with Paul Mortfield

The Backyard Astronomer TM

Karen's Galaxy

Inspired by my wife to photograph this local galaxy.


Current Moon Phase

Check out the new edition of this cool book by my friends Terry Dickinson and Alan Dyer. Great info for beginners, plus tips and tricks for the experienced observers.

Graze of Saturn © 1997 Mortfield/Phelps

Comet Hale-Bopp Gallery

Bay Area Lightning Storm, Sept 8, 1999

Mortfield's Telescope buying tips.


veil_west veil_east

Astro-Photo Gallery (more)


Asteroid 2008-UY

On Oct 18, 2008, I chanced upon a previously undiscovered chunk of rock roaming our solar system. I used my remote telescope to capture the images, and looking closely at the frames noticed an object moving against the starry background. I re-acquired it the next night to get more data points and submitted these to the Minor Planet Center at Harvard.
The asteroid is really faint in these images (~mag 20), but if you look carefully you'll see it as a faint object moving.

UPDATE: more discoveries

- 249300 (2008 UY)- Oct 18, 2008 (period 4.09yrs located in asteroid belt)
- 372656 (2009 WE52)- Nov 16, 2009 (period 4.25yrs located in asteroid belt)
- 2008 US1 - Oct 18, 2008 (Trojan - period 11.7yrs)
- 465710 (2009 UG20) - Oct 22, 2009 (period 4.88yrs located in asteroid belt)

Asteroid 465710 (2009 UG20)

My backyard observatory is called the Betelgeuse Bar & Grill, built by the wonderful people at SkyShed and here are the current sky conditions for observers in my part of Ontario. This sky clock is produced by Canadian friend Attilla Danko


The biggest baddest flare ever on record..!!

Nov 4 - Well you'd think that we'd seen it all from AR10486, guess not. I just happened to be checking Xray flux counts from the GOES satellite and noticed an event was on the rise. Well it just kept going and going getting higher passing the X10 mark caught last week. It was so strong that it saturated the detector on the spacecraft for 11 minutes locked with a reading at X17.4. The flare was finally labelled as an X42, yes the biggest on record. The only good news is that the flare was pointed away from Earth. Info about my radio telescope that detected the flare.

David's Death Star

In 2005 10yr old David Bodirsky noticed a "moving star" on one of my images. I was looking at the expansion of this supernova remnant, when he discovered a faint star with proper motion which we'll soon catalog with the name he's chosen above. You can see the motion (click on the image for larger version), when we blink between the new image and one taken over 50 years ago. Initial measurements show the motion for RA: +0.024 arcsec/yr and DEC: -0.067 arcsec/yr. This is slow compared to Barnard's star, but definitely noticeable over a much longer timeframe. Congrats David, well done..

(p.s. the very bright star in the upper right is a known star of high proper motion, David's star is much fainter)

Sunset Partial Eclipse July 30, 2000

Observing from the top of Mt. Hamilton above San Jose I was able to capture the sun setting with a bite out of its right side. The last time we had this opportunity was 10 years earlier on July 29, 1990. (click on the images for larger view) The first image (top left) was published in the November 2000 issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine.

Solar Eclipse © 1999 Paul Mortfield
We saw the eclipse. It was not the best of conditions, however, we did see it through clouds. Our viewing spot was Friesing, just 30 minutes north of Munich. We had pouring rain, less than an hour before totality, and it rained again 45 minutes after. We set up on the grounds of the oldest operating brewery in the world. Yes, it had been founded in 1040AD. Many locals walked by and were taking pictures of us with our telescopes. Here's a selection of images of the eclipse.

About Paul

All Photos unless otherwise stated Copyright 1996-2018 © Paul Mortfield .2. All rights reserved. contact: Paul at Backyardastronomer