Last updated 12 Jul 2024

What's New
Moon etc
Contact Us
Site Map


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
MACE 2006
  (Meeting on Asteroids and Comets in Europe) Astronomers discuss meteorites in Vienna Natural History Museum during MACE 2006  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 on display.

2007 Jan - 2007 Feb
Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)
Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) rises above farm buildings before sunrise on 8th Jan 2007 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 before perihelion.
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. 27x15, insert approx. 3x2. 1.8s exposure, 19mm focal length with effective aperture f/5.3.

2007 Feb - 2007 Jul
Winter in Great Shefford 
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 Great Shefford.

2007 Jul - 2008 Mar
Summer floods in Great Shefford 
Winter 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.
Flash 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 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 - 2012 Nov
Visit to the Catalina Sky Survey team in Tucson, AZ
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 here.

2012 Nov - 2014 June
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 - 2018 July
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 - 2024 April
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.

2024 April -
Meteor photobombs Apollo object 2017 TN6 on 28 April 2024

13 x 12 sec exposures, field 18' x 18', 0.4-m Schmidt-Cass + CCD

A meteor crosses the field while potentially hazardous Apollo asteroid 2017 TN6 was being imaged on 28 April 2024.
The ionised trail left behind in the upper atmosphere drifts out of view over the next 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
(The asteroid is too faint to see in the individual images)

Home Whats New Location Equipment Software Methods Results  
Gallery Links Ephemerides Moon Meetings Contact Us Site map

Copyright 2003 - 2024 Peter Birtwhistle