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StarDome Blog

by Sonia Turkington FRAS.


Each Month Sonia will bring you a roundup of the latest astronomy & Space news directly to this page.



Hi I'm Sonia, I have been into astronomy since 1997 when I was 11 years old when comet Hale Bopp was around.

I remember being in the back garden with my dad and he was showing me how to take a photo of it with his old Fujica camera,

that I still have now. Ever since then I've been fascinated with space.


 I started with a very cheap Tasco telescope from Argos to look at the moon, went onto a Meade go-to - ETX  90 telescope, which unfortunately due to it's age stopped working. For a very long time I have also used a Skywatcher 10" Dobsonian, to mostly photograph the moon with a moon filter and also the planets.


I now have a Seestar S-50 which has got me into deep sky imaging which I love! I also own a Coronado PST for solar imaging.


 I have two Bsc. (Hons) Open degrees in "Introducing Astronomy and the planets".

In 2023 I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and am also Vice President since 2024

for the Manchester Astronomical Society. Also I am currently a freelancer for the BBC sky at night magazine.  


Clear Skies​






On Monday April 8th, 2024 a total solar eclipse passed through America,

with Totality Passing over Mexico, The United States and Canada.


Here are some images and the experience that was had during the eclipse.


But first let’s go to Orkney where a partial eclipse could be spotted, this was taken by Callum Potter, Shot with Canon 600d and Canon 75-300 zoom lens at 300mm. 1/4000s, f/16 ISO 800.

This was taken from the Northwest of Rousay looking west over the Atlantic. Weather had been good all day but deteriorated towards sunset. Cloud hugged the horizon, but a few gaps let the Sunshine through.

It was difficult to capture - manual focus, various camera settings experimented with, and live view used to focus. No eclipse was seen visually, but luckily few frames showed the notch out of the Sun.

Image (C) Callum Potter


Now, lets go over to America!



Enhanced Corona, HDR eclipse shot. 10 exposures of differing lengths. The moon is real, a two second exposure blended in (showing the earth shine). Meade 130mm APO telescope and Nikon D850 camera.




Image (C) Jason Ware

Enhanced Corona, HDR eclipse shot. 10 exposures of differing lengths.

The moon is real, a two second exposure blended in (showing the earth shine).

Meade 130mm APO telescope and Nikon D850 camera.

Image (C) Dan Holley

What an incredible experience — years of planning for 4 minutes of totality. From increasingly eerie light to twilight all around, with visible ripples of light racing across the ground in the moments before totality. Streetlights came on, the temperature dropped 3°C and winds fell light. Then to catch a glimpse of the Sun's corona and prominence with your own eyes, before totality ended with a diamond ring. So glad the weather behaved, and we were able to witness the entire eclipse

from start to finish.


Image (C) Philip Smith

"I could not get to image the Total Eclipse. So I imaged the 90% Partial Solar Eclipse on 04-08-24 from my Manorville, NY observatory. The weather was crappy. I was lucky to get this image."

Image (C) Jake Jakubowski

"Totality or Bust. I now know why they say that. Experiencing this was absolutely unreal! We drove down to Waterville Ohio for this. This is the Diamond Ring phase!! Experiencing the darkness, temperature drop and animals around us was so amazing."


Image (C) Chris Gulikson before 1st Contact


Image (C) Darren Swindells

"My first processed image of today's eclipse in Dallas, Texas." 


"I love the sunlight shining through the clouds, and the diamond ring effect. There are a few prominence's visible, most noticeable at the bottom, and the coronal streams can be seen as faint lines streaking away from the sun's surface."


Some absolutely stunning images, but why does a solar eclipse happen?

Let’s take a look at this image from time and date. The moon has to pass in between the Sun and the Earth and then the moon casts a shadow on the Earth. How the sun, moon and Earth align, determines what type of Solar Eclipse you can see. In the Umbra we see a total eclipse and the Penumbra we see a partial eclipse.

A solar eclipse can only happen though when there is a new moon.

The last total solar eclipse in the UK was 1999 and the next one is due on 23rd September 2090.

However, the next partial solar eclipse in the UK will be the 29th March 2025, when 30-40% of the sun will be blocked out.


Big news, big news, have you heard the news.

Now for you latest space news updates!



Voyager 1 Probe is back…with health updates.

If you had previously read my blog from last month, you will have seen that Voyager 1 probe had a bit of amnesia and stopped communicating with Earth. Well.. It is now sending back information once again! As Last November it started talking gibberish and stopped working due to a tiny chip. However, it is only sending back about its health within its onboard systems, so there is still a lot of work to be done to get the scientific instruments back online. But it’s a start.

The ground team sent a command to voyager 1 on Thursday to recode part of its memory of the Flight Database System,

which is one of its three computers.

At the moment Voyager 1 is more than 15 billion miles away and it takes nearly two days to send a command and get a response back.


 Happy 34th Birthday to Hubble!

In celebration of the 34th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s legendary Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers took a snapshot of the Little Dumbbell Nebula, also known as Messier 76, or M76, located 3,400 light-years away in the northern circumpolar constellation Perseus. The name 'Little Dumbbell' comes from its shape that is a two-lobed structure of colourful, mottled, glowing gases resembling a balloon that’s been pinched around a middle waist. Like an inflating balloon, the lobes are expanding into space from a dying star seen as a white dot in the centre. Blistering ultraviolet radiation from the super-hot star is causing the gases to glow. The red colour is from nitrogen, and blue is from oxygen.





Juno reveals Giant Lava Lake on IO – one of Jupiter’s moons.

Juno has undertaken two close flybys of Jupiter’s moon IO and has revealed details of its volcanic place.

Nasa has released a new animation video.




Clear Skies - Sonia

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