Epic display of aurora borealis 13./14.3.2022

Observed phenomena: Aurora borealis
Date: 13./14.3.2022
Time: 17:30-01:00 UT
Observing place: Nakkila and Ulvila, Finland
Observing conditions: Clear sky, 80% Moon high in the sky
Observed aurora forms:

  • Veil
  • Band
  • Rays
  • Corona

A strong CME was erupted from the Sun on 11th of March and it was expected to hit Earth in 13th of March and so it did, couple of hours before estimated time of arrival. That CME caused geomagnetic storm of class G2, which is minor but large enough to cause epic display of aurora borealis.

I went to the observing site in Nakkila already before dark so that I could be ready for the show! The auroras appeared already well before proper darkness! When astronomical darkness finally descended, the show was going on, and a majestic aurora band appeared in the northern sky. The auroras stretched well beyond zenith in the southern sky. Around 19UT the auroras started fading, and I decided to go sleeping.

When I woke up in the morning, I checked what cameras of Ulvila observatory had captured, and then my jaw dropped to the floor! The cameras had captured amazingly epic show, that are rare here in southern Finland! At the best phase around 23:30 UT the aurora corona covered all of the sky, and the auroras were very bright and active! I should have stayed up and fight the tiredness in the evening!

But luckily we have the cameras in Ulvila observatory!

Below you can see my photos from the early part of the evening in Nakkila:

Below you can see photos captured by Karhukamera in Ulvila observatory:

Below you can see time lapse video from Karhukamera:

Christmas Night Time Lapse 2021

In the evening of Christmas eve, I decided to shoot another time lapse video. I was spending the Christmas eve with my parents in Ulvila, Finland. There would be a good and safe location for leaving the camera out for the shooting session.

After shooting the time lapse in Kokemäki, I decided to purchase AC adapter and heating band for long time lapse sessions. This time I was using the AC adapter, which enabled me to shoot as long video as I wanted, but I decided to limit the length of the session to 5 hours (which is my typical length for a time lapse video), because the battery of the remote control wouldn’t last indefinitely anyway (it is not possible to get the remote AC powered, unfortunately).

So I left the camera to shoot for 5 hours. Next morning I picked up the camera, and it had worked exactly as planned! From the material I composed the video. Unfortunately the sky was quite cloudy during the shooting session, but there are some stars visible and also Moon rise was recorded to the video. The rising Moon is visible in the right edge of the view near the end of the video. This actually brings me an idea about my next video!

So hope you enjoy the video anyway, and hopefully you all have had enjoyable and happy Christmas!

Christmas night time lapse 2021, shot in Ulvila, Finland

Comet observing in freezing weather 4./5.12.2021

  • Date: 4./5.12.2021
  • Time: 04:00-05:30 UT
  • Observing site: Koivuranta, Kokemäki, Finland
  • Instrument: N250/1200 mm
  • SQM: 21.23-20.15
  • Weather: clear sky, very cold breeze, -16 °C, a little bit of snow on the ground, no Moon
  • Objects observed: C/2021 A1 (Leonard) and 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko

I recently wrote about time lapse video and startrail photo that I made in early December in little bit chilly conditions. That was in early evening/late night, but there was another highlight coming up in the morning, two a little bit brighter comets: C/2021 A1 (Leonard) and 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. I was thinking about whether I should stay awake until morning or sleep a little bit before waking up early to see the comets. I decided to sleep a while, even though the sleeping cabins were freezing (they weren’t planned to be used in winter conditions).

C/2021 A1 (Leonard)

Nevertheless, I was able to sleep for couple of hours, and I woke up about 05.30 AM to see the comets. The morning sky was absolutely stunning, and it was even colder than in early evening! I didn’t let the cold weather to stop me, and I started looking for comet Leonard with my dobsonian. I found it easily near star 12 Boo in constellation of Bootes. It was easily visible already with finderscope.

With 50 x, the comet was easily visible. Besides the pretty bright coma of the comet, also some tail was visible, visually visible length of the tail was at least half of the field of view. Direction of the tail was towards NNW. There was also a clear central brightening visible in the middle of the coma.

  • Degree of condensation (DC): 6 (scale from 0 to 9)
  • Diameter of the coma: 8′ (estimated from the drawing)
  • Length and direction of the tail: 30′ NNW
  • Brightness: about 6 magnitudes (based on observations in COBS, not my own observation)
Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) sketched in the morning of 5th of December, 10”Newton, 50 x

67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko

After having observed comet Leonard, I tried to find also slightly fainter and smaller comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It was easily found near star iota Cnc in the constellation of Cancer. With 240 x, the coma of the comet was visible as a faint, roundish patch of light. No visual tail was visible. There was a slight peak of brightness in the middle of the coma. Visual diameter of the coma was about 2,5′. The coma appeared to be slightly elongated in W-E -direction.

