Some early images from the total eclipse across the USA. Commentary below.....


Members of the AC travelled to the United States of America to observe and image the Great Eclipse of 2017.

After numerous projected traffic jam reports it was decided to get close to the observing site to avoid problems on the day. The chosen location was the town of Paducah in Kentucky , the eclipse duration in this area would be about 2 minutes 20 seconds. The day before the eclipse an observing site was evaluated and permission to `setup`next day obtained from the site owners. We set up our equipment an hour or so before first contact. The equipment comprised of a 70 mm William Optics Refractor , Ioptron cube mount, Celestron lightweight tripod, Bader filter, 2" extension tube, 2 " right angle adaptor and a Sony NEX5 camera.

A mostly clear sky and air temperatures in the 90`s suggested a clear view of the eclipse, but, as first contact arrived a small group of clouds arrived just in time to steal the arrival of the moon onto the suns disc. Fingers crossed by the crowd for about 15 minutes and the cloud cleared to reveal a partial eclipse and continuous clear sky. Through the telescope sunspots were seen just right of centre and some more that had emerged from the left of the disc in the last few days. After plenty of partial eclipse images a gradually deacreasing solar disc transformed into a broken thin crescent then the long awaited totality. The surroundings darkened rapidly and a spectacular corona was witnessed by all present who cheered and clapped. An erie grey twilight surrounded us all , rarely seen except at times of eclipse. Surrounding street lights came on and a stream of birds flew into their nightime roosting space - a tall factory chimney! Cameras clicked and mobile phones were all directed to the sky. Most observed the event with the Mk1 eyes leaving the more entusiastic to image the event with a variety of lensed equipment. A spectacular diamond ring marked the end of totality and the brightening sky again prompted rousing applause and cheering. The sunlight had returned and air temperatures went up again, a few last images of the brightening diamond ring and we were into the finale- a gradually increasing solar surface.

A few stalwarts remained as the crowd headed for refreshments and a late lunch. Some time later the event was over , equipment packed away , cameras with their precious memory cards carefully stowed for the journey home. If there was one downside to the whole day it was the 4 hour traffic jam on the freeway heading north to St Louis- a small price to pay for the amazing trans- North American eclipse. See you all again in 2024 for the next big one. More images  available on the AC Activity Web pages.

Special thanks to the `Mellow Mushroom` in Paducah for supporting the natural event with superb refreshment, great food and brilliant live music.





Peters latest `portable` to follow...


 Images courtesy of Paul Yates


   20" f 3.5 Dobsonian.   Thanks to the estate of -  Allan Gander

The new 20" Dobsonian nears completion. Improved truss mountings, new secondary spider and mounting,

finder scope and a Telrad. Base unit now sports some braked rubber wheels to aid movement. Roll out shed ready for use.







      . Camera Obscura

 What is a Camera Obscura? It is an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings onto a screen or table. We have, what we believe, is the largest table in the UK.

 The camera obscura objective is an achromatic doublet of 8" aperture and 200" focal length. The flat mirror that directs the outside view to the objective is elliptical in shape with a major axis of 17". The 8" objective focuses the view on to a 80" diameter table covering an angle of 40 degrees. The magnification if viewing the table from 20" is 10x. The camera housing can be rotated horizontally through 360 degrees via a motor driven friction drive and the view can be adjusted +/- 15 degrees from horizontal by tilting the mirror mirror manually with a control rod.



Sunset via the Camera Obscura


      . Scott Mount Meade 16" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain

This telescope consists of the commercial Meade optical tube assembly mounted on a professional standard asymmetric German type equatorial mount. The mount was donated to the Astronomy Centre by Mr. Nigel Scott of Hale, Cheshire. It has been completely refurbished by members of the Centre.

This instrument is the centre piece of the main observatory dome. This set-up is particularly suitable for long exposure photography. It can also be used for video astronomy.

        .  GOTO Mount Meade 16" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain

This instrument is a full specification Meade system, with the fork fitted on a GigaWedge to provide an equatorial mount and multi-functional GOTO capability. This unit is mounted in its own observatory on the plateau above the main dome.

This telescope will be used mainly for visual observing, real-time video recording and long-exposure astrophotography.

Attachments on the main tube assembly allow other, smaller, instruments to be fitted to take advantage of the high quality mount.



