Cygnus -meeting 17.-19.7.2015

The traditional Cygnus -summer convention of Finnish amateur astronomers was this year organized in Ylöjärvi, near Tampere, Finland by local amateur astronomy association Tampereen Ursa (astronomical association Ursa of Tampere). The event site was located by Lake Näsijärvi, which is one of the largest lakes in Finland!

The programme of the meeting was quite traditional: it consisted of lectures, smaller group meetings and some freetime socializing by campfire and of course bathing in Sauna! This year the excursion organized during the meeting was to the Amusement park/planetarium of Särkänniemi in Tampere. There we were watching a show about all kinds of violent events in the Universe! Another excursion after the meeting was organized to the observatory of Ursa of Tampere in Kauppi district, Tampere. The observatory is located on the top of the water tower of Tampere. The horizon is pretty much open in there, but the lights of Tampere city are causing quite nasty light pollution problem.

Weather during the meeting was quite variable: it was raining during every day of the meeting, but still we were able to do all kinds of observations, mostly of atmospheric phenomenae like halos, rainbows and noctilucent clouds.

During this meeting also a photography contest was organized! I also participated in the contest with two photos, but they weren’t very succesfull this time. The quality of the contest was really exceptional!

There was also one a bit sad thing in the programme: one of our colleagues, Marja Wallin has passed away after long struggle with cancer in June this year. At the moment of her death, she was only 38! Absolutely too young to pass away! During the meeting we having some time remembering her and her activities and contributions to the community of Finnish amateur astronomers. Marja was so happy and strong person also in the middle of the struggles, and she participated to the hobby activities until the very end! Rest in peace Marja, we will be missing you!

The amount of participants was about 130, which has been quite typical number during past years! I think the event was mostly very succesfull, and I had really good time there with my astronomy friends and colleagues!

Photos from the event:

Photos: Juha Ojanperä


Meeting of Finnish atmospheric optics -enthusiasts

The Finnish atmospheric optics -enthusiasts gathered to the traditional annual meeting in the weekend between 5th and 7th of June 2015. The meeting was organized at The Tähtikallio observatory center of Ursa astronomical association in Artjärvi, Southern Finland.

The meeting was organized in very relaxed manner, and the programme was flexible. All the presentations were organized in saturday. During the meeting, following presentations were given:

  • An overview to the Halo April 2015 -observing campaign (Juha Ojanperä)
  • About observing and distinguishing different kinds of crepescular rays (Veikko Mäkelä)
  • About the new version of HaloStack -stacking program (Panu Lahtinen)
  • About the new kind of co-operation programme between Finnish meteorological institute and stormchasers of Finland and about the space weather monitoring in FMI (Matias Takala)
  • Taivaanvahti (observation database of Ursa a.a.) update (Emma Herranen)
  • About the 3rd and 4th order rainbow observations in Finland (Juha Ojanperä, Linda Laakso)

This year the programme of the meeting was including also storms and stormchasing and also spaceweather and aurorae and not just atmospheric optics.

The amount of participants was 14, 4 people cancelled their participation. The number of participants this year was 5 less than year ago.

During the meeting, we were also able to observe all kinds of atmospheric optical phenomena like pollen coronae and noctilucent clouds.

Photos from the meeting:

Photos: Juha Ojanperä

Cygnus -summer meeting of Finnish amateur astronomers was organized in Mäntsälä 17.-20.7.2014

The traditional Cygnus -summer meeting of Finnish amateur astronomers was organized in Mäntsälä, Southern Finland. The event place was a camping site of the local Parish, called Leiriniemi. The place is located in the shores of a small lake called Keravanjärvi. The number of participants was about 120, which has been quite typical number during recent years.