  • Degree of condensation (DC): 6 (scale from 0 to 9)
  • Diameter of the coma: 2,5′ (estimated from the drawing)
  • Length and direction of the tail: no visual tail visible
  • Brightness: about 9 magnitudes (based on observations in COBS, not my own observation)
Comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko sketched in the morning of 5th of December 2021, 10” Newton, 240 x

After having observed the comets, it was time to morning sauna and hot coffee to warm me up! I’m happy that I was able to observe comet Leonard, as it is such comet on parabolic orbit, that may never come back to the inner Solar system, so this might have been first and last time for me to see the comet.

Night sky time lapse & star trails in freezing weather 4./5.12.2021

The annual Arcturus Star Party of Porin Karhunvartijat was organized this year in the first weekend of December 2021, which was from 3th to 5th of December. The event location also this time was Koivuranta camp site in the southern shore of Lake Sääksjärvi (which is actually an ancient meteor impact crater) in municipality of Kokemäki, western Finland.

First night of the event was cloudy, but then in Saturday the sky cleared up and temperature was dropping to freezing degrees. The night was clear, but extremely cold! The lowest temperature was about -18 °C! Despite the harsh winter weather (a little bit unusually cold for early winter here in southern Finland), I set my camera up on the ice of the frozen Lake Sääksjärvi to shoot some time lapse video. I pointed my camera northwards just in case if northern lights would appear. Besides that, I could also make a time lapse video about the rotation of the stars around the northern celestial pole, and perhaps make a star trail image too!

Usually I could make easily a 4-5 hour video in a night with the camera battery, but because of the freezing weather, the battery died after about 2 hours. That’s why the time lapse video is a bit shorter than usually. But nevertheless, I’m happy with it, and actually I was also able to make a nice star trail photo of the material I was able to collect in that time. And also the northern lights appeared, but they were very shy and modest, and I actually noticed them only when watching the photos at my computer.

The night was amazing, even though it was freezing, it was so beautiful! All kinds of sounds coming from the ice were creating magical feeling to the night!

Below you can see my results from that night:

Night sky time lapse video shoot on the frozen Lake Sääksjärvi, Finland, in the evening of 4th of December 2021
Star trails over frozen Lake Sääksjärvi
Faint and Modest belt of aurora borealis appeared during the night, visible at very low altitude in the horizon

Night sky time lapse video shot in Finland 10/11.9.2021

The annual deep sky meeting of Finnish amateur astronomers was organized again at Tähtikallio Observatory, in Orimattila, Finland in the weekend between 10th and 12th of September 2021. This time number of participants was a lot smaller than usually, because of the current world situation, but anyway it was fun and enjoyable event!

We were able to do some stargazing and photography during the early hours of the first night of the event until around midnight when clouds obscured the view of the sky. I set my camera to shoot a time lapse video, I shot the video with Canon EOS 1100D camera and Samyang 8 mm fish eye -lens @f/3.5. Exposure time was 25 seconds, interval between the photos was 5 seconds. ISO -value was 3200. I let the camera shoot for 5 hours. This time I made the video from the photos with Kdenlive -open source video editing software on Ubuntu Linux.

You can see my video here:

Here you can see a single frame from the video showing Milky way before clouds ruined the night:

Night of epic thunderstorms

In the night between 14th and 15th of August 2021, there was an epic thunder storm going on in southern and western Finland! I was observing the thunderstorm with Pirjo Koski (Taivaantulien tyttö) and Riku Poskiparta in Laitila, southwestern Finland.

First lightnings appeared already before 11 PM and the lightning activity was very strong during the night until 4pm when we finally went sleeping after hectic night of stormspotting.

The thunder cells were not very close as we heard thunder only couple of times. There were active storm cells in east and west but none of the came straight at us, but we got some showers but they didn’t last too long fortunately.

It was an epic night, such that don’t happen too often! Here are some of my best shots from this thunderstorm:

I also tried to record some video footage of the distant lightnings, you can see it here:

Celest1al Sphere Youtube -channel

Hello People! I have decided to start a Youtube -channel for Celest1al Sphere -blog. I have uploaded my time lapse videos to the channel, and now I also uploaded a recent thunderstorm video.

I’m going to use the channel as a storage for my astronomy -related video content, there will be time lapse videos about night sky, Milky way, northern lights etc. You will also find all other videos about this hobby in my channel

You are very welcome to visit the Youtube channel of this blog here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ4yosbp198Di_56DP8WgLA/featured

Restoration of a TAL-1 -telescope

Background and my history with TAL-1 -telescopes

TAL-1 is a well-known Russian amateur astronomer telescope at least here in Finland. They used to be popular among beginners in 1990’s and 2000’s, in the 1980’s the telescope was known as Mizar. Finnish Astronomical Association Ursa was importing and selling these telescopes in 1990’s and early 2000’s here in Finland.

