Archive for August, 2007

Mother nature celebrates Laborday weekend

Posted in Lightning, Photo on August 31, 2007 by Andrew

At the moment it appears that we here in the NewHampshire USA,are in for a wonderful clear Laborday weekend so,I will definitely have my scope out.The clear skies have yet to arrive but are forecasted to be here for most of the three days that I have off.Wow,did I do somthing right???.Three days off with clear skies!.We had a small cold front move through last night and with that front came some of Mother natures fireworks.From 4pm to 11pm we were under a sever thunderstorm watch/warning.We didn’t recieve the heavy rain that they were forcasting but,we did get lots of lightning.Most of the lightning were of the  cloud to cloud variety which lit the sky nicely but,a few were cloud to ground which caused the thunder to rattle the windows a bit.I love a good thunderstorm don’t you?.I just hope we get the clear skies that they are forecasting!!!.

Below are just some of the images that I took last night.

Astronomy on the run

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Moon, Photo on August 28, 2007 by Andrew

My day began early as usual,with one exception…..a lunar eclipse.Having to drive 45+ minutes to work,I didn’t have the time to setup the scope so,I took my camera along for the ride.5am-My first stop was to the local gas station.Where I quickly grabbed the camera and took a shot of the eclipse.While putting the over priced gas into my car I noticed a woman with a pair of bino’s watching the event.Not really being the chatterbox type before my morning coffee,I gave in and said “the moon is really giving us a show this morning”.To which she replied”it sure is but,we had better enjoy it because we will probably never see it again in our life time!”.Befuddled,I couldn’t help but to ask her what she had meant by that.”Oh,this is a once in a life time eclipse”.Huh?.Maybe it was the lack of morning joe but,for some reason I found myself a bit irritated by the remark.I politely(or as much politeness as I could muster)told her that we had just recently had one and if not mistaken,will be having another in mid February?!.Well,enjoy the lunar eclipse I said as I hopped in the car and drove away (heh,yes,I paid for the gas).My next stop was Dunkin Donuts for my beloved java where once again,I snapped another shot.Don’t ask me why I did because,it had only been a few minutes?!.5:15am-Ok,got my coffee and I am on my way.I drive for perhaps 12 miles or 15 mintutes and notice that the eclipse was about 60%.I once again pull into a gas station and grab another shot.Thinking that I might have a chance to get a totality shot (as I normally pull into my work place parking lot by 5:52am),I hop the interstate and drive like a crazed LUNARTIC….hahahahaha,sorry I couldn’t help myself!!!. As I drove the early morning highway,I kept a close eye on the progress of the eclipse.Sadly,the farther I drove the foggier it became until finally, my last sight of the event was just a small sliver of light.Oh well,I still got a few shots but,no full eclipse.Next time,weather permitting!.

05am

17am

32am

Sunspot 969

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Photo, Solar, Star on August 26, 2007 by Andrew

It took a bit of convincing but,I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and capture some images of sunspot 969.I set the scope up at around 11:30am to allow some time for the scope to equalize to the outside temps.In my case it was to warm up the scope!.My goodness it was hot!.Hot…and miserable.At the time these images were taken ,the temp was 92 degrees and dew point of 74 degrees.Talk about a shock to the system!.A couple days ago,the temps struggled into the mid 60’s with dewpoints in the mid 40’s degrees.I awoke at 7:30am this morning and immediately noticed how warm and humid it was so,I turned the ac on and it has been running nonstop since.While my home was cooling off,I checked out the SOHO website for images of the new sunspot which came into view a few days ago.Even though the new spot isn’t the biggest I have seen,it is still a awe inspiring sight. Note:Never look at the sun without a proper solar filter or blindness will occur!. The images below were taken with a Pentax ist DS DSLR at prime focus/a-focal projection and were processed with PS Elements.

Another note:Don’t forget about the Lunar eclipse on August 28th.For more information on this event,pay Michael a visit over at MountWashingtonValleyAstronomy .

