Archive for June, 2007

Distorted sun and lightning bolts

Posted in Lightning, Solar on June 28, 2007 by Andrew

After a day of almost unbearable humidity and sweltering heat I was treated to quite a eventful evening.While cooling myself off in my apartment with the AC on high.I noticed a redish glow coming through the edge of the blinds.Upon opening the blinds I was amazed at the color of the sun.A very pink color that was dimmed by the hazy skies.I had to actually crawl through the window of my apartment and out onto the roof to get the sun images which was quite a feat in it’s self.After capturing the images and returning to the cool comforts of my home, a lightning storm hit 15 minutes later.The storm lasted for about 20 minutes and with luck on my side,no rain was involved making it possible to take the images without worry of getting the camera wet.

Below are some of the images that I took from last night using my Pentax ist DS DSLR.

The first 2 images are of a distorted sun.The images were cropped and resized only using Photoshop Elements.

Distorted sun

20 seconds later…..

A bolt of lightning can travel at a speed of 45 km/s (kilometres per second) (100,000 mph, 160,000 km/h). [4] It can reach temperatures approaching 28,000 °C (50,000 °F), hot enough to fuse soil or sand into glass!!!!.

A double strike……..



Posted in Star on June 23, 2007 by Andrew

Welcome home Atlantis!!!

The space shuttle Atlantis safely arrived home this afternoon,landing at Edwards Air force base at 3:49pm EDT after 13+ days in orbit.It was a relief to see the orbital vehicle back on the ground!.Back in 1993,I had the pleasure of listening to the sonic booms of Atlantis as it landed at Edwards.I was staying with some friends in Tehachapi CA for the summer.I had not heard multiple booms like that since I was a child growing up in Vermont and not being ready for the noise I nearly hit my head on the ceiling!.

If I am not mistaken,I believe that the next shuttle launch will be in August??!.

This is yet another image I shot a couple weeks back…..


Antares is a Class M supergiant star located in the constellation Scorpius and approximately 600 light years distant.It is easily visible since it is the 16th brightest night time stars and visually 10,000 times brighter than the sun.Did I mention that it is huge?.No?.Well it is.In fact,if it were in place of our sun the outer edge would be between Mars and Jupiters orbit.When Antares reaches the end of its life cycle,it will most likely Super nova which should produce a brilliant light show for our future Earth inhabitants.

Doesn’t our sun look puny in comparison?.


Image credit:Andrew

M7 “The Scorpion’s Tail”

Posted in Open cluster on June 20, 2007 by Andrew

While I was out with the scope last Friday night.One of the objects that I observed and imaged was M007.With a name that has that James Bondish ring to it,I certainly found it to be ellusive due to the fact that it is quite low in the southern horizon from my perspective.I have a mountain to contend with but still I would estimate that it was 30 degrees+- above the horizon.This open cluster which is also known as Ptolemy’s Cluster lies some 800-1000 light years away and shines at a  visual mag of 3.3 under dark skies.Ptolemy a.k.a Claudius Ptolemaeus Pelusiniensis was a greek astronomer who lived and worked in Alexandria, Egypt at around 85-165 AD.He described M7  as the “nebula following the sting of Scorpius.”Hence the constellation name of Scorpius!.M7 contains approximately 80 stars of visual mag10+ and is approching us at about 14 Km/second.Not to worry though,it won’t reach us for MANY Millons of years!.My first thought when seeing it through the scope was how much it looked like the Pleiades!.


Image credit:Andrew

The Scorpions Tail

Jupiter and the LPI

Posted in astrophotography, Planet on June 17, 2007 by Andrew

Hey,what do you know.The local weather service got another forecast wrong and I liked it!.The forecast for Friday night was overcast skies and showers,both of which never happened.It was tough to observe with the non stop roar of motorcycles however, I quickly over came and tuned out the noise.The skies were not the greatest but I didn’t relly care as long as I could see the heavens.I would put the transparency at below average and the seeing poor.Humidity was quite high as well as dew was forming in the dropping temps.I made many stops during the course of the evening starting with M 13.I like to perform a trial run with the scope just to be sure that it’s goto is working properly.Other stops were made at M15,Enif,Antares,Enif,the Ring neb,Dumbell neb.I had to wait for Jupiter to rise above the tree line but,by 10:30 it had come into view and what a sight.Even with the milky skies I was able to make out the cloud belts and of course the moons were very bright as well.

I started imaging with the LPI at 11pm and continued until about 1am.I’m still trying to get used to using the LPI but,what I have shot,beats anything that I have taken with the DSLR….well as far as planets are concerned.

The image below is a stack of 25 using Autostar Suite.Photoshop Elements and Registax were also used.The shot shows a fair amount of detail including the Great Red Spot…..I think?.When and if the skies cleanup,I will definitely give Jupiter another try.I am convinced that I can get a better shot with loads more detail.