Back in the day, TAL-1 was the first telescope of many beginner amateur astronomers, including me. I got my first telescope around Christmas in 1998, and that telescope was TAL-1 purchased via Ursa. I was using that telescope until 2008, when I sold it to another beginner amateur astronomer.

TAL-1 -telescopes are still being manufactured by NPZ (Novosibirsk Instrument-Making Plant) in Russia. They have earned a reputation of well-made and robust telescopes with quality optics.

My original TAL-1 -telescope that I had from 1998 to 2008

Re-buying TAL-1

In summer of 2020 I was scrolling through sales ads in tori.fi (a Finnish online second hand marketplace), and I stumbled upon a sales ad of TAL-1 -telescope in Helsinki. This brought memories back to my mind about my first TAL-1 -telescope that I used to have in late 90’s and 00’s. I decided to drive to Helsinki and buy that TAL-1 that was being sold. So I purchased that TAL-1 and I noticed that time had left it’s marks on the telescope. There were some stains on the paint and the paint surface had been locally damaged and it was flaking off.

This TAL-1 was manufactured in 1996 and so it was a bit older than the one I used to have. This one has some Russian standard -focuser, it is not the current standard focuser with 1 1/4” eyepieces. This telescope was equipped with it’s own eyepieces: 15 mm, 25 mm and 3 x barlow -lens. Besides this, there were also corsshairs -piece to be used as a tracking tool with astrophotography. Motorized tracking is not possible with this telescope, but with rough polar alignment it could be used for astrophotography with camera optics by attaching a camera to the threaded counterweight -bar of the telescope. Unfortunately the camera adapter is not very good at keeping the camera steadily at it’s place and so it is pretty much useless. Besides this, there were also some color filters for planetary and lunar -observing with the telescope. Originally there was also a solar projection plate with the telescope, but it had been lost during the years with the original owner.

These TAL-1 -telescopes feel much more unique and not so mass produced as modern made-in-China -telescopes that dominate especially beginner market segment. One of the reasons for that is the fact that every produced telescope was equipped with a plate stating the serial number and manufacturing year. Serial number and manufacturing year is also stated in the “acceptance certificate” -page of the manual that came with the telescope. Luckily the previous owner of this telescope had saved this manual! This telescope has serial number 1664 and it was manufactured in year 1996.

Here are some photos of my “new” TAL-1 -telescope:

Nevertheless, I made a solar filter from Astrosolar -foil for the telescope in order to make some sunspot observing. I was making some sunspot observations in late summer of 2020. In late March of 2021 I started to make again sunspot observations and I’m going to do those observations until Autumn of this year.

Restoration of the TAL-1 -telescope

Immediately after purchasing the TAL-1 -telescope, I was thinking about restoring it to it’s original condition. The only problem was that I didn’t have a proper place like garage where to do the restoration work. The telescope was waiting until July of 2021. Then I finally decided that I’m going to do the restoration work. I asked for permission to use the garage of my girlfriend’s parents and luckily they gave their permission for the project.

I was considering different painting options, but ended up painting the telescope with spray paint. Before painting, I was grinding the old paint layer off so that the new paint could have been sprayed on the top of old paint. Unfortunately that didn’t work because the old layer of paint was still flaking off under the new paint layer. So I had to grind all old paint off. Originally I had planned to save that solar warning sticker but it turned out to be impossible. Then after grinding all old paint off, I had a clean aluminium surface of the TAL-1. Then painted the aluminium surface with primer paint, and then I painted it with suitable white spray paint and let it dry.

Then the telescope was restored, and I’m pretty happy with the results! The white painted surface of the telescope is now in good conditions and it can now be used for any astronomical observing!

Here are some photos of the ready telescope:

Here are some sources for more information about TAL-1 -telescopes:

Best display of NLC’s in this summer so far

Noctilucent clouds
Observed NLC forms:

  • Bands
  • Waves
  • Veil
  • Whirls

Date: 20./21.7.2021
Time: 20:45-00:30 UT
Observing place: Ulvila, Finland
Technical information about photographing equipment: Canon EOS 1100D, Samyang 8 mm fish eye -lens
Observing conditions: Clear sky, good conditions

Best display of noctilucent clouds so far this summer was observed last night in the sky of Ulvila. Noctilucent clouds covered practically 100% of the area of the sky, only the shadow of Earth was limiting the NLC’s in southern horizon. I was photographing the NLC’s last night by myself, but the NLC’s were also captured by Karhukamera in Ulvila observatory.

Below you can see some photos from last night, 4 first images are taken by me, 5th photo is taken by Karhukamera. Camera set-up of Karhukamera has been upgraded this summer by addition of second camera, which is a videocamera, last photo is a capture from videostream of the second camera. I’m going to write about that second camera more in near future!