

2 January 2017|News|

Skywatcher Mercury-705 on AZ3 Happy New Year

So I wanted a simple altaz mount to keep in the house and grab-and-go to have a quick look at stuff and show things to others without having to open the observatory. I chose the Skywatcher AZ3 mount which I thought would suit my C80ED refractor well.

I found it for about £120 at most places which seemed reasonable. However, I also found it for £99 at Wex Photographic including a 70mm f/7 achromatic refractor. So £20 cheaper plus a free telescope! Obviously the telescope isn’t as good as the C80 but I am now using it as a guidescope instead of the C80, which was too good to be used solely for that purpose. Can’t be bad!

NGC1977 Running Man Nebula

26 November 2016|Nebula, News, NGC Winter|

Another attempt at this with the CCD this time. Images get progressively worse through the night as equipment mists up despite attempts to stop it. Flats were useless and made it all worse so a little vignetting.

200mm f5 Newtonian, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 9×180 1×1, RGB 9×120 2×2
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

How not to image NGC 2175

23 November 2016|News|

Just about everything is wrong with this image: framing, camera alignment, elongated stars, light pollution from car headlights, noise, dead pixels, haze, frost, …

Basically just an ugly image! Nothing has been going right with imaging recently. Software and hardware don’t play nicely, PC crashes, balance is never right, bad guiding, bad weather, optics fog up,… Think I’ll give up! Maybe 😉

Time to take the Newt off and put the RC8 back on.

200mm f5 Newtonian, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 8×300 2×2, RGB 8×240 3×3
BPM, flats
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC

Astronomy Day East Fortune 19 Nov 2016

9 November 2016|News|

astrodayJoin us for Astronomy Day on Saturday 19 November at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune. See the poster for full details of all the family friendly events, including planetarium shows, space-themes talks, astronomy displays, stargazing and much more.

M31 core

3 October 2016|Galaxy, M31-60, News|

Haven’t visited this one for ages. FOV obviously too small to fit the whole galaxy in.
Had to stop after 6 exposures because sky transparency was reducing and dew was becoming an issue.
Dust lanes show up nicely.

200mm f5 Newtonian, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 6×90 1×1, RGB 6×60 2×2
BPM, flats
Atik 460EX (-21C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

M15 test of upgraded mount

6 September 2016|News|

Not that I needed another image of M15 but it was conveniently placed to check out the belt drive mod to my EQ6.

Drive is smoother, quieter, points more accurately and guides nicely. Success I think!

200mm f/5 Newtonian
Canon 600D
20x90s lights
darks and flats, guided in PHD on C80ED
Captured in APT, processed in Nebulosity and PS CC

EQ6 strip down and belt mod

12 July 2016|News, Technique|

Taking the summer twilight zone in Scotland as an opportunity to strip down my EQ6 mount which was getting stiff, especially in Dec. Disassembly was quite straightfoward apart from one of the RA bearings which got a little damaged. However, these are known to be poor quality so I’ve also bought 4 new bearings for the RA and Dec worms to replace them. Thanks to Chris Bailey on this UKAI thread for the info.

Also decided to do a belt mod at the same time to try and remove some of the awful errors in the drive train. I chose the Rowan belt mod. Let’s see how it goes.

Got some white lithium grease to replace the seriously gunky stuff that covers everything.

Transit of Mercury

9 May 2016|News, Sun|

2016-05-09 11:18 UT
C80ED 80mm f/7
Meade solar filter
Canon 600D

Sun 2016-05-08

8 May 2016|News, Sun|

Getting ready for the transit of Mercurt tomorrow.

2016-05-08 12:20UT
C80ED 80mm f/7
Meade solar filter
Canon 600D

M1 Crab nebula

15 January 2016|News|

First time out for soooo long. Weather has been horrendous.

This needs far more subs but this is how it came out. Sky conditions were less than perfect: frost, moisture, car headlights, crescent moon… Lots of gradients inthe background as a result. I’ll add to it when I can.

200mm f8 RC, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 9×300 2×2, RGB 8×240 3×3
BPM, flats
Atik 460EX (-10C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

Wide angle shots from the Pentlands

14 January 2016|News, Other|

Just processed these from 14/10/2015

Canon EOS 600D unguided
Various exposures 8 – 20 seconds
Processed in Adobe Lightroom CC


M33 (NGC 598)

9 October 2015|Galaxy, M31-60, News|

Spiral Galaxy, Traingulum
Mag 7 Size 73’x45′
200mm f8 RC, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 8×300 2×2, RGB 8×240 3×3
BPM, flats
Atik 460EX (-10C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

Updated 2015-10-09 using the 460EX. Older one below.
Low surface brightness. Hard to image effectively.


200mm f8 RC, OAG
15x240s, 2x360x ISO 1600, darks, flats
Canon EOS 350D modded, Astronomik CLS
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity, PS CS5