The programme of the event consisted of lectures and workshops. Also a museum visit to home site museum of A.E. Nordenskiöld was included in programme. A.E. Nordenskiöld was an explorer, cartographer, mineralogist and geologist born and raised in Finland. Nordenskiöld was the first man to navigate through the Northeast passage. One of the most anticipated lectures was the 3rd part of the lecture series about the Moon race during the Cold war given by Hannu Määttänen. Other popular and interesting lectures were the lecture given by Arto Oksanen about the spectropolarimetry -observations of T Pyx in VLT, Chile and the lecture given by FMI researcher Harri Haukka about the Rosetta -comet exploration mission. Outside the formal programme, we were having sauna and having some good time with other fellow amateur astronomers and friends. The event ended in the excursion to Tähtikallio observatory in Artjärvi, only 60km from the event site.

Weather during the event was mostly warm and sunny, except few isolated showers. We also were able to observe some thunderstorms during the event. Noctilucent clouds were observed only during the first night of the event.

More photos here.

Atmospheric optics meeting 2014 was successful well beyond expectations

Finnish atmospheric optics -enhusiasts gathered to Tähtikallio observatory center in Artjärvi, Southern Finland between 6th and 8th of June. The numer of participants was 19, which is 4 more than last year and 6 more than two years ago! Some of the participants came from as far as Oulu, which is a city 500 km away from the Tähtikallio observatory center! Also surprisingly many new participants had arrived to the event, which is a fact I’m very delighted to state!

The programme of the meeting was very flexible. We started when all the participants had arrived to the site in saturday afternoon. The meeting started with my review of the Halo April 2014 -observing campaign. After that, Marko Mikkilä from Nivala talked about his recent halo discovery, 32° arc. Besides this, he also showed his amazing pictures of the mega-scale halo display of 14th of May 2014. After the presentations given by Marko Mikkilä, another Marko, Marko Pekkola talked about current issues of the Taivaanvahti -observation database of Ursa astronomical association. After this short session, Veikko Mäkelä held a workshop -like session about observing noctilucent clouds. The grand finale of the meeting was again the great photo show, where participants could show their best photos of atmospherical phenomena from recent year.

Besides the formal programme, we also had sauna and barbequed some sausages at the campfire in the evening. We also tried to observe noctilucent clouds, but we didn’t see any. Weather was fine during the event, there were though some random showers and we heard thunder rumbling once.

Here are some photos from the event:

All photos © Juha Ojanperä.

Deep sky -meeting 6.-8.9.2013

Group photo of the Deep sky -meeting 2013 (not all participants present). Photo: Juha Ojanperä

The deep sky -observers of Finland gathered again to the annual Deep sky -meeting to the Tähtikallio Observatory, Artjärvi. The meeting was organized in early September, in the weekend 6.-8.9.2013. The total number of participants was about 30. During the meeting, we heard many interesting lectures about different topics, for example Veikko Mäkelä gave a presentation about the revision project of the Messier objects -observing guide book.

We were blessed with clear skies during both nights of the event, and all of the telescopes of Tähtikallio Observatory were in active use during the whole event! Besides the fixed telescopes of the observatory, also a transportable 25” (63 cm) Obsession telescope was there on the event site, and at least Iiro Sairanen was making some observing with it. Both visual- and photographic observations were made. For example, I observed following objects with the gigantic 36” Astrofox telescope of Tähtikallio observatory: IC 1296, Parsamian 21, Abell 4 and NGC 4319 & Markarian 205.


First night: 6.-7.9.2013

During the first night of the event, we were observing visually together with Riku Henriksson and Marko Tuhkunen with the 36” Astrofox -telescope.

IC 1296


IC 1296 is a small and faint spiral galaxy only 4′ NW of Messier 57, and it is overlooked by many. This galaxy appears as an elongated, fuzzy nebula with almost stellar core. The long axis of this galaxy is oriented in SW-NE -direction, so this galaxy is oriented in similar way than Messier 57. With averted vision, it is possible to see hints of spiral structure in the NW and SE sides of the galaxy.

Parsamian 21


Parsamian 21 is a small reflection nebula in the constellation of Aquila. There aren’t many visual observations of this object in the whole world yet, and with Riku Henriksson, we propably made the first visual observations of this object in Europe, or even the whole world!

