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Updated November 18th 2017

Leonid Meteor Results - UPDATE

The annual Leonid meteor shower was due to peak on the 17th/18th however with cloud concerns for the main peak we decided to do a full watch 24 hours earlier on the 16th/17th as clear skies would be more plentiful. I met up with photographer Nigel McFarland on Glenshane Pass during the late evening and ventured out under clear skies to watch for Taurids, wait for the Leonid radiant to rise, and then we would pursue both streams. This would be a visual watch and a photographic patrol. The sky was dark and for the most part it was clear however at times we had mid level hazy cloud move in affecting the transparency however this always disintegrated so we had stars on view all night. The night turned cold and a keen frost formed during the early morning hours covering the forest trail and our kit bags. We had two cameras shooting side by side with the intention of capturing one or more meteors on camera, perhaps we would even be lucky enough to bag a fireball. Dew was our biggest enemy, every few minutes or lenses would mist over requiring a clean and as a result many frames were lost to the elements.

Meteor rates were very sedate, in total we observed 13 Taurids, 5 sporadics and 9 Leonids. The highlight was a Leonid fireball which burnt up in the W sky behind a blanket of cloud which lit up the cloud from within and cast shadows on the ground. Out of approximately 700 exposures taken I succeeded in catching one meteor on camera. This was a taurid which I did visually observe at the time peaking at mag +1.0 shooting through Canis Minor not far from the bright star Procyon. The first image is the full 10mm wide patrol image and the next is a tight crop showing the green colour of the Taurid.

The highlight was seeing the elusive Gegenschein located along the ecliptic between the Hyades and Pleiades and at its best when the Gegenschein was on the meridian and hence highest in the sky. The Gegenschein looked like an elongated haze lying parallel to the ecliptic and was very easy to observe. Gegenschein is German for 'counter glow', this phenomena is caused by sunlight reflecting off tiny cometary dust particles which congregate along the plane of the solar system and marks the solar opposition point. I have observed it many times over the years however it was once again a treat to meet it's acquaintance once more, there are many people (including astronomers) who have never seen it before. The next major meteor shower are the Geminids in mid December and my favourite of the year.

Cabin Tree Star Trails & Moonlit Causeway Cliff Aurora Report - NEW

New Image Report

New image report documenting two night sky shoots on November 5th & 7th 2017. The first on the shore of Lough Neagh when I shot two moonlit star trails around the locally famous 'Cabin Tree' near Doss, a rare 400-600 year old ash tree of great form used as a visual aid for fishermen on the Lough. Night two was a shoot on the Causeway cliffs at the north coast where we were treated to the best aurora in years when a CIR CH event dipped to Bz -20 generating a stunning aurora which dominated the sky. The aurora boasted a three tier arc, multiple high altitude oval forms, and was so intense it washed out bright naked eye stars completely. This was followed by a thrilling cliff top shoot with moonlit waves complimented by a vibrant green aurora arc. One page report with 20 images and 1 time lapse video. - REPORT.

Prints & Canvas Available For Christmas - NEW

Looking for that special Christmas gift?, I have spent years photographing the night sky, chasing storms and documenting atmospheric optical phenomena and during the course of that time I have collected a selection of unique and beautiful skyscapes which make for an exceptional gift for someone special this Christmas. Choose from the aurora, NLCs, moonbows, comets, night landscapes, star trails, sunsets, thunderstorms, funnel clouds, moonlit snow scenes and much more. Enjoy a leisurely browse through my Stock Image Gallery and Storm Chase Reports - all images are available to purchase on glacier print paper of various sizes including beautiful stretched canvas, check out the price list and if you are interested please drop me an email and I will get back to as soon as possible. I do photography for a living so any sales help support this site and fund future photo shoots, thanks very much for your time.

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Image Reports

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Reports

Astronomy is not the only subject I'm interested in. One other such area is severe weather which will be playing a major role on nightskyhunter from now on in conjunction with my other astronomical pursuits. Check out my new N. Ireland Storm Chasing section and view the chase reports and images which detail not only storms but other phenomena such as a moonbows, noctilucent clouds and aurora displays.

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Martin McKenna