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Sunday 31 March 2024

Finally! Good views of comet Pons-Brooks

With no Moon, no cloud and dark skies, I was finally able to take some decent shots of Pons-Brooks , using a 300mm prime lens and 1.4 converter. If you're looking at this in a darkened room, you'll see that the comet has grown a faint tail: with luck this will lengthen and brighten over the next week or two.

Mercury was immediately below the comet on the western horizon, while Orion and itrs famous nebula were over to the south.

Saturday 30 March 2024

A walk around the block

Linda's three grandchildren came to visit (with son Simon, daughter Emily and their partners Jo and Ben) With Emily's two large dogs along for the morning, a walk in the country seemed the best idea: luckily, living where we do, that was just a question of a short stroll from the front door! Despite only taking a forty minute circular route through Pedham, we still managed to see two of each of Hares, Buzzards, Red Kites and Muntjacs: it must be spring!

Three planets!

Following an unpromisingly cloudy afternoon, the sky cleared just before sunset, allowing me to find and photograph Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus. Unfortunately by the time I moved on to look for Pons-Brooks a veil of thin haze had appeared, so the comet eluded me.

Friday 29 March 2024

Three planets and a comet!

Tonight - and for a few nights - if it's clear just after sunset it will be possible to see the planets Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus above the western horizon, around the 'hockey stick' constellation of Aries. Jupiter is, of course, unmissably bright, so with Uranus close by it's a great opportunity to pick out this distant gas giant. Not far away is the comet Pons-Brooks: it's still brightening and is around the same magnitude - 5 - as Uranus: you'll need a telescope or binoculars to find them. Of course, a ten-second exposure with your DSLR should pick up both. Mercury sets soon after the Sun, but is bright enough to be obvious if you have clear, dark skies...

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Long-billed Dowitcher at Cley - but not much else!

Brian, Norman and I took a drive up to Cley in the hope of a few migrants: in the event we didn't see any hirundines, chats or Spoonbills.The centre hides are open again, so we started there with distant views of the long-staying Dowitcher, both on the deck and in flight. A move to Bishop's was unproductive, as was a walk to the sea along the East Bank. Coffee and scones on the terrace gave us distant views of a Great Egret but, with nothing to detain us, we decided to return home via Hickling.

The majority of the paths are still closed: hard to see why the track to the 'mound' at Brendon's Marsh is still out of bounds, since it is patently as dry as a bone!

A distant Crane and an even more distant Great Egret were about the best of it - several booming Bitterns were good to hear, but we failed to pick out any Garganey.

Both at Cley and Hickling the USAF were very active, with F35s and a KC135 in evidence.

Monday 25 March 2024

March wildlife survey at Hemblington Church

Linda, Sue, Peter and I met at the Church to carry out the monthly survey of wildlife in and around the churchyard. The chilly breeze resulted in a low total, but it was pleasant to see Native Daffodils and Celandines pushing up through the rank grass...

Some good astronomy!

For the first time in a while the sky was completely clear last night: this coincided with predictions of a significant auroral display, so I drove up to the top of the Heath to try for some photos. In the event I arrived after the peak, but even with the naked eye there was a definite tinge to the north: sometimes green, sometimes reddish.

With such a clear sky, I took the opportunity to look for comet Pons-Brooks: despite the full Moon I could just pick it out and managed a couple of photos. Mercury was a lot easier, twinkling brightly above the western horizon.

Sunday 24 March 2024

Very spotty Sun!

When it was visible through the fast-moving clouds, the Sun was covered in sunspots this afternoon. (Taken with a Baader solar filter: NEVER look directly at the Sun!)