Nice halo display in the sky of Turku

Observed phenomena: Halo phenomena
Light source: Sun
Origin: High clouds (cirrostratus)
Observed halo forms:

  • 22° halo
  • Upper tangent arc
  • Parhelia
  • Parhelic circle
  • Circumzenithal arc
  • Upper suncave Parry arc

Date: 20.3.2013
Time: 13:00-15:00
Observing place: Turku, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS, Samyang 8mm fish eye

Description: I was lucky to observe a nice halo display in the sky of Turku in 20th of March 2013. In this display, many halo forms were present, but the most delightful of them was a relatively rare  Upper suncave Parry arc. This was the second time in my life to observe this halo form!

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Wonderful aurora display and comet PanSTARRS

Observed phenomena: Aurora borealis
Date: 17./18.3.2013
Time: 13:00-15:00
Observing place: Turku, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS, Samyang 8mm fish eye
Observing conditions: Clear sky, 32% Moon in southern sky, light pollution

Description: this time we decided to go to observe the comet PanSTARRS with Linda to the top of Luolavuori -hill (height 65m/213ft) in southern Turku. The hill is situated in the sub-urban area, and thus the sky is light-polluted. The positive thing about this place is the fact, that the horizon is totally open to all directions from top of the hill! The downside of this is, that you have to carry your observing equipment all the way to the top of the hill..

This is a new place to me, and I haven’t been making any observing here before. It means, that there are no marker points in the horizon to help me to locate the comet, but I was finally able to find the comet about 20:00. Also some other people had gathered to the site to observe the comet. They were only casual skygazers, and they seemed to have no idea, about how/where to locate the comet. I started to look for the comet, and when I found it, I showed the comet to those people! They were really happy to see the comet!

I also took some photos of the comet with my Canon EOS 1100D and Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS. This time I didn’t have time to make a proper observation about the comet, because of the intensive aurora storm and because of the public nature of this observing session.

About the same time than I was looking for the comet, bright aurora borealis started to flame around the sky! The aurora display started very quickly to become an aurora display of really great magnitude! I haven’t observed an aurora display like this in southern Finland since year 2003! In this display, all imaginable colours of the aurora were present, and especially red and blue were really intensive! We watched and photographed this wonderful natural display at least for an hour before going home..

Aurora borealis 17.3.2013

Comet PanSTARRS 17.3.2013

Observing comet PanSTARRS 15./16.3.2013

Date: 15./16.3.2013
Time: 19:00-21:00
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor), Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,44
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -15 °C, calm, light sky (nautical twilight)

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching, photography)

Also this time I started the engine of my car and headed to my observing site in Parainen, where this time I set up my telescope (L102/1000mm) to observe the comet! This time I found the comet at 19:28. The comet became visible with naked eye at 19:39. The comet disappeared behind the trees in horizon at 20:02. This time the time window for observing the comet was much longer, about 30 minutes!

This time I photographed the comet with Canon EOS 1100D through 102/1000mm refractor and with Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS -lens. Besides this, I made also a sketch of the comet.

With my 102/1000mm refractor, the coma of the comet appears to be very condensed, but not totally starlike. The tail of the comet appears to be rather long, the length of the tail is about 30′ (visually). The PA of the tail is roughly 50°. The sky was still pretty light during the observation (nautical twilight).

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) observed with 4'' Refractor at 2013/03/15
Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) observed with 4” Refractor at 2013/03/15

First observation of comet PanSTARRS!

Date: 14./15.3.3.2013
Time: 18:55-19:35
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: 7×18 binoculars

NELM: –
SQM: –
Darkness of the background sky: 5
Seeing: 3
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -15 °C, calm, light sky (nautical twilight)

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching)

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) is now visible also here in the high latitudes! In the evening of 14th of March, I went to my observing site in Parainen to observe the comet. I arrived at the site at 18:45 and started to browse the sky with my binoculars. I had no idea, where the comet would exactly be. After looking it for a while, I eventually found it at 19:36. At 19:42 I saw it also with naked eye! The comet disappeared behind the horizon at 19:53.

This was my very first time to observe this comet! When I found the comet, it was already at very low altitude close to horizon. This time the time window for observing the comet was very short, only 17 minutes before it disappeared below the trees in horizon. This time I observed the comet with my small 7×18 binoculars. With binoculars, I was able to see the star-like coma of the comet and a little bit of the tail. The tail is pointing approximately to PA 50°, and the length of the tail is visually ~20′. I was also able to see the comet as a faint “star” with naked eye.

The sky was still very light during my observation and the comet was at really low altitude, which made observing difficult. But the situation should get better later this month, when the comet is rising higher and it is visible for longer time.

