Archive for May, 2007

Venus 2007

Posted in Planet on May 31, 2007 by Andrew

Here is my first post on my wordpress blog.

With clear and clean skies,I decided to bring my scope out for a breath of fresh air last night.It isn’t very often that I have the scope out on a work night but,I figured what the heck?.The local weather forecast doesn’t sound very inviting for the coming weekend so,I felt that getting in some scope time would be a good idea….even if was only for a hour.I didn’t set the scope up in the usual place this time.The reason for this was because I wanted to get a shot of Venus and their is a large building in the way at my normal observing location.The plan was to get some quick images and call it a night so,I decided to forgo the leveling and the pain staking alignment.I don’t know what I did right but,I used autostar to slew to Venus and it was dead center of the eyepiece?!…..go figure!.At that point I decided to use the LPI instead of the DSLR for the imaging.All was going great until my lovely neighbors felt that 9pm was a good time to burn some brush,which filled my observing area with dence smoke at which I called it a night and packed up.

Not a very nice place to visit.Venus is the second closest planet to the sun and is a prime example of Global warming running amuck due to a thick layer of carbon dioxide clouds.With a surface temperature at times approaching 800 degrees F (hot enough to melt lead!)and a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth making Venus a unlikely candidate for human habitation.

Image credit:Andrew

 Venus 2007


The Ring neb 2007

Posted in Planetary nebula on May 28, 2007 by Andrew

I have a 3 day weekend and wouldn’t you know it,the skies are terrible.This is why I am going to share another image that I took over a month ago.At the time of this image was taken,the Ring neb was rising at about 1:30am and was the last time the seeing was good.Aside from just wanting to get out and observe.Their are a couple objects that I really want to see and if possible…image.Comet Lovejoy is making it’s appearence near the cup of the Bigdipper.I haven’t seen it yet but,plan to if the skies cooperate.Another object high on my list of objects to see is Asteroid 4 Vesta which should be approaching a mag +5.5 and is located just North of Jupiter.If and when I do get to see and image 4 Vesta,I will be sure to write a post about it.Below is a wide field shot of the Ring nebula.Normally,I like to crop and resize some of my images but,have come to realize that by doing this,it doesn’t give a good perspective of the star field surrounding a object or a idea of the size of the object seen through the eyepiece/viewfinder.Which is good if the person looking through a scope has never seen this object before.Even though,the image below HAS been cropped and resized,the altered amount is minimal.

Image credit:Andrew

M51 (The Whirlpool galaxy)

Posted in Galaxy on May 28, 2007 by Andrew

Sorry about the lack of posting lately but,I have been very busy at work.The weather has been absolutely dreadful lately (heh,as if you haven’t heard that one before!).Rain and clouds have all but put a stop to any thought of observing.So,I decided to share a image that I took a couple weeks ago.I have imaged and posted M51 before but,I have been playing around with a plugin for Photoshop Elements called Astronomy tools.I must say that it works great for removing light pollution and other problems that occur in imaging.Here is the link: AstronomytoolsforElements .

Below is a shot of M51 that I took a couple weeks ago.The image was shot using a Pentax ist Ds DSLR using prime focus.The exposure was 88seconds with a ISO of 400 unguided.A street light was positioned right below,so a lot of light pollution invaded the shot.The skies were clear but,the seeing and transparency were bad.Photoshop Elements and Astronomy tools were used for processing.


Sunspot 953 and the ISS transit!!

Posted in International Space Station on May 28, 2007 by Andrew

Well,after 5 months of waiting only to be disappointed,due to either foul weather or a last minute engine burn to raise the ISS orbit.I was FINALLY able to get a shot of a International Space Station transiting the sun!!!!!!.I don’t mean to brag……..but,gosh darnit,I can’t help it…WOOHOO!!!.HAHAHAHAHA,I believe everyone within a half mile radius heard me?!.After a long but,very productive day.I arrived home with a e-mail from Calsky stating that a ISS transit was going to happen in less than a hour and after a few minutes of thought I decided to give it a try.The skies were clear but,a stiff breeze from the NE was blowing and that was making me question my sanity.My next question to myself was “where do I set the scope up that is away from the stronger breeze”?.I decided on my neighbors front yard.Nobody lives there at the moment and what would it hurt?.So I quickly set the scope up but,had a tough time finding the sun in the eye piece (believe me,it is harder than it sounds)!.After a few tense minutes,I finally found it and focused.By the time I had found it, only a few minutes were left for the event….3 minutes to be exact and I still needed to attach the “T”adaptor,the camera and achieve focus through the viewfinder.When all was done,I only had what I believe was less than 10 seconds left before the transit.With my eye never leaving the viewfinder,I finally caught a dark streak that was moving extremely fast.So fast as a matter of fact that I barely had time to press the camera remote!.The transit duration was only 1 second and that was across the whole disc of the sun!.I really wanted to get the ISS and sunspot #953 together but,my reflexes are a bit slow…hahahaha.

On the subject of sunspot #953.If you have the proper filter I would suggest taking a look before it exits our view on the eastern limb!.

