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Nick James

I'm the Director of the Comet Section and the former BAA Papers Secretary and have been interested in astronomy for as long as I can remember, certainly since the age of 8. I joined the BAA when I was 12 (in 1974) and still have the letter from Rossie Atwell.  I am also an Assistant Editor of The Astronomer Magazine. Over the years I have written many articles for magazines and books, and co-authored "Observing Comets" which was published in 2003 as part of Sir Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy series.

Professionally, I am an engineer in the space industry, leading a team responsible for implementing highly sensitive and accurate systems for receiving and processing signals from deep-space spacecraft. I am also a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador and am keen to encourage more young people to consider science and engineering as a career.

In addition to all of this I spend quite a bit of time and money travelling around the world, often to see astronomical phenomena. As an eclipse chaser I have seen 16 total solar eclipses and have led trips to see the northern lights under dark skies.

I have a Youtube channel here where you will find a lot of my eclipse videos and other stuff. I also post photos on my Flickr site here. I also operate a couple of meteor cameras and the data from them is here.

2020 Jul 31

01:17 UTC

Just imaged the Perseverance spacecraft and its booster on the way to Mars.

2020 Jul 29

07:00 UTC

Here's an animation of C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from last night:

This consists of stacks of 20x10s (approx 320s total span including the camera dead time) processed using an r=2, theta=10 deg Larson-Sekanina filter. It shows the anti-clockwise rotation of the spiralling dust quite nicely and complex flows in the tail. 

2020 Jul 27

14:56 UTC

I've only just got around to processing my images of C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from July 22. An animation is here:
This shows a field of view of 33x22 arcmin processed using a Larson-Sekanina filter with r=2, th=10 deg. There are 9 frames each of around 330s duration (from 2143 - 2228). You can clearly see motion in the tail and material spiraling out from the centre of the coma. The small black dot at the centre of the coma is the reference pixel for the filter.

I have done quite a few experiments with this data and I think the parameters I have chosen are the best compromise to show detail and motion (i.e. around 300s integrations and L-S with r=2, th=10).

It always amazes me that so much relative motion is visible in active comets over such a short period of time.

2020 Jul 7

07:32 UTC

Comet rise this morning shown in this timelapseThis is a timelapse of 232x5s exposures from 01:17 - 01:40 UT.

03:06 UTC

I was incredibly lucky with the weather this morning in Chelmsford UK with a narrow slot of clear sky low down in the direction of the comet. C/2020 F3 was easy naked eye this morning. It is higher and in a darker sky than yesterday. The binocular view was fabulous. This is a single 5s frame taken at 0128UT using a 200mm, f/2.8 lens and a Canon EOS550D. 

2020 Jul 6

22:04 UTC

Here is my processed image of C/2020 F3 from last night along with a movie showing it rising above the local trees and TV aerials.

2020 Jun 7

06:46 UTC

NLC again this morning. Timelapse here.


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