Image credit:Me!

 My best yet! 

Crescent moon on a noisy night

Posted in Moon, Uncategorized on June 17, 2007 by Andrew

This is the last weekend of my vacation and the last of Laconia bike week.Although I dread going back to work I don’t dread the traffic and noise.At the time these images (sorry,no girls in thongs!) were taken the city was in sort of a lull in the action.This lull of course only lasted a couple hours and then it was back to being really noisy.While I was out and about,I decided to get a wide field shot of the 4% crescent moon before the clouds rolled in.

all quiet for a while

Nice bike!

Old school bike

Crescent moon…..

4% crescent moon

My Equipment

Posted in astronomy, Photo on June 14, 2007 by Andrew

While my observing opportunities dwindle,I figured I would get some images of my scopes.I say observing opportunities because,I am on a weeks vacation and was hoping to get a lot of eye piece time in.Unfortunately,Mother nature has had other ideas.It has been cloudy here for the most part of a week now.The forecast is for partly cloudy skies tomorrow night and mostly sunny on Friday.If things work out for the next 3 days I will be happy and my vacation will have been a good one.Their are a few events coming up on Friday and Saturday that I have my fingers crossed for and they are,three solar transits of the ISS.The first one occurs on Friday in the early evening at 7:39pm.This will be a 2.6 second transit.I plan on being ready and waiting for this one!!!.The next transit occurs on Saturday afternoon/early evening at 6:30+pm with a second transit happening 1 orbit later.Both of which are 2+ seconds each.I will be happy with one!.If I do get any images,my excitement will pretty much go unnoticed because it is the 84th annual Laconia Bike week.With upwards of 350,000- 450,000 bikers roaring up and down the streets of our little town.Um,yeah,big deal you may say but,with a town of 25,000 residents and small  residental streets,you do the math on the traffic snarls and the hell raising.HAHAHAHA,now you know why I am on vacation!.If that isn’t a good enough reason to be on vacation…I live right smack dab in the middle of town also!.It is bad enough that it takes me 45 minutes to get home from work.During bike week it could take almost 2 hours!.Maybe,I will get some shots of the madness to share in the next few days?!.

Sorry I strayed off the  Equipment post!.

Below are some images of the scopes and other stuff I own to indulge my astronomy addiction.

Meade LXD75 sn 10

My 10″ Meade LXD75 SN.In this image you will also notice the heated Astrozap flexable dew shield and a Celestron 250amp powertank to run my scope.It is pretty cool because,it has jumper cables,am/fm radio,800,000 candlepower spot light and red flashlight.Why would a powertank want a bright spotlight?.Hmmmmm?.Thats right….to annoy my neighbors!!.

Meade DS90 with autostar

I just bought this scope a few weeks ago and haven’t had the chance to try it out yet!.I hate clouds!.In front of the scope is my astronomy tool box containing most of my astronomy electronics,eye pieces,filters and Lunar Planetary Imager.

My 4.5

This is my Celestron reflector which I have owned for almost 7 years.It doesn’t get much use anymore except for quick moon images.My cat “Orion” has adopted this scope as his own.He likes to actually climb up the OTA and stick his muzzle in the eye piece holder……trying to get a glimpse of the Cats Eye nebula I suppose?.

My three ducks in a row!

This a shot of all three scopes to gether.Yes,I forgot to mention the second Powertank and the full aperture solar filter leaning against the tripod of the Celestron.I can’t show you the Pentax isDs DSLR because,well… else am I going to take these images?.

Astronomy really IS a money pit,in a good way!.


Posted in Globular cluster on June 10, 2007 by Andrew

M5 is yet another globular cluster that I imaged a couple months ago.Actually,I took the shot on the same night that I shot M13 and the skies haven’t been the same since but,I am hoping all of that will change in the coming week.The local forecast is calling for T-storms in the next couple days then clearing by Wednesday.

Under very good viewing conditions, M5 can just be glimpsed with the naked eye. The globular cluster is easily visible as small fuzzy patch in good binoculars, and a fine round “nebula” in 3-inch telescopes, brighter toward the center. Starting with 4-inch, its brightest stars, of mag 12.2, can just be resolved; they form curved patterns extending from the central part which John Mallas found suggesting a spider; one of the “legs” extending far southward, the halo extending to a diameter of over 10′. Larger telescopes or photographs reveal a spectacular sight with thousands of stars, a few less populated gaps, and the halo extending to over 15′ diameter.

Since M5 doesn’t have a designated name,I think I will take the opportunity and give it one.By looking at the image below, I have decided to call it “The Hilarion Globular Cluster”.I chose the name Hilarion (which means “chearful” in ancient Greek) because, the image I took sort of looks like the joker on a playing card.


Image credit:Andrew


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