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LATEST SKY EVENTS

Updated April 17th 2018

Stellar Lapse - Night Sky Time Lapse Showcase

'Stellar Lapse' - new night sky time lapse showcase featuring three years of time lapse sequences all shot at night using my DSLR and various lenses profiling N. Ireland auroras, starscapes and night landscapes. A selection of famous locations are on view such as Dunluce Castle, Mussenden Temple, Giant's Causeway, Monea Castle and many more. Best watched at 1080p HD, I hope you enjoy it, thanks very much for watching.

First Thunderstorm Of Season - April 17th

I just experienced my first thunderstorm of the season during the late afternoon of April 17th, a messy cell approached the area which suddenly intensified and began producing thunder. The storm produced heavy local rainfall and six good rumbles of thunder, as it passed a stunning example of a primary and secondary rainbow formed which was the best bow display I have seen in 2018 to date. In the wake of the storm I launched the drone from the countryside and captured several aerial images of the departing storm, in the above image the cell was moving from L to R and into the distance. The storm was very high based with little in the way of structure, however that didn't matter, it was a much welcomed sight and the sound of thunder was a joy to hear, hopefully the first of many to come this season!

Beaghmore & Davagh Forest Night Shoot - April 6th

On April 6th I went out on a much needed photo shoot which was decided at the last minute, simply because it was a rare clear night, we decided to shoot inside Davagh forest, Paul Martin met me at Beaghmore Stone Circles where we stopped for a few images. Here's one of the ancient stones with Sirius, Orion and Taurus setting as twilight blended into the night sky. I shot a time lapse from this very location for almost an hour, the zodiacal light was bright in the darkening twilight like a slanted wedge of enhanced light glowing along the evening ecliptic. A bright iridium flare appeared, so bright it momentarily lit up the grass below us casting a vivid shadow, I estimated it at least mag -6.

We then moved on to Davagh forest, we parked somewhere in the middle and got set up, this will be the site of a new dark sky observatory in 2019 and the subject of much interest so we decided to test out the location. Camera set shooting time lapse at 10mm, my intention was to capture the movement of the stars over the dark tree tops. This was the best clear sky we had seen in a very long time with excellent transparency, we allocated names to stars and constellations as the cameras clicked away and observed several early Lyrid meteors, here's a star trail from the time lapse images.

The sky was so good that neither of us wanted to leave so we ended up staying out until the pre-dawn hours. Paul set up his Ioptron sky tracker and let me use it in conjunction with my own DSLR, I have to say I was very impressed. This is a 120 sec exposure at ISO800 at 10mm, all the stars were tack sharp with no drifting at all during the exposure integration. The Milky Way in Cygnus can be seen rising in the NE, the star with the blue glow is of course bright Vega.

Sky tracker, 50mm F/1.8 lens stopped down to F/2.0 ISO800 for 120 sec's, I was blown away by the result. This is Cygnus with bright star Deneb at upper centre, check out the North America Nebula and associated dust clouds and nebulosity in the area. After this experience I decided I would like to add a sky tracker to my collection, not only for detailed star fields like this, but also for comets, there will be several comets within binocular range in the northern hemisphere during late Summer and a possible naked eye comet in December which could peak at mag -3, a tracker would obtain excellent imagery of these!

Final image of the night, bright planet Jupiter rose in the E between the tree tops illuminating a patch of cirrus cloud, I shot a short time lapse sequence of this before we called it a night.

Time lapse of the stars at Beaghmore and Davagh with the 10mm and 50mm lenses, best watched at 1080p with expanded window, thanks for watching, I hope to get in another shoot soon.

Update - April 6th

Sorry about the delay in updates recently. After the recent epic Winter scenes there has been no interesting weather or sky events to shoot, Spring got off to a cold, cloudy, and windy start with little in the way of convection. However last week did produce my first convective showers of the season along the north coast. This was Benone beach, to the W a cell had formed with dark skies sporting mean looking clouds contrasting against the brighter sunlit beach, I decided shoot a DSLR time lapse for training purposes in preparation for the new chase season as this weak gust front crossed Lough Foyle and out to open sea with Donegal in the background. 10mm lens, taking an image every second, you can view the results here.

Then after a week of rain, wind, grey skies and even a dusting of mountain snow we got one beautiful day on April 5th, my Wife and I spent the day at the coast under glorious sunshine, we could feel the solar heating however the air was stable, here's a shot of me taking in the stunning view on top of Binevenagh enjoying the moment. I have been doing a lot of drone flying lately and have logged over 670 flights to date, I will continue to indulge in my passion for aerial filming until the atmosphere becomes unstable once again.

Epic Rare Ice Formations At Ballyronan Marina Report - NEW

Epic Ballyronan Ice Event

Report documenting three days of Winter action in response to a major set-up from 'The Beast From The East' when sustained Siberian air advected across all of UK and Ireland generating the most significant cold spell in years. On feb 28th Conor McDonald and I chased to Co. Armagh inside a Met Office amber warned area which was getting affected by non stop Irish Sea snow streamers where we encountered 8" of snow and local blizzard conditions. March 2nd produced the most epic Winter sight of our lives when Paul Martin, Nigel Mcfarland and I visited Ballyronan Marina where a remarkable ice event had formed. 3" to 6" of glaze ice encased all the trees and branches on the lough shore sporting jaw dropping structure, the results were the most dramatic ice formations we have seen in our entire lives! One page report with 26 images and 2 video clips. - REPORT.

New Nightskyhunter facebook Page - NEWS

I have created a new facebook page dedicated entirely to this website, I'm currently transitioning from my private page to a new public page which will feature links to all my site updates, reports, forecasts and also showcase my night sky and storm photography, drone videos and time lapse cinematography. If you already follow me then please like and follow my new page and spread the word, thanks very much for - Nightskyhunter Facebook Page

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

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