Prime focus

A-focal

Lunar crater CLAVIUS

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Moon, Photo on August 24, 2007 by Andrew

Not much has been happening here on the observing front.The weather has been the biggest factor as clouds and on and off rain have thwarted any thought of bringing the scope out for fresh air.So bad in fact,I haven’t seen the moon since last Saturday afternoon.At least we haven’t had the drenching rains that other parts of the country have been going through.The forecast for the upcoming weekend doesn’t look very promising either….*sigh!!*

Clavius is one of the largest crater formations on the moon, and it is the third largest crater on the visible near side. It is located in the rugged southern highlands of the moon, to the south of the prominent Tycho crater.Due to the location of the crater toward the southern limb, the crater appears oblong due to foreshortening. Because of its great size, Clavius can be detected with the unaided eye. It appears as a prominent notch in the terminator about 1-2 days after the Moon reaches first quarter. The crater is one of the older formations on the lunar surface and was likely formed during the Nectarian period about 4 billion years ago. Despite its age, however, the crater is relatively well-preserved. It has a relatively low outer wall in comparison to their size, and it is heavily worn and pock-marked by craterlets. The rim does not significantly overlook the surrounding terrain, making this a “walled depression”. The inner surface of the rim is hilly, notched, and varies in width, with the steepest portion in the south end.

The image below was taken using a 10″ Meade LXD75 SN and a Meade LPI.It was processed with Photoshop elements.

Note:Lunar crater Clavius can be found on the right side of the image.

Information courtesy of wikipedia

Image credit: Andrew

A Space Odyssey

The DSI’s first light and review

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Globular cluster on August 19, 2007 by Andrew

The wait is over for the new camera’s first light and I must say that I am impressed.After a few tense days of wondering if the camera was going to function correctly.I set the scope up and gave it a trial run.The camera ran pretty well although,their seems to be some software glitches that I am unsure how to fix.The first problem is;the imaging program keeps locking up which is simply irritating.The second is that I keep getting something like a stack over flow error.Ummm…ok.So I click ok and it runs smooth for a while and third is,it seems to take entirely too long for the live images to refresh.I wonder if having 60ft of cable running from my scope to my desktop might have something to do with it?.Oh well,at least I was able to get a idea of how well it can perform.One of the nice things about the new toy is that I can image and stack 30+ second exposures without the worry of star trails due to slight errors in the drive.Another question that was bugging me was whether or not I was going to have to keep running up and down the stairs every few minutes trying to keep the object centered in the eyepiece hence the monitor.The answer is yes but,only after 30-40 minutes had gone by!!!.If I can get past the software errors,I should/hope to be able to take some wonderful detailed images never before captured with my scope.

Below is a shot of M13 that I took with the new camera.It is a stack of 10/20 seconds exposures .I used PS Elements for processing inwhich I resized and sharpened,with a slight tweak in contrast. Given the poor sky conditions I am quite happy with the result!.

Oh and on a side note.I saw the old lady in the Hovaround chair again.I didn’t speak with her as she was in the parking lot next to my house, driving around in circles and yelling “WHEEEE”!. HAHAHAHAHA!!!I think the doctors upped her meds?!. 

DSI first light

The Double Cluster

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Open cluster, Photo on August 18, 2007 by Andrew

This week has been rather exciting.My long awaited Meade DSI arrived on Tuesday and I have been eager to get it up and running.I was in a good mood until I loaded the software that came with the camera.All went smooth until I connected the camera only to find that their wasn’t a start button to click for imaging.So,I decided that maybe I should uninstall and try again…….nope!.3rd time…..nada.4th time…not happening…..Grrrrr!.Well,after 3 days I had all but given up hope in getting it to work.Note: I am no computer whiz!!!.So,I emailed around and made a few phone calls to see if anyone knew what the problem could possibly be.The people I contacted were very helpful but,the problem still didn’t get resolved until this afternoon.Turns out the problem wasn’t the software but  operator error a.k.a……ME!.Anyhoo,I spent this afternoon/evening trying to get it focused on a terrestrial object which didn’t turn out too well due to the fact that I need to focus on a well lit object and it was turning dark.Oh well,tomorrow is another day!!.