Comet PanSTARRS observed with 7x18 binoculars
Comet PanSTARRS observed with 7×18 binoculars

Zodiacal light 10./11.3.2013

Observed phenomena: Zodiacal light
Date: 10./11.3.2013
Time: 21:00-23:20
Observing place: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Samyang 8mm fish eye

Description: during a deep sky –observing session, I was able to observe the zodiacal light again, but this time I was better equipped! I had a camera and tripod with me, and I was able to photograph the phenomena this time!

Also this time the light was visible in the NW sky as a faint, southwards tilted, diffuse glow of light that was following the line of the ecliptic. The light was best visible with averted vision and sweeping. The phenomena and observing conditions were similar than last time.

Deep sky observing in Parainen 10./11.3.2013

Date: 10./11.3.2013
Time: 21:00-23:20
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor)

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,91
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -19 °C, calm, snow on the ground, no Moon, no aurora, zodiacal light visible in NW sky

Objects observed: Messier 3 (visual, sketching)

This was my second trip to my observing place in Parainen now in March 2013! Also this time the zodiacal light was visible, and this time I was also able to photograph this phenomena! Also now the zodiacal light was visible in the NW sky as a faint, southwards tilted, diffuse glow of light that was following the line of the ecliptic. And just like last time, it was best visible with averted vision and sweeping. Winter Milky way was somewhat visible, and the conditions were pretty much the same than last time two nights ago.


Besides photographing this light scattered by interplanetary dust, I made also one deep sky -sketch. This time I observed Messier 3, a globular cluster in Canes Venatici. I made the observation with my 102/1000mm refractor (4” refractor).

Messier 3: with 102/1000mm refractor @67x this cluster appeared as a bright, round nebula. The brightness of the cluster increases inwards, and it seems to be well condensed and concentrated towards the center. The cluster is clearly granulated, and some individual stars can be resolved. @133x several individual stars can be seen.

Messier 3 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 3 observed with 4” Refractor

Deep sky sketching and zodiacal light 8./9.3.2013

Date: 8./9.3.2013
Time: 21:15-00:25
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: L102/1000mm (4” Refractor), N250/1200mm (10” Newton)

NELM: 6,0
SQM: 20,84
Darkness of the background sky: 3
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -12 °C, light wind, snow on the ground, no Moon, no aurora, zodiacal light in NW sky

Objects observed: Messier 53 (visual, sketching), NGC 2506(visual, sketching)

This was my first observing session in Parainen since September 2011! When I arrived at the site, I noticed that the winter Milky way in the Monoceros-Orion region was visible as well as it ever can be here in the conditions of Finland. Unfortunately winter is not so good time to make deep sky -observing in Finland because of cold temperature and snow, which is reflecting light in the sky. This can be observed with SQM, which gave values of ~20,8 around zenith. This is low value when compared with the good values in autumn, that can be as good as 21,2 in this site! NELM was barely 6,0 in Orion and about 5,7 in Ursa minor.

Besides Milky way and the ugly light pollution domes, I was able to see also another faint glow of light in the NW sky close to horizon. This light was rising from the horizon as a wedge -like glow of light that was following the line of ecliptic. This light was better visible with averted vision and sweeping. This light is better seen in the southern latitudes, but it can be seen also here in high latitudes around vernal- and autumnal equinox. This light is the zodiacal light! This was my second time to observe this phenomena from Finland. I observed this light for first time from the same site in March 2010. The zodiacal light can be seen almost every night in southern latitudes, but it is not common sight here in the high latitudes like Finland. The angle of the ecliptic is steepest around the time of the equinoxes, and that makes it possible to observe this phenomena!

Below you can see an excerpt with a sketch of the phenomena from my note book:

Zodiacal light observed 8.3.2013 in Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Zodiacal light observed 8.3.2013 in Stormälö, Parainen, Finland

This time I was making deep sky -observations with two of my telescopes: N250/1200mm (10” Newton)  and L102/1000mm (4” Refractor). This time I observed NGC 2506, an open cluster in southern Monoceros and Messier 53, a globular cluster in Coma Berenices.

I observed NGC 2506 (Caldwell 54) with my 250/1200mm Newton. With this instrument, this open cluster appeared as a small, relatively condensed and concentrated cluster. The brightness range of the stars of the cluster is rather large, some brighter stars are clearly visible, but the fainter stars appeared only as a starglow in the background of the cluster.

NGC 2506 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 2506 observed with 10” Newton

I observed Messier 53 with my both instruments. With 102/1000mm refractor @67x, this globular cluster appeared as a round, fuzzy nebula, whose brightness increases slightly inwards. No single stars were visible.

Messier 53 observed with 4'' Refractor
Messier 53 observed with 4” Refractor

With 250/1200mm newton @80x, the cluster appeared to be granulated, and few individul stars were resolved.

Messier 53 observe with 10'' Newton
Messier 53 observed with 10” Newton