Sunday, 12 November 2017


James was born on 10 March 1890 in Wolverhampton, the son of James Ambrose and Mary J. Hancox. In 1891 they were living at 10 Victoria Terrace, Coleman Street, Wolverhampton, alongside his sister Elizabeth and brother Edmund. They were at 6 Stanhope Street by 1901, by which date the 11-year-old James was already a station assistant. On 20 November 1905 he started working for the Great Western Railway. In 1909 he married Mary Jane Pengelly at Devonport, and they had a child. By 1911 he had enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 8116).
He disembarked on 4 October 1914, but was killed in action on 29 October the same year. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial, as well as on the roll of honour for Wednesfield Village.
This photograph of James Ambrose Hancox appeared in the Midland Counties Express on 20 February 1915.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Aurora Forecast

Aurora Forecast
Loch Doon Spitfire P7540
On Sat Oct 25th 1941 a lone Spitfire from 312 Czech Sqdn RAF Ayr on a training flight was seen to crash and be lost in the deep dark waters of Loch Doon. Recovered on 15th May 1982 when discovered by divers after a three year search . It is now almost fully restored and on display at the Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum
Loch Doon Spitfire P7540
Dalcairney Falls Dalmellington
Dalcairney Falls Dalmellington

Volunteering at The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory

I have been a volunteer at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory in Dalmellington since its opening in 2012.
I thoroughly enjoy the experience meeting other from around the globe with an interest in astronomy including Russia, USA and more.
I learned to open the observatories scopes, the 20” Planewave with 5-meter dome and the 14” Planewave in the roll on roll off roof observatory, I have also been shown how to set them up for observing and show the wonders of the night sky to guests
I help direct guests to park and show them around the observatory. From time to time sitting in on the presentations.
I also get involved in maintenance of the equipment, building and grounds.
On clear nights the sky is amazing seeing meteors, Satellites and aurora on occasion as well as visual observing through the scopes at the end of a night I can set up my camera or telescope and do some imaging and viewing.
The greatest thing is to see the wonder and awe on the faces of some of the guests seeing the Milky Way for the first time or viewing objects through the telescopes for the first time.
We also promote the local area like Loch Doon, The Roundhouse and the Ayrshire Railway Preservation Trust amongst other things in the area with 100’s visiting the observatory each week this has to be a good thing for the area and I feel worthwhile being involved in. You are made to feel welcome and valued supporting this amazing charitable trust.
I am no expert but an amateur astronomer who enjoys sharing his hobby and promoting the area I live in.
The SDSO are always on the lookout for volunteers whatever your skill/trade or knowledge level you would be made welcome. I have met and made new friends from all backgrounds and hope the observatory continues to go from strength to strength.
Its not the amount of times you volunteer it’s the enthusiasm when you do that counts.

 If you are interested contact

Facebook Scottish Dark Sky observatory

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

2015 Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

2015 Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

Main Activity Dates Apr 19 to May 28
Peak Rates May 5 - 6
Peak ZHR 50 - 70 
Best Observed Rates Pre-dawn on May 6
Visibility each night (UK) Very limited visibility - radiant doesn't rise until near dawn
Moonlight issues at Maximum Significant - Moon is 2 days past full, though low in the southern sky

Approximate radiant from Dalmellington. With a a 90% waning moon and dawn creeping in we only need the weather to conspire against us now. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Noctilucent Cloud 2015

Noctilucent Cloud 2015

Nlc's usually appear from mid May to mid August.
They are a very interesting subject to view in the night sky and a great subject for photography.
There is a specific range of latitude they are visible from normally 50-65° North and about 82km in height

Early in 2014 the Earth may have past through the dust trail from Comet Ison it is thought this may enhance the NLC's this year we will have to wait and see.

Noctilucent (Night Shining is a loose Latin Translation)

An indication of the formation of NLC's is when the Mesosphere temperature drops to about -140°C at about 82KM altitude

Example:NLC's over  Dalmellington, Ayrshire Scottish Dark Sky Observatory 2013 
 (  )

Types of NLC's Clouds

Type 1: Veil – A simple structureless sheet, sometimes as background to other forms.

Type 2: Bands – Lines or streaks, parallel or 
crossing at small angles.

Type 3: Waves – Fine herring-bone structure like the sand ripples on a beach at low tide. Very characteristic of NLC.

Type 4: Whirls – Large-scale looped or twisted structures.

Type 5: Amorphous – Isolated patches of NLC with no definite structure


ISO 200-400, 10-20 secs F2.8/3.5

The above settings are a rough guide only and experimentation is recommended

Below is a time-lapse also taken from the SDSO in June 2013


Meteor Smoke Makes Strange Clouds - NASA Science -

Explanation from the Atoptics Site -