Noctilucent clouds, SQM -measurements, Jupiter and variable stars

Observing session #3/11-12

During couple of last nights I was making some observations. During the night 29/30.7.2011 I was making observations in Turku. First at 01.00 I checked the NLCs from the Kerttulinmäki -hil, and indeed there was a small display going on in the northern sky. The display was restricted to small area in the northern sky and the maximum height of the display was 20 degrees. I also made measurements with SQM, and I got readings of about 17,68. NELM was about 4.0.

Then later that night I went into Kupittaanpuisto park to see, whether it is possible to do any observations from there. I noted, that it is possible to do some observations, although the place is very light polluted. Besides planetary- and lunar observations, it is possible to do observations of variable stars and of the brightest DSOs.

In Kupittaanpuisto, I was watching Jupiter and I also made my very first observation of a variable star! The star of my choice was R Cyg, which was shining with magnitude of about 10. While observing, I faced some difficulties. First of all, the sky was still very light, and there was also some light pollution in the area. Also there were some drunken people walking in the park once in a while which was causing some interference. And I also had printed accidentally wrong kind of maps for R Cyg, which was also a small problem. But anyway, I was able to make the observation!

Summary of obs session #3/11-12
Date: 29/30.7.2011
Time: 01.00-03.30
Place: Turku, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm, naked eye
Objects observed: Jupiter, R Cyg, NLCs
Conditions: NELM: 4.0, SQM: 17.78, partly cloudy, light sky, warm air

Observing session #4/11-12

The observing session of last night (30./31.7.2011) was clearly more successful. This time I went into my favourite dark sky -observing place in Parainen, in the Archipelago of Turku. This time there was some butterfly -collector with his light trap, which was causing some point -type light pollution. Actually I saw the same guy once also in august of 2009. Luckily I was able to hide his light when I went into the sandpit in my observing place and it it wasn’t causing any interference.

Also during the last night, there was a beautiful NLC display at low altitude in the northern sky. This time the display was quite bright, and it was there during the whole night.

Then I also made some observations of the observing conditions. At 01.40, when the night was as dark as it gets, I was getting readings of 18.84 and I estimated that the NELM was about 5.0. During the darkest moment of the night, the altitude of the Sun was about -11, and thus it was still only nautical twilight. But still, it was dark enaugh to start doing some observations. This time I was also making observations of NLCs, variable stars and Jupiter.

The stars that I observed this time were R Cyg, R CrB and Z And. I re-observed R Cyg because the last time when I tried to observe it there were so much difficulties and interfernce that I wanted to be sure about my observation was correct. I was able to make only negative observation of R CrB, because it was fainter than 11.9, which means that it is now at least near its minimum!

Noctilucent clouds in the sky of Parainen, 30./31.7.2011

Summary of obs session #4/11-12
Date: 30/31.7.2011
Time: 00.20-03.30
Place: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm, naked eye
Objects observed: Jupiter, R Cyg,R CrB, Z And, NLCs
Conditions: NELM: 5.0, SQM: 18.82, clear, light sky, +14 C

This time there will be no pics, but I will add them later!


Noctilucent clouds 26./27.7.2011

Observed phenomena: Noctilucent clouds
Observed NLC forms:

I (Veil)
IIb (Bands with sharply defined edged)
IIIa (Short, straight and narrow streaks)
IVa: Whirls with small angular radius (0.1 – 0.5 degrees)
IVb (Simple curve(s) with angular radius of 3 – 5 degrees)

Brightness of the NLCs: 3 (clearly visible, standing out sharply against the twilight sky)
Colour of the NLCs: pale blue
Areal extent of the NLCs: 1/4 of the sky

Date: 26./27.7.2011
Time: 02:10-04:00
Observing place: Turku, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Olympus mu 1030 SW

A fine display of noctilucent clouds was visible in the sky of Turku, Finland in the night between 26th and 27th of July 2011. I was observing the NLC’s on the top of the Kerttulinmäki -hill, located in the I District of the city, close to the downtown. This display was dominated by veil and belts. Also some whirls were visible. In this display, the NLC’s had a moderate brightness, and they covered about quarter of the sky in the northern sector of the sky.

Noctilucent clouds were glowing in the sky of Turku in 25./26.7.2011

Noctilucent clouds in the sky of Turku

Observing session #2/11-12

In the night between 25./26.7.2011 there was a notable noctilucent cloud display visible in the sky of Turku. My observing place was Kerttulinmäki -hill near the downtown of Turku. I was making observations of this display in 02.00-02.15. During that time, the clouds were glowing in the northern sky, where their highest altitude was about 30 degrees. The clouds were very bright and they had a typical blueish colour. The display was mostly consisted of horizontal bands.

