Observing 15./16.8.2015

Date: 15./16.8.2015
Time: 23:30-03:30
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: N250/1200 mm (10” refractor)

NELM: 6.0
SQM: 20.8
Darkness of the background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: –
Weather: Clear sky, warm, calm, noctilucent clouds and northern lights at low altitude in northern sky

Objects observed: NGC 6751, NGC 6755, NGC 6910

Summer 2015 has been mostly extremely rainy, cold and miserable, except for August! In August we had an unique chance to enjoy the most beautiful and warm weather during the days and clear skies (without the Moon!) during the nights as long as for two weeks in a row! During this period of nice weather, I went out observing as much as I could!

During the between 15th and 16th of August I drove again in long time to my dark sky -observing site in Parainen, about 20 km south of Turku. When I arrived at the place, I immediately noticed something unexpected in the northern sky, northern lights! In August! And the sky wasn’t even properly dark yet! I had come to this place for visual deep sky observing, but I had to change the plan because of this unexpected sight! I started to take photos of the aurorae, and later I was able to witness even more unexpected sight – noctilucent clouds appeared in the northern sky at low altitude! Northern lights and noctilucent clouds, together in the sky! I cannot remember that I would have observed these phenomenae together in the sky ever before!

The observing place is a large, open sand pit, and during the days it is being used as a motocross -track. Nearby is also a holiday resort/restaurant, rental cabins and a harbour for small boats. The only source of light pollution is the city of Turku, which makes a light pollution dome in the northern sky. Otherwise the sky is pretty dark. Usually there are now local light pollution sources – except for this time! There was some insect collector with his light trap in the southern edge of the sand pit! Luckily the light beam of his light trap was aimed so that it didin’t cause any trouble to me! Also there was some local noise pollution as there was party group playing loud music and making noises nearby in some of the rental cabins.

Nevertheless, I was also able to do some visual deep sky observing – which was my original reason to come to this place! During the night I observed three objects, which were: NGC 6751, NGC 6755 and NGC 6910.

Here are my notes about these objects:

NGC 6751

NGC 6751 is a small planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquila.

Here are my notes of my observation: @80x: small and faint disk, a little bit elongated, long axis in NW-SE -direction. OIII makes the object visible a little bit better.

NGC 6751 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 6751 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 6755

NGC 6755 is an open cluster in the constellation of Aquila.

Here are my notes of my observation: @80x: faint, rather small, scattered cluster, not concentrated. The stars are in 3-4 clumps, center of the cluster seems to be empty. There is a glow in the background of the starclumps.

NGC 6755 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 6755 observed with 10” Newton

NGC 6910

NGC 6910 is an open cluster in the constellation of Cygnus.

Here are my notes of my observation: @160x: a small, compact, concentrated cluster. Most of the stars 7-10 magnitudes, relatively poor. The starsof the cluster are in a shape of an arc which is opening to NE. Near Gamma Cygni.

NGC 6910 observed with 10'' Newton
NGC 6910 observed with 10” Newton

***

All in all, the night was very good! The sky was already considerably dark (NELM 6.0, SQM 20.8), it was dry and warm, obsrving was very pleasent! And also the aurorae and noctilucent clouds were just added bonus to the night!

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Wonderful display of northern lights 17./18.3.2015

Observed phenomena: Aurora borealis
Date: 17./18.3.2015
Time: 17:25-21:00 UT
Observing place: Kuusamo, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Samyang 8mm fish eye
Observing conditions: Clear sky, no Moon
Observed aurora forms:

  • Veil
  • Belt
  • Rays
  • Corona

Couple of days ago a massive eruption happened in the Sun in massive sunspot group AR 2297. The particles ejected by the eruption reached Earth early in the morning (Finnish time) in 17th of March. The particles launched a massive geomagnetic storm all over the planet. The storm generated very colourful and stunning northern lights all over the Northern hemisphere, and Finland was no exception. I was observing this magnificent natural light show in Kuusamo, Northeastern Finland. In Kuusamo, northern lights appeared in the sky already at 17.25 UT when the sky wasn’t even properly dark yet! During the night, I observed two different substorms with really bright and active northern lights! The display was at least as good as the one that I observed in March of 2013 in Turku, Finland.

Aurora borealis and thoughts about November

Northern lights were dancing over lake Kuusamo 7.-8.11.2014
Northern lights were dancing over lake Kuusamo 7.-8.11.2014

In ten days ago (7.-8.11.2014), I observed nice northern lights in Kuusamo town. Weather was quite crispy during the night, temperature was about -15 degrees below zero! Sky wasn’t very dark during my observing session, almost full Moon was shining in the sky, and also the lights of the town were interfering the show of the northern lights.

Now I have spent two and half months here in Kuusamo! During this time an idea about starting up a northern lights tour -company has been growing in my mind! So far there hasn’t been any such companies in this region, and this place is a hot spot of winter tourism, and northern lights are one attracting factor in this region! So there could be demand for such activities as northern ligths viewing and photography tours in this region!

This winter has so far been an ‘on-off’ winter, there has been colder periods with snow and cold weather, but then it has been raining and all snow has melted away, and temperature has been several degrees above zero! Right now temperature is couple of degrees below zero, and it’s snowing! And there is now some snow on the ground too! So perhaps the winter is finally coming to Kuusamo now!

Northern lights 14./15.10.2014

Last night there was a wonderful display of northern lights that was observed all over Finland! I was observing this natural display in Kuusamo, Northeastern Finland. It’s already winter here in Kuusamo, we have about 5 cm of snow on the ground and temperature was 10 degrees below zero! So the weathe was a bit freezing, but the display was totally amazing!

New location and Northern lights 31.8./1.9.2014

I have changed my geographical location for the next six months. I’ll be dwelling in Kuusamo, Northeastern Finland. This place is a really remote wilderness area, from here it’s 50 km to the Kuusamo town center, but only ~30 km to the Northern Arctic Circle and only 14 km to the Russian border! And thanks to the remote location, there’s no light pollution, and there are good opportunities for astronomical observing and for photographing northern lights! I came here studying to become a wilderness guide! It means a new phase in my life, and quite a big career shift, but this feels right thing to do now! I arrived here three days ago, and already during the first night (31.8.-1.9.) of my time here I was greeted with this magnificent display of northern lights:

Aurora borealis 17.1.2013

Observed phenomena: Aurora borealis
Date: 17.1.2013
Time: 20:30-21:15
Observing place: Kuru, Ylöjärvi, Finland
Observing method: Photography
Technical information about photographing equipment: Camera: Canon EOS 1100D, lens: Samyang 8mm fish eye, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS
Observing conditions: Clear sky, 38% Moon in SW sky, calm, -21 °C

Last night a coronal mass ejection from the Sun hit the Earth, and that lit up the first northern lights of this year (at least for me)! I went to my observing place near the village of Länsi-Aure, Kuru, Finland to see, whether it is possible to drive there in winter or not. But when I arrived at the site, I was positively surprised to see, that the road to the site was open, and it is possible to drive there!

So, then I arrived at the observing site. First there was only a quiet aurora arc in the northern sky, but soon some rays started to develop in the arc, some of them intensively red! Soon the arc had turned into a relatively active aurora belt.

It was nice to see aurora flaming in the sky again, but this time the weather was rather cold, and after documenting the aurorae for an hour, I decided to go back inside to enjoy some hot chocolate and to have a look on the photos on the screen of my laptop.