Saturday, January 13, 2018

Non-Astronomy Photos 2018

January 10th

I caught a cat on a roof but it was cold felt, rather than hot tin.

January 7th

I took some pigeon shots from my back door. However, they were slightly out of focus.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Writing Blog

 “The Theory of Nothing” has now had a change to its title and is now “The Quantum God” to reflect the main character’s newer ideas about the universe. I haven’t started writing it yet but am starting to jot down ideas and write some pieces that I may use of adapt later.

“Being an Astronomer” has stalled, partly because I need to take more photos and I have been distracted by my end-of-year activities and my brain has been buzzing with “The Quantum God”.

 It is not unusual for writers to have more than one project on the go but we must be sure that any ideas, that are worth pursuing, make their way into “print”.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Asocial Blog

Philip Pugh's Asocial Blog


I always thought of myself as a social person, first down the Student Union Bar. 40 years later I have no idea how much a pint of beer costs in a pub. Do they even serve pints these days, or is it half-litres? That’s what I mean by being “asocial”. Being anti-social is deliberate sabotage of other peoples’ lives, like vandalising bus timetables, smashing windows and all that. I’m certainly not that, nor do I wish to be. I simply do not meet people in a traditional social setting. At first, I thought it was me, that I was somehow different and not inherently likeable. Well I do have personality traits that many people find uninteresting or irritating but just name one person who doesn’t, not that I’m using that in any way as an excuse. No, I’ve come to the conclusion that we now live in a very asocial society (is it even a “society” any more?). I’m just an example and not an exception.

Firstly, social life pretty much went out of the window when our daughter was born. No, I do not regret having her, nor do I regret putting her first but, as a result, my wife and I neglected ourselves. Secondly, I live far from my birth family and even further than my in-laws, actually the other side of the Atlantic and the equator. We have friendships here that we value very much and they know we are here for them and vice-versa. Thirdly, it is impossible to meet friends down the pub or visit anyone when you are part-way round the world on a business or, for that matter, packing for one or unpacking from one! But I’m online a lot and I do interact with people through work, so I do have a social comment, even though I am asocial.



This is crass lunacy on so many levels. Firstly, there are fights in and outside pubs and nightclubs very weekend in this country. Why does it take more than three months to investigate an alleged fight outside a nightclub? Surely the police and judicial system have got several centuries worth of experience of dealing with these sort of things? I've seen some speculation as to what happened, yet seen nothing to confirm or deny it.
I always thought people were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Now, if someone is in the public eye, they are "tried and convicted" by the press and if they are proven innocent, well there is "no smoke without fire" is there? Didn't he hire a great solicitor who could get him off?
Then what about the England and Wales Cricket Board? The Aussies must be laughing their heads off at us. Perhaps Ben Stokes was unwise to be outside a nightclub after 2 AM. As far as I know there was no grievous bodily harm and if they ever jailed everyone who ever got involved in a bit of fisticuffs, over half of the adult male population would be in clink. No, I'm not excusing it and I'm not condoning it but a fight outside a nightclub is hardly in the same class as armed robbery, terrorism or causing death by drunk driving. If the judicial system couldn't get their act together and knock the issue on the head BEFORE the start of the Ashes, then why was Ben Stokes not allowed to play? Perhaps he should have been suspended from vice-captain, at least until it was resolved.
As it was, this lunacy cost England one of their top players. Few might speculate that we would have saved the Ashes even if he played but even the Aussies would feel that the team that they beat wasn't a full strength one and the victory was somewhat hollow. Has this been in the public interests and the interests of the game of cricket? Not a hope?

January 17th Minister for Loneliness

Government gimmick or a genuine attempt to deal with an increasing problem? Whichever your view, loneliness is real and it won't go away in a hurry.

January 2018

January 17th 1150 GMT

I had a brief opportunity to check the Sun through my binoculars and filters and saw two small sunspots.

January 16th 1100 GMT

Finally, a sunspot was present on the SOHO images and I had some clear sky, well clear-ISH! As there was moving cloud, I was unable to try a telescope and camera (my preferred method), so used a binocular scan instead. I did not find the sunspot, though.

January 6th 2040 GMT

 There was some clear sky. I Used my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO6400 and 2 seconds exposure. I started with the Pleiades (M45) and the Orion Great Nebula (M42). I also had a try at M41, which was almost certainly too low and M35 which I just could not find!
The Pleaides did not stack in Deep Sky Stacker, despite taking 21 dark frames. I stacked 11 frames in Microsoft ICE instead and finished in GIMP.

I managed to stack M42 with Deep Sky Stacker.

No luck with either M35 nor M41 but I stacked eight frames of Alcor and Mizar.