     · 17" F5 Newtonian Dobsonian

This telescope, housed in a fixed building, runs out on rails and can be used visually.



     · 30" F4.1 Newtonian Dobsonian

Ready for use,  if you have a head for heights. Rolls out from its own shed.



          · 12" F3.5 Reflecting Binocular Telescope

Offering excellent wide angle views of deep-sky objects this binocular telescope has a 1.6 degree field at 50X magnification.

It is of all aluminium construction and is housed like the 17" instrument.

     · 8.5" F12 Refractor

This achromatic 8.5" refracting telescope has its own observatory,  driven in RA, but it can easily be moved by hand.

The all aluminium telescope is mounted on a polar disc type German equatorial with electric drives (partly finished).

It will be used mainly for visual lunar and planetary observations.


    · Solar Equipment

We have several telescopes that can be fitted with suitable filters for solar observation in white light, plus a Coronado P.S.T. unit for hydrogen-alpha observations.

Peter is working on various modifications to the Coronado P.S.T. unit and we are getting excellent results.

A solar observatory that was completed in 2013 is proving very useful; it can also be used for night observing.


SM60mm Coronado etalon on a 80mm Skywatcher Startravel and BF15 Coronado blocking filter.





The latest 8" Newtonian Reflector on a

Fullerscopes Mount   " The Yates"


8" F8 Newtonian. Aluminium tube, 1/20th wave "research" grade optics by Orion Optics UK. Mounting, Fullerscopes Mk4 equatorial.




5" F15 triplet objective, originally by Ross of London but refigured by Horace Dall. Mount, alt-azimuth, Dobsonian style bearings. 



· Miscellaneous

We have a large and varied collection of portable telescopes, binoculars and accessories suitable for most aspects of general public astronomical presentation.

Members also often bring their own equipment up to the Observatory. Mains electricity is available at points on the upper plateau, should this be required to power telescope drives, laptop computers, etc.


      · Astrovid StellaCam II/III (B&W CCD Video             Integrating  Imaging System)

These video cameras allow deep-sky objects to be imaged in near-real-time on the monitors at the Observatory. They can integrate many individual frames to produce the final output. The video signals are also captured several times a minute, digitised and stored on a server at the Observatory for further processing. We plan to stream live images to the web site in the future.
The extra features in the version III camera include a cooled CCD chip and unlimited, manually controlled, integration times. The result is that fainter objects can be imaged with lower background noise.

Further details of this camera are available on the Astrovid Web Site.


    · KC-7H2P Camera (Colour CCD Video Camera)

This colour video camera allows brighter objects, such as the Moon and some planets, to be imaged in near-real-time on the monitors at the Observatory.



Watec WADE to 120N+ Deep Sky video camera

Watec and Mintron cameras are extremely sensitive analogue video cameras with a CCD microlens chip. They are widely found in astronomy as they are ideally suited for live viewing of DSOs, and photography of meteors and for minor planet occultations.


  • Effective pixels: 380k(N), 440k(P)

  • Resolution: 570TVL(H), 480TVL(V)

  • Minimum illumination: 0.00002 lx. F1.4

  • Gain control: MGC(8-38dB)

  • S/N ratio: 52dB

  • Shutter speeds: HI(OFF, 1/25, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000[Sec.]), LO(1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256[Frame])

  • Gamma: 0.35/0.45/1.0

  • Weight: 150g(Controller 210g)




Thanks to Matthew Lees for the following aerial images of the Astronomy Centre site.

REMSCOPE.........will be a remote controlled imaging source.


Samples of Remscope Web pages - Home, member log-in and session status / booking.....

September 2017


Building progress....



Phil is doing a fine job on the RemScope walls.                    The elevated view of Remscope over the AC site!



July 2017 - Blockwork layout prior to construction.


Summer 2017 - Foundation complete, wall blockwork proceeding.

                      Web server( Linux based) and file store PC assembled and live.

                      Web based access, status and booking system  V.1 running and stable.

                      Improved telephone/ Internet access connection.


Spring 2017 - Foundation flags , User booking system , Imaging and webserver, dome control / enviromental controller.

Autumn 2016  -  Foundations being excavated


Foundation flags


November 19th  ... snow stops play.