The image below was taken last Saturday night with my 10″ Meade LXD 75.According the forecasters and the clearsky clock it was to be a good night for observing.Hmmmm,well that didn’t happen!,The skies were clear but,the seeing was terrible and the transparency was almost as bad.Not giving up,I decided to get a few shots of a one of my favorite open clusters.

The famous double cluster in Perseus was known in antique times (probably even pre-historically), and first cataloged by the Greek astronomer Hipparcos.Both clusters are situated in the Perseus OB 1 association, and also only a few hundred light-years apart, at a distance of over 7000 light years. They are both quite young: h is listed at 5.6, chi at 3.2 million years (Sky Catalog 2000); their hottest main sequence stars are of spectral type B0. They are approaching us at 22 (h) and 21 (chi) km/sec, respectively.

Information courtesy of:www.seds.org

Image credit:Andrew

The double cluster

M15

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Globular cluster, Photo on August 10, 2007 by Andrew

Did I miss something???…..I thought the rule was,you get one nice weekend of clear skies per month and the rest of the time the skies were suppose to be crappy?!.Well whoever changed the rules,I LIKE IT!!!.Thats right,for the second weekend in a row,we have been  forecasted to have clear skies and low humidity,which means with a new moon, observing should be at it’s best for this time of year and yes…..the batteries are fully charged for my camera this time!!.I will however,buy a fresh set just in case,even though they are rather expensive.Also,I have placed a order for a Meade DSI (deep sky imager).Meade authorized dealers are having a blowout sale and are selling them for $99.US dollars.I couldn’t let the good deal pass me by!.Heh,I’ve said it once and will say it again “astronomy is a money pit”but,in a good way!.

On a side note*We will be treated with the Perseids meteor shower which peaks on Sunday night after 9pm.Last year, I was treated to a brilliant fireball that streaked across the sky from east to west.The one neat thing about that particular fireball was the fact that my brother,who lives about 150 miles due west of me saw the same fireball!.Pretty small world we live on eh?.

The image below is one of the shots I took with my Pentax ist DS DSLR before the quick charged batteries died.I say quick charge because,they were only in the charger for an hour.The image was taken in A-focal projection,which is a change of pace for me because,I like the wide FOV of prime focus.It is a 45 second exposure and the ISO 1600.Typically,I don’t normally have my ISO set so high due to the extra noise but,since I was shooting with a 26mm eyepiece I felt that I could reduce my exposure time and possibly counteract the PE in my drive which would result in unwanted star trails.

Located in the constellation Pegasus,M15 is among some of the brightest globs in the Milkyway at +6.2 mag and is approaching us at 107 km/sec.

M15 is about at the limit of visibility for the naked eye under very good conditions. The slightest optical aid, opera glass or small binoculars, reveals it as a round nebulous object. It appears as a round mottled nebula in 4-inch telescopes, with at best the very brightest stars visible, but otherwise unresolved in a fine star field. In larger telescopes more and more stars become visible the outer parts are resolved, with a more irregular, non-circular outline. The compact core, however, stays unresolved even in large amateur telescopes, but the brightest stars can be glimpsed even there. Chains and streams of stars seem to radiate out of this core in all directions, but less concentrated toward the West.

M15 can be found extremely easily: Find the 2nd mag star Epsilon Pegasi, and Theta Pegasi SE of it. Follow the line from Theta over Epsilon and find M15 3 1/2 deg W and 2 1/4 deg N of Epsilon. A 6th mag star is about 20′ away to the East, another one of mag 7.5 about 5′ to the NNE.

Information courtesy of :http://www.seds.org/

Image credit:Andrew

M15

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