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ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY: THE CONSTELLATION OF ORION AND PLANET SATURN
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Astronomy is an interest which has been with me since my early childhood and although sodium lights pollute the night skies in Ross-on-Wye itself these days, no more than a mile or so out of town one can find some excellent dark places to photograph or view the stars, either with the naked eye or with telescope or binoculars.

The photographs below were taken at 21:58 and 22:00 hours on Saturday 1 February 2003 from the middle of the footbridge across the River Wye at Foy, Herefordshire, without the aid of a telescope. They were taken with an Olympus E-10 camera set at f.2 and with 30 second and 17 second exposures respectively. The top image shows the constellation of Orion the hunter with the Nebular M42 visible in his sword. Some pollution from distant sodium lights at the Somerfield Depot can be seen even here, towards the bottom of the image. The second image shows the planet Saturn with its rings clearly visible. The third image is of myself and was taken by Tina with a Nikon 4300 during our Saturday evening of astro photography. Having adjusted to the darkness with pupils wide open, the flash blinded me for several minutes after the snapshot, which is not a good thing if out stargazing.

Orion, as seen from Foy Bridge, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
The constellation of Orion with the blue star Sirius visible close to the treetop. The nebula M42 can just be seen in the hunter's sword. At a distance of 8.7 light years, Sirius is the brightest 'star' visible from Earth due to its 'close' proximity. Purely to give some idea of the distance to Sirius, the spacecraft Voyager 2, which was launched on 20th August 1977 and is now leaving our Solar System at a speed of 17.46 kilometres per second will pass by Sirius approximately 358,000 years from now!
Saturn, as seen from Foy Bridge, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
The planet Saturn with rings running approximately 220 to 40 degrees just visible on a bitterly cold Saturrday night in January 2003 at Foy, Herefordshire.
Foy Bridge, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
Blinded by the light of a Nikon flash whilst photographing the stars on Foy footbridge.
If you would like to view some photographs of the 31 May 2003 solar eclipse as seen from Ross-on-Wye, please click here.

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