Archive of Home Page Pictures
Previous pictures used on the home page are archived here:
2003 Jul - 2004 Jan
2004 Jan - 2005 Apr
Great Shefford Observatory January 2004
(The security guard is our cat Gizmo. He must not be fed after midnight)
(Gizmo died in 2006)
2005 Apr - 2006 May
Great Shefford Observatory April 2005
A pair of peacocks have been daily visitors to the Observatory in 2005, a young
male is seen here in the late afternoon sunshine
2006 May - 2007 Jan
2006 (Meeting on Asteroids and Comets in Europe)
photo: Peter Birtwhistle
On Sunday 14th May 2006 astronomers discuss the meteorites on display at the Vienna Natural History
Museum at the end of proceedings of the 4th MACE meeting
which was held at the Kuffner Observatory in Vienna.
(From left to right) Roger Dymock, Christoph Goldmann, Armin Faltl, Richard Miles and Edwin Goffin listen as
Monty Robson talks about one of the meteorites
2007 Jan - 2007 Feb
Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)
photo: Peter Birtwhistle
Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) rises above farm buildings in Great
Shefford at 07:22 am, 50 minutes before sunrise on 8th January 2007, four days
Appearing as bright as the brightest stars, comet and tail
were obvious to the naked eye through thin cloud.
Comet was 4° above horizon, Sun 7° below horizon, elongation from Sun 13.8°.
Main image approx. 27°x15°, insert approx. 3°x2°. 1.8s
exposure, 19mm focal length with effective aperture f/5.3.
2007 Feb - 2007 Jul
Winter in Great Shefford
photo: Peter Birtwhistle
A wintry scene was created as snow fell for several hours on 8th February 2007.
With winters getting warmer this is now a fairly uncommon sight in
2007 Jul - 2008 Mar
Summer floods in Great Shefford
photo: Jack Birtwhistle
After hours of torrential rain on 20th July 2007 the
observatory is surrounded by water but stayed dry inside.
floods in Great Shefford caused plenty of local damage and disruption, but the
water subsided the same day.
Gloucestershire (less than 50 miles to the north west) fared much worse, with
houses under water for up to a week.
2008 Mar - 2009 Feb
Telescope mounting being tested March 2008
Engineer Steve examines the (upside-down) fork mounting with the 16" telescope lying to its
right. An unrelated blue 12" LX200 telescope is at top right.
An equipment failure on 12 March 2008 kept the observatory out
of operation for a week.
Various symptoms including the Ra & Dec
motors stalling, the GPS system not operating and the handset not retaining
settings led to both the telescope and fork mounting being dismantled and
returned to Telescope House (the UK Meade distributor) for investigation.
Eventually after extensive testing, all the problems were identified with a failing 18V 2A
mains transformer, which was replaced with a 13.8V 5A unit and normal operation
resumed on 19 March 2008 following the re-commissioning of telescope and
mounting within the observatory.
2009 Feb - 2011 Mar
Aircraft interloper "frozen" by strobe tail light
14 second exposure taken on 31 Jan 2009 at 21:50 UT.
Field of view 18' x 18'.
An aircraft passes through the field of view as images were being taken of a
newly discovered Near Earth Object.
In the 14 second long exposure an aircraft passes completely
through the field of view. Wing tip lights cause long continuous diagonal
streaks (top left and centre) while the strobe light on the underside of the
fuselage (left, below centre) instantaneously illuminates
the trails left by the two jet engines, "freezing" their movement. The
right hand wing is also dimly visible at bottom left.
The aircraft may be an
Airbus A320 which has a wingspan of 111 ft 10 in and if so was approximately
27,000 ft, or 5 miles away when the image was taken.
2011 Mar -
Visit to the Catalina Sky Survey team in
From left to right, Peter Birtwhistle, Carl Hergenrother (MPC),
Ed Beshore (CSS) and Steve Larson (CSS), in the Student Union building of the
University of Arizona campus, Tucson.
Photo by Rik Hill
A visit to Tucson to meet members of the Catalina Sky Survey team, the most
successful of the Near-Earth Object discovery Surveys.
Full story including more pictures
2012 Nov -
Great Shefford Observatory operating in moonlight
picture taken with a Nokia 808 PureView,
2.6 second exposure at ISO-1600
At 9pm on 29th November 2012, with the telescope tracking on a bright NEO
(2012 WH1), the full moon illuminates the
observatory and nearby chicken coop.
The bright star Vega can be seen in the North-West just above the trees which
are lit up by a street light only 25 meters from the observatory
2014 June -
Summer lightning turns night into day
at Great Shefford Observatory
a frame from an HD video taken with a Nokia 808 PureView
A few minutes before 1am on 14th June 2014 the observatory is lit up by
lightning during a long summer thunderstorm.
2018 July -
Noctilucent clouds seen from Great Shefford
Observatory on 6 July 2018
Nokia Lumia 1020 phone, 2 second hand held exposure at ISO-1000
After an observing run on 6th July 2018, 2h 20 min after local midnight and with twilight already strengthening, some noctilucent clouds were visible low to the north. The Sun was 10.5° below the horizon, 1.5 hours before sunrise.
Capella (Alpha Auriga) is in the upper centre, above the street light.