This small reflection nebula was relatively easy to see visually with this instrument. The object has a really comet-like appearance! The nebula has a tail pointing northwards roughly to position angle 360°. The star lighting-up this nebula is embedded within the ‘head’ of the nebula. The star itself wasn’t visible visually.

Abell 4


Abell 4 is a small planetary nebula in Perseus, only about 40′ east of Messier 34. With OIII -filter, this planetary nebula was visible as a round, featureless disk. With the filter, the nebula was easy to see. The central star wasn’t visible.

Second night: 7.-8.9.2013

During the second night, I was observing visually with Marko Tuhkunen with the Astrofox -telescope. During the first couple of hours of the night, we were giving a star show for a group of visitors, who haven’t ever been observing with a telescope like this! During this star show, we observed for example Messier 57, Messier 51, NGC 7009 and planet Uranus. All the objects we watched were absolutely stunning and awesome when seen through a telescope of this size! The visitors were also happy to see the celestial objects with this unusually large instrument! After the visitors had left, we were doing some group observing with the participants. For example, we viewed galaxy NGC NGC 4319 & quasar Markarian 205 and also many other ‘eye-candy’ objects. NGC 4319 & Markarian 205 was the only object that I could properly observe and sketch.

NGC 4319 & Markarian 205

juoja_ngc_4319 & markarian 205

NGC 4319 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Draco, Markarian 205 is a quasar just 1′ south of the galaxy. The distance of the galaxy is about 70 million light years, whereas the quasar is much more further away, the distance of it is about 1 billion light years! NGC 4319 was visible as an oval-shaped nebula with bright, stellar core. The long axis of the galaxy is oriented in NW-SW -direction. The visual size of the galaxy is roughly 2´x1´. In the NW and SE edges of the galaxy, hints of the spiral structure can be seen. The quasar Markarian 205 was visible as a star-like object 1′ south of the core of NGC 4319. The brightness of the quasar is roughly 15 magnitudes.

Atmospheric Optics -meeting was organized in stormy weather

Meeting of the Finnish atmospheric optics -observers was organized in 17.-19.5.2013 at the Tähtikallio Observatory Center in Artjärvi, Southern Finland. The amount of the participants was little bit higher than in the last year’s meeting. This year in total 15 atmospheric optics -enthusiasts participated the meeting.

The meeting started already on Friday, but the programme really started-up on Saturday. On saturday, we heard many interesting lectures. For example, the topics included:

  • Demonstration of the new version of Halo Stack software by Panu Lahtinen
  • Results of the Halo April -observing campaign (Juha Ojanperä)
  • Instructions and hints for observing noctilucent clouds (Veikko Mäkelä)
  • About HDR -teqhnicue in photographing atmospherical phenomena (Juha Ojanperä)
  • The pilot project of reorganizing the section web pages (Veikko Mäkelä)
  • Current issues on Taivaanvahti -online observation database (Marko Pekkola)

Besides this formally organized programme, we got a chance to observe the first really good thunderstorm this summer in the night between Saturday and Sunday! The thunderstorm appeared just like on order to the meeting!

EuroVS -meeting 2013 was organized in Helsinki, Finland

The participants of EuroVS 2013 -meeting. Juha Ojanperä behind the camera. Photo:  © Juha Ojanperä
The participants of EuroVS 2013 -meeting. Juha Ojanperä behind the camera. Photo: © Juha Ojanperä

The EuroVS 2013 -meeting was organized in Helsinki, Finland 26.-28.4.2013. The number of participants was much lower than expected, but the atmosphere of the meeting was warm and excited! In total 9 participants were on site and 2 persons attended via internet.

In the meeting, we heard many interesting lectures, for example about the history of Variable star observing in Finland and about the new online database of the BAA.VSS. Besides the on-site -presentations, we heard also two lectures via internet from USA. The venue -site was the old Helsinki observatory, which is now home to Ursa Astronomical Association and the Helsinki Observatory Museum.

On saturday, we visited The Suomenlinna -fortress island, just 15 minutes from the City via ferry. On the island, we also had a dinner in the Suomenlinna Brewery Restaurant.

More photos here!