The night sky has already got quite dark now in late July. When I was making observations of NLCs I also made measurements with SQM -meter. I got readings of 17, which means that the sky is still quite light but not anymore as light as it is during the midsummer.

Also I was watching The Moon and Jupiter with my 102/1000mm Celestron in Kupittaanpuisto -park. This was my first time, when I was watching any celestial objects under this dark skies. Particularly I was watching the Jupiter and The Moon to check the amount of chromatic aberration in my scope. With The Moon, I didn’t see practically any signs of chromatic aberration, but there was a notable blue glow as a sign of chromatic aberration around Jupiter. But this blue glow wasn’t intefering too much, and I think it might be possible to cut it down with some suitable fringe killer -filter.

Summary of obs session #2/11-12
Date: 25/26.7.2011
Time: 02.10-04.00
Place: Turku, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm, naked eye
Objects observed: Jupiter, The Moon, NLCs
Conditions: NELM: 4.0, SQM: 17.03, partly cloudy, light sky, warm air

Noctilucent clouds were glowing in the sky of Turku in 25./26.7.2011

Report from the Cygnus -meeting of Ursa 21.-24.7.2011

The traditional summer meeting of the amateur astronomical association Ursa was organized in 21.-24.7.2011 in small town of Jokioinen, in Kanta-Häme region, Southern Finland. The event place was slightly different than usually, because now we were in the middle of agricultural landscape very close to the center of Jokioinen town. Usually the Cygnus -meeting has been held near a lake in some camping place. The meeting place now was in the facilities of the MTT, the agricultural research center of Finland.

A building called Tapulimakasiini in the event place

This Cygnus -meeting was organized little bit in hurry, because we weren’t able to organize the meeting in the original planned place because of extremely high prices and lack of access to certain important facilities. But considering the tight schedule, the Cygnus -meeting in Jokioinen was very succesfull! The amount of people attending and visiting the meeting was around 115, which was slighty less than usually.

The program was consisted of lectures, presentations and demonstrations. A new element in the program were so-called “lightning-talk” -sessions and a guided hobby section -demonstration tour, where people were touring from point to point where section active members were demonstrating some activities related to their hobby section. For example, me and the assistant leader of the deep sky section Linda Laakso were demonstrating how to build a cheap but safe solar filter from Astrosolar -film.

Ismo Elo giving a lecture about Kaali -meteor impact crater in Estonia

In Saturday, we were visiting the observing station of the Finnish Meteorological Institute in town of Jokioinen. There we were able to see launching a weather sounding balloon and we were given a small presentation of the facilities by the leader of the observing station.

Weather instrument shelters at Jokioinen observing station

During the event, we were able to see several times beautiful cumulonimbus clouds and special clouds related to them. Also wonderful displays of noctilucent clouds were visible, especially during the night between Thorsday and Friday. At times it was also raining and thundering! The weather was nevertheless favourable, it was very warm and sunny during most of the time during the meeting!

The veil of cumulonimbus with mammatus clouds

We were also able to meet many old and new hobby friends, and all in all, the meeting was very inspirating and interesting! Big thank you to all of you, who made this meeting as good as it was!

And then some action photos from the meeting:

Observing the Sun
People were grilling sausages around the camp fire
Freezing marshmellows with liquid nitrogen, those physicians are always trying something new and crazy!


I was also starting my observing season in Cygnus. During the night 22./23.7.2011 I was making observations of the Moon, Jupiter and of Messier 29. Or actually I wasn’t exactly making any observations of those objects but rather watching them for fun! But nevertheless I made some real observations of the observing conditions that night. I estimated that the NELM was about 4.0 and SQM was 16.82 in the zenith.

Summary of obs session #1/11-12
Date: 22/23.7.2011
Time: 01.35-02.00
Place: Jokioinen, Finland
Instruments used: L102/1000mm, naked eye
Objects observed: Jupiter, The Moon, Messier 29
Conditions: NELM: 4.0, SQM: 16.82, clear sky, light sky, warm air, 53% Moon in the east at altitude of 15°

Sunspots June 2011

In June, I spent most of my time in municipality of Kuusamo, in NE Finland, where my observing site was a famous holiday resort, Ruka. Nevertheless, I wasn’t having a holiday there but working! Anyway, scenary was absolutely stunning and beautiful and it was almost just like having a holiday!

In June, I got many chanches of making observations of sunspots. Actually, in June I was able to make in total 18 observations, best amount of observations so far during this year!

In very early June, solar activity was high, and the Wolf’s number was over 100 for couple of days. And then to mid June, Wolf’s number was going down, and it fell under 20 for couple of days, but then it went again up to 40 around mid June. Around Midsummer festival I wasn’t able to make observations, but during the two last days of June, Wolf’s number was slightly over 30.

Here you can see the summary of my observations in June as a table:

And as a graph:

With sunny greetings,