I had a great weekend here at Haremoon Cottage in County Mayo, all my lot came home as it was my birthday. Apart from lovely birthday cards, presents and cake I was given lessons in astronomy photography by my son.
First lesson began Friday morning, and we were lucky there was some cloud breaks which revealed the partial eclipse of the Sun. The partial eclipse is caused by a shadow created by the Moon as it passes between the Earth and the Sun which began about 8.30am. The next solar eclipse is not due until 2026 so I have loads of time to learn how to take some decent Sun photography.
This weekend we also had a new moon and the Spring Equinox where the sun crosses the celestial equator, and day and night are of equal length. The sun will now continue north of the equator until the summer solstice. Astronomers use the dates of equinoxes and solstices to mark the beginning of the seasons in a year (astronomical seasons)
Spring – March equinox to June solstice
Summer – June solstice to September equinox
Autumn – September equinox to December solstice
Winter – December solstice to March equinox
While meteorologists, divide the year into four seasons of three months each (meteorological seasons).
Spring – starting 1st March – ending 31st May
Summer – starting 1st June – ending 31st August
Autumn – starting 1st September – ending 30th November
Winter – starting 1st December – ending 28th (29th leap year) February
We in Ireland tend to mark St Brigid’s Day 1st February as the first day of spring.
While Friday was clouding, Saturday was a fabulous bright and sunny day leading to a clear night sky giving the opportunity to take more astronomy photos.
The Pleiades (M45) is one of my favourite night sky objects which can be seen to the right (above me) in photo. The Pleiades is an open star cluster containing extremely luminous hot blue stars located in the constellation of Taurus and is among the nearest star clusters to Earth. In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were “seven sisters” called Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. To the Vikings the Pleiades were Freyja’s hens and in many other countries as a hen with chicks. I like how Alfred Lord Tennyson described the rising Pleiades in his poem, Locksley Hall.
“Many a night I saw the Pleiades, rising thro’ the mellow shade.
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.”
All photos in this post were taken by my son and this one of the three stars showing the most prominent stars in the Orion constellation which forms Orion’s belt was a great surprise to me, as it also shows the Orion Nebula which I had not seen before. The Orion Nebula is a formation of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases rather than a star is farther away than any of the naked eyes stars at a distance of about 1,600 light-years.
I had a wonderful and informative birthday weekend made-so, by my wonderful family and the magnificence of the universe. Can anyone want for more!