Never look directly at the sun without a proper solar filter or severe injury or blindness may occur!

Image credit: Andrew

ISS transit


ISS and sunspot

Sunspot 953

Mare Humorum

Posted in Moon on May 28, 2007 by Andrew

This is yet another post that should have been written a few weeks ago.While out about 3 weeks ago,I had decided to give the LPI another go.Unfortunately,the seeing and transparency were not the greatest and no where near what they were a week after I took this image.Since that time we have had temps ranging anywhere between 30F and 87F.Now however,it seems that Spring is REALLY here and temps have drifted back to where they should be this time of year…in the 60’sF.The forecast for this coming weekend is calling for clear skies,which I will believe when I see it.It seems as if our local forecasters are more interested in what their computer models are showing rather than doing real weather forecasting by popping their heads out of the window and taking a look?!.

If the weather holds out and is as good as they predict.I will have a list of objects at the ready.One of the objects I want to see and hopefully image is comet Lovejoy .I have seen a really nice image of the comet over at Verns site.It is similar in color to comet Swan and is near the Ring nebula.My second target is Jupiter.I will be using the DSLR and LPI for imaging.Practice makes perfect!.

The Sea of Moisture or more commonly known as the Mare Humorum is located on the south-west quandrant of the moon and is most visible 3 days after the first quarter or 2 days after the last quarter.Most likely a impact basin,Mare Humorum is filled with a thick layer of Basalt,which is a form of fine grained volcanic rock and is estimated to be approximately 3 kilometers thick.The basin is also estimated to be 230 miles across and 3.8 billion years old.

Information credit:Wikipedia

Image credit:Andrew

Sunspot 953

Posted in Solar on May 28, 2007 by Andrew

After what seems to be a couple of months without  any notable sunspot activity.A new and quite large sunspot has come into view.Here is the report issued by the SpaceEnviromentCenter .

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from  24/2100Z
to 25/2100Z:  Solar activity increased to low levels.  Newly numbered
Region 953 (S14E73) has partially rotated into view during the
period and produced a C2 x-ray flare at 24/2256Z.  A four spot Hsx
alpha sunspot group is currently visible in white light.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast:  Solar activity is expected to be at
very low to low levels.

IIA.  Geophysical Activity Summary 24/2100Z to 25/2100Z:
The geomagnetic field was at quiet to unsettled levels.

IIB.  Geophysical Activity Forecast:  The geomagnetic field is
expected to be at quiet to unsettled levels on 26 and 27 April.  A
recurrent coronal hole high speed stream is expected to become
geoeffective on 29 April.  Active to minor storm conditions are
expected with the onset of the coronal hole.

III.  Event Probabilities 26 Apr-28 Apr
Class M    05/10/10
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       Green

IV.  Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           25 Apr 077
Predicted   26 Apr-28 Apr  080/080/080
90 Day Mean        25 Apr 074

V.  Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 24 Apr  005/004
Estimated Afr/Ap 25 Apr  005/005
Predicted Afr/Ap 26 Apr-28 Apr  005/005-005/005-015/025

VI.  Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 26 Apr-28 Apr
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                10/10/30
Minor storm           01/01/15
Major-severe storm    01/01/10
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/10/45
Minor storm           05/05/20
Major-severe storm    01/01/15
The image below was shot using my Pentax Dslr

ISO setting was 1/500th sec.

At the time of this shot the skies were fairly saturated with high clouds,which made focusing tough.

Image credit: Andrew

Galaxy Quest part 2

Posted in Galaxy on May 28, 2007 by Andrew

Last Friday night we had some of the cleanest skies that I have seen in a long time and I hope that we have another repeat soon.Since that time I have been trying to make up my mind as to what kind of a purchase I am going to make for my scope.The first thought is a new Laptop Pc.A laptop would be nice to have when I take images using my Meade LPI.I can have myself parked right at the scope and make any nessesary adjustments when needed.On the other hand I was thinking of purchasing a Meade DSI pro for deep space images.If I buy this first,I can be ahead of the learning curve game and get some decent shots before the skies get crappy this summer.Hmmmm….decisions decisions.I’m kind of leaning towards the DSI pro because,I already have about 60 ft of cable that I am using to run the LPI to my desk top.So it isn’t as if I would need a lap top right away.I have had one vote for a lap top Pc.Any thoughts?.

As I wrote in the begining of this post.I had the scope out last Friday night,under wonderful skies.The temps were warm and my excitement grew as the night wore on,which explains why I never went to bed until 4:30am.Of the many different object that I saw.I must say the most exciting wasd being able to see and image,without averted vision,some of the galaxies in the Virgo cluster.Though most were almost out of visual sight,a couple were rather bright and looked like a pair of eyes staring back at me.I am of course talking about M84-M86 area of the Virgo cluster.This is the first time I have ever seen the cluster and believe me I have tried!.It is 60 million light years distant and shines at a +9.1 mag.

On an unrelated event.I was just visiting Soho and their is a HUGE sunspot making it’s way around the western limb of our sun.Perhaps if the clouds break up and becomes sunny tomorrow,I will be able to get some images to share?!.

image credit: Andrew


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