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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.

2018 Jul 1

2018 May 20

21:52 UTC

I've just returned from a 6-night stay on La Palma. The following are timelapse videos that I obtained during the visit. All were shot using a Sony A7s full frame camera body. Observations were made from two locations, the house which was at 1000m and the mountain at 2100m. The timelapses are MP4 format and should play on most devices although the frame size is quite large (2120x1416 which is half the original size).


First night, very clear at 1000m. One timelapse obtained using an 85mm, f/1.2L lens at f/1.8. This shows galactic star clouds rising above the ridge to the southwest. The timelapse is here.


Second night. Mostly clear at 1000m but frequent drifting cloud early in the night. Two timelapses obtained using the 85mm lens. One around midnight and the other approaching dawn. Lots of satellites are visible. The timelapses are here and here.


Third night. Clear at 1000m but very windy. Used an 8mm lens to get all-sky coverage through the night starting at twilight and going through to early morning. There are three timelapses here, here and here.


Fourth night. Mainly cloudy at 1000m but some clear patches. One twilight timelapse with a 15mm lens here. Unfortunately the lens kept mising over so not very good. Spotted the very young crescent Moon in the evening sky and very clear zodiacal light.


Fifth night. Cloudy raining at 1000m so drove 40 mins to get above the clouds at 2100m. Spectacular sunset and view of the Moon and Venus. Followed Venus and the Moon down to the horizon as they set into the cloud layer. The timelapse obtained with the Megrez 72 (350mm, f/4.8) is here.


Sixth and final night. Cloud and rain at 1000m so went up the mountain again. Decided to do a timelapse with the Megrez 72 looking at stars rising over the Nordic Optical Telescope.  The first timelapse runs from 19:50 - 2059 UT and shows the sky darkening and stars appearing. The second timelapse runs from 21:01 - 22:59 UT. Sony A7s, 5s, ISO 20000. Megrez 72 with x0.8 FF (effectively 350mm, f/4.8). Frames animated at 25 fps. Declination is around -21 deg and the field of view is around 5 x 3 deg. The stars are mainly in Scorpius. The dome is illuminated by the 3 day old crescent Moon which is setting in the west.


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