January 5th 2110 GMT

I tried snapping the north polar region at 300mm focal length, ISO 800 and 3 minutes exposure. It did not come out as hoped, as it showed star trailing.

January 5th 0835 GMT

There was some moving cloud, with clear patches. I took some shots of the Moon with my DSLR at the same settings as 3rd.

January 3rd 0640 GMT

There was still moving cloud after a storm but moonlight was getting through sometimes. I took some full disc shots with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/2000 second exposure.



January 1st 1315

I checked the Sun with my PST. The solar disc was bland but I was unable to photograph it but my camera had stopped working, hopefully not for good.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Social Media Policy for 2018

First, many thanks to all my followers and audience during 2017.

 I’m making some key changes for 2018. This is in response to various changes in my life and also how I perceive the way people view photos and blogs in general.

 Astronomy Blog (arranged by month on here)

My astronomy blog will stay pretty much as is. I cannot say, for sure, whether I will observe and photograph more or less. As with most people, my sources of income and family needs come before astronomy, blogging and just about anything else. As before, posting my updates will usually be up to two weeks after my observation.


Fortunately, I’m not one of those people who post hundreds of selfies on Instagram and never have been. My appearance is less than interesting to most people as I am neither exceptionally handsome nor ugly. In any case, I DO NOT share photographs instantly anyway but carefully check and edit them before they reach cyberspace. I am still guilty of over-posting photos. From now on I will only post photos that are of high quality or especially interesting but, preferably both. I use Flickr for my gallery and I will stick with Flickr unless they start charging and restricting space, which is why I migrated to Flickr in the first place.

I will still be posting photos in my astronomy blog but will only post the highlights to my Flickr gallery and my picture videos.

I have started a new blog entry for non-astronomy photos, with only highlights going to my Flickr gallery and picture videos:

Asocial Blog

 This is a new feature with comments on the news and social media. Yes, it will include such things as religion and politics, so if you are easily offended, please give it a wide berth. Feel free to post your views agreeing or disagreeing. I will treat you with respect but any post disrespecting me or other people posting comments will be removed. However, if you re-post your comment with disrespectful remarks removed, I will welcome it.

 My Writing Blog (

 I will continue to post about my writing but have started a new thread for 2018.


I will continue to use Twitter to communicate small messages and links to updated material.

I cannot promise what time of day it will be but I will post at least one astronomical photo per day. If it is not a current photo, it will be an interesting one from my back catalogue. If you don’t have Twitter and don’t want to have Twitter (although setting up an account is quite easy) just use Google or another search engine and search for “Philip Pugh” and “astronomy”. You can also view my Twitter feed via a link on my home page, without setting up an account. Better still, set up an account and follow me and I will follow you back and will re-tweet anything I find interesting from you.

I will post major updates on Facebook (, too but I do not check my Facebook messages hourly or even daily.

My Website

This will remain largely untouched and most of my media content will be in my blog. However I PROMISE to update the background photos more often, something I failed to do adequately in 2016 and 2017.


Feedback is welcome and I will address it as completely and promptly as I can.

And Finally…

The nature of my life and anticipated changes for 2018 will mean that I will not update my social media for days but, conversely, may have times when I am less busy and able to respond to messages and post updates.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December 2017

December 31st 2200 GMT

Conditions were broken, light cloud there was only one target worth photographing and that was the Moon. The Moon appeared full and was near perigee. I took 120 frames with my Mak and DSLR at 1.54m focal length, 1/500 second exposure and ISO 100.

December 27th 1710 GMT

The sky was clear and I took some full disc moon shots with my Mak and DSLR. I also took some close-ups with my Meade Electronic Eyepiece. Nine whole days of inaction.


December 18th 1730 GMT

I took some test shots then aimed my camera at Perseus at 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure.
At 1802 GMT, I caught a meteor and it was in the right direction to label a Geminid. Luckily it went through Melotte 20.

At 1813 GMT, I caught another one in the same part of sky.

 I stacked 250 images to catch Melotte 20 and part of Perseus.


December 17th 0000 GMT

I reset the camera to 3 seconds exposure and 300mm focal length, still at ISO 6400 and aimed at the Orion Great Nebula (M42), I stacked 227 images to get this.

Then there were 273 frames of Orion's Belt.

December 16th 2030 GMT

Unfortunately my wide-angle camera lens was broken, so I set a meteor trap with 70mm (hardly ideal). I used ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure.
OK, no meteors but I picked up the star clusters M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga.

At 2120 I moved the camera to the Hyades and waited!


December 15th 2145 GMT

It finally cleared, so I set up a camera to hunt for meteors. To be honest, I was having technical problems with my wide-angle lens so I got the settings well wrong. I caught a sporadic meteor with a short trail at about 2150 GMT.


December 14th 1240 GMT

The Sun appeared featureless in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. As I hadn’t seen the Sun for a few days, I took some full disc and quadrant shots.

December 11th 1730 GMT

I did not honestly think it was properly dark but I saw a few constellations. I left the camera at its normal meteor settings and aimed the bottom of the frame with the area between Ursa Major and Auriga.
At 1739 GMT I caught a meteor coming from the right direction to identify it as a Geminid. Yipeee!!

December 9th 0825 GMT

I was busy, so just took some full disc shots of the Moon with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

December 8th 2130 GMT

I had another go at catching meteors but, as it was later, I aimed the camera at Gemini. I processed an early frame to reveal the constellation of Auriga.

A later patch of clear sky enabled me to stack 33 images of Auriga and Gemini together.

No meteors this time.

December 8th 0740 GMT

The weather forecast was bad but there was a moon in a patch of clear sky with my name on. I took a few full disc frames before cloud, and then rain rolled in. Unfortunately, I had over-exposed the frames so the final result was not as good as I hoped.

December 7th 1855 GMT

I set my camera as a Geminid meteor trap by using the usual settings and aiming the camera at Auriga. I did not catch any meteors. As most frames had cloud, I did not stack anything but extracted an image of Perseus from one of the better frames.

December 7th 1250 GMT

After days of cloud, it finally cleared but the Sun was rather quiet, so I took full disc shots only.

December 3rd 2100 GMT

Conditions were not great but enough moonlight was getting through the cloud. Only very bright  stars were visible, Castor being the faintest. I took 221 frames at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

December 2nd 2345 GMT

The weather forecast was awful but when I let our dogs out, I saw that the Moon was showing through the cloud. I did a quick shoot, in case the opportunity was lost. I experimented with the settings but found that the best results were with 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure. The Moon was very bright, as it was near perigee and about 14 hours before full phase.

December 1st 1200 GMT

The Sun was quiet, so I just did a quick solar shoot of mostly full disc shots.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 2017

November 30th 1240 GMT

The Sun was very bland, so I just took some full disc shots in hydrogen alpha light with my PST.

November 29th 1725 GMT

The sky was cloudy and there was a halo around the Moon. I took some full disc shots and halo shots with my DSLR. The halo did not come out properly.

November 29th 1055 GMT

The Sun was very quiet in hydrogen alpha light, so I took a few disc frames and close-ups only, and not a full shoot.


November 28th 2030 GMT

I had a busy day, so only had time for a quick binocular scan of the evening sky. The Moon was bright and about 9 days since full. Sinus Iridium was on the terminator and looking great, as were the southern craters.

Only the brighter open star clusters were easily visible. The Pleiades (M45), Hyades and Melotte 20 all showed well, despite the bright moonlight. Fainter objects, such as the Orion Great Nebula (M42) were very faint or invisible.

November 27th 2150 GMT

My main idea was to have another go at photographing the polar regions but first I used the Moon to focus and took a few frames at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.



I then took a few frames with the Pole Star in the centre of the frame with 300mm  focal length, ISO 6400 and 20 seconds exposure. Unfortunately, stacking did not work.


November 26th 

2000 GMT

I took a few frames of the Moon with my Mak and DSLR but tried an exposure of 1/250 second.

November 26th 0030 GMT

I took a few frames of M35 with my DSLR at 135mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure, then shot some dark frames.

November 25th 1930 GMT

I set my DSLR pointing overhead with 18mm focal length ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. I did not pick up any stars, possibly due to incorrect settings.

At 2020 GMT I pointed the camera at Auriga.
At 2112 GMT, the frame was not great quality but I caught a meteor just north of Auriga.

I stacked the first 100 frames using Microsoft ICE and finished in GIMP to get the widefield image.

At 2105 GMT, I moved the camera to Taurus. I stacked the first 13 images.

November 25th 1910 GMT

I took a few frames of the Moon with my Mak and DSLR at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/500 second exposure.

November 25th 1110 GMT

The Sun seemed quiet in hydrogen alpha light and cloud rolled in before I could complete the shoot.

November 24th 1315 GMT

It was still lunchtime for many people, but the Sun was noticeably west and low down. I did not see any features visually but took a full set of images.

November 23rd 0910 GMT

The Sun was low but I proceeded with a hydrogen alpha shoot as the weather forecast for later was poor and I had a busy morning on. Slow-moving cloud did not help and it seemed that my lens cleaning was not 100% either. Again!!!

November 19th 1220 GMT

Visually, the Sun seemed very quiet in hydrogen alpha light. However, as I found detail in the photos from the day before, I proceeded with a full photo shoot. Unfortunately, my lens cleaning had done more harm than good!

November 19th 0300 GMT

 I finished off by taking a few shots of the Pleiades (M45) at 180mm focal length, 8 seconds exposure and ISO 6400.


I tried the same settings on Orion’s belt. DSS didn't work but I managed to stack 20 frames in Microsoft ICE.
I also took some dark frames.

Nov 19th 0040 GMT

After a wet day, the sky finally cleared and clear it did! I was about a day late for the Leonid meteor shower peak. I aimed my camera in the Cancer area with ISO 6400, 8 seconds exposure and 18mm focal length.
I tried to stack images with Deep Sky Stacker in batches but I was unable to stitch them together. This image had part of Cancer on the lower right and shows the Beehive. Parts of Ursa Major and Gemini are visible.

Unfortunately, I did not catch any meteors, Leonids or otherwise and most of the remaining frames were ruined by dew.

November 17th 1100 GMT

With clear sky and a sunspot visible in the Big Bear images, I took a shot of the Sun with my DSLR, Mak and filters. Focal length was 1.54m, brightness was ISO 100 and exposure time was 1/2000 second.

I proceeded to do a solar hydrogen alpha shoot straight afterwards. I did not see any detail visually but hoped that I would find some in the photos, as the day before.

November 16th 2130 GMT

I thought it was more than time to do some observing. Orion was rising in the east and I was able to make out the Orion Great Nebula (M42). Further up, the Pleiades (M45) and Hyades looked superb. M35, in Gemini, was low but clearly visible. Melotte 20 and the Perseus Double Cluster looked superb and I forgot to check M34. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) was almost directly overhead, so a bit of a neck-breaker but looked superb, with a hint of the structure that is visible in larger instruments. I even saw some of the Pinwheel (M33) but, as usual, found the spiral arms easier to see than the centre. I could not make out M29 and M39 in Cygnus against the background Milky Way, which looked truly superb. I saw the globular cluster M15, just, but M13 was simply too low, as were M81 and M82.

I attempted some photographs but the focus was badly out.

November 16th 1000 GMT

There was a clear patch of sky but it was forecast to cloud over later. I did a solar hydrogen alpha shoot. The Sun was quiet but I proceeded to take some full disc and close-up shots.

Nov 12th 2115 GMT

The sky was clear so I left a camera out with the intervalometer at 18mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 5 seconds exposure.
At 2140 GMT, I captured a meteor on camera.
I stacked 200 frames to obtain a widefield shot of Cassiopeia, which includes the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the Perseus Double Cluster and Melotte 20.

November 10th 0905 GMT

At 12 degrees Centigrade, it was unseasonally mild but the Sun was low down. It seemed quiet in hydrogen alpha light but I took a few exposures, with some partially covered by cloud.

November 8th 0910 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. The disc looked bland but I proceeded to take full disc and close-up shots anyway.


November 8th 0800 GMT

The Sun was up but the Moon was high and bright in the west. I took some exposures with my Mak and DSLR at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1600 second exposure. I soon realised that this was increased the exposure time to 1/800 second.

November 5th 1845 GMT

It was dark and the Moon was not yet up. Time to see if I could catch some Taurid meteors on camera. I aimed the camera at the Perseus/Auriga area with 18mm focal length, ISO 600 and 5 seconds exposure. As it was cold, I let the intervalometer do its stuff.

There was action on the third frame as I caught a short meteor trail near Melotte 20 in Perseus. Due to its direction, it wasn't a Taurid.

Two minutes later, I caught another sporadic (non-shower) meteor west of the Perseus Double Cluster.

I caught a rotating satellite trail.

I found another meteor near north-western Perseus. Was this co-incidence or was there a pattern emerging?

I caught a few fireworks but this was memorable.

Finally, I stacked 7 images to get Perseus.

November 5th 1330 GMT

I was waiting for some clear sky and it finally arrived! However, the solar disc was mostly bland apart from on the left limb. I took some full disc shots and selected close-ups.

Nov 4th 2210 GMT

I went out to do some Moon snapping but found a lot of moving cloud about. I used the Mak at 1.54m focal length and my DSLR at ISO 100 and 1/400 second exposure. I stacked 141 images in Microsoft ICE and finished in GIMP.

Unfortunately, cloud had crept in but I had a go with the Bresser Electronic Eyepiece.

Nov 2nd 1050 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. I took full disc frames and a small set of close-ups.

Nov 1st 2000 GMT

I took 151 full disc frames of the Moon with my Mak and DSLR at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/400 second exposure.

I then did a few imaging runs using my Mak and Bresser Electronic Eyepiece.