Hello everyone… (spooky voice)…I’m baaack !.
It has been one of the roughest Winters I have seen in quite some time. We didn’t get as much snow this season ,but the cold was brutal. Mainly temps well below typical averages for Vermont,USA
I must say, clouds have been non stop since early November,with all of January totally cloud covered.
We did get a small window of clear skies the other night,and temps were tolerable .Only 23 degrees F !!.
With the lack of observing/imaging for a fair share of the Winter season. The floor of my observatory had almost 1.5 inches of ice coating. That meant,everything on the floor was embedded in ice. Not fun,considering a power strip,usb cables hanging from the mount,and a chair were firmly attached to the floor. I spent a hour chopping ice ,and now am ice free. Yaaaay me!! 😀
When not shivering from months of cold,I spent my time tinkering on my pc ,and telescope mount. My laptop screen crapped out,so I replaced it. Also,I changed the battery in the main unit of my mount. It now runs great.
My short window of clear skies yielded me a nice shot of M-51. I have imaged this galaxy before,but not with as much detail as my new camera has given me.
Image credit: Andrew
Archive for astrophotography
Hello everyone… (spooky voice)…I’m baaack !.
This past year have brought us some exciting celestial wonders,and great science knowledge have been achieved. I am talking about comets. Their have many opportunities for all of us to explore,and grow. Some comets have been just quiet wanderers.,never getting their chance in the media lime light. They come into the inner solar system, seemingly “guns blazing” ,and then quietly return to the outer reaches,never to be seen again in our life time. Others, get noticed right away,and a media frenzy begins. People speculating (mainly media) ,about how bright or how big of a show it will be. Comet ISON was a prime example of the over hype from the media. ISON put on a good show for it’s final journey. The sad part of the over hype ( IMHO ) is,most people get excited to see a amazing sky show,but when the event ends, people just go back to their daily (or nightly) routines,like a arm chair quarterback. Never giving thought that,just because one event has ended. doesn’t mean the arena has been shut down. Their are still wonderful objects in the night sky that are putting on their own show.
Yes, their are some comets in the Northern sky that are visible. Two comets are on display in the Northern sky,and located near the constellation Ursa Major a.k.a… the Big Dipper. Both comets are within reach of small telescopes. Although, one of them, Comet Linear is a dim mag + 11.61,and might be difficult to see in a small scope,depending on sky transparency. The other one, Comet Panstarrs is much brighter at mag + 8.4 . Comet C/2012 K1 (Panstarrs) can be seen as a faint,but distinguishable gray smudge. This smudge gets brighter as your eyes adjust to the darkness. I had known about these comets for some time,but time,and cloud cover had put them on the back burner. Leaving me with only small windows of opportunity to observe the other wonders of our solar system and beyond.
With the forecast of clear skies last night. I decided now was the time to check out one of the comets. I chose comet Panstarrs as my target,as I felt it would be a good time to check my mounts goto accuracy. By the way….. it performed flawlessly!!. I entered my observatory at around 9PM last night. The sky was a tad bit light to the west due to sun setting 45 minutes earlier,and the stars were just beginning to show themselves. It took a while to actually see the “gray smudge”,but when I did see it. I knew I had a comet in the eye piece. It took a short while later before I decided to connect the CCD to the scope. This turned out to be a fiasco…LMAO!. The stars were nice and round ,but as each image was acquired,and stacked. The comets nucleus on the stacked image became stretched,showing multiple heads. I haven’t down loaded the final images yet,but will when I have a few extra minutes to spare.
After a couple hours of trying,I went to my backup camera. The DSLR for some prime focus imaging. This worked out quite well I must say!!. I snapped a couple test images to check my focus,and nailed it the first time!. The temp in the observatory was getting getting cold,so I opted for only a couple shots before shutting down. I managed a 4 and a half minute unguided exposure without star trails.Since the screen on my dslr is small. I didn’t get a full look at my work until I loaded the images onto my laptop. I must say “WOW”!. The comet was green as I expected. What I didn’t expect was to get the galaxy NGC 3877 in the same shot!. NGC 3877 appears dim,but in my defense. It is after all, 50 million light years away!!!.
Comet C/2012 K1 (Panstarrs) is expected to brighten in the next few months,making it almost a naked eye comet. I really doubt that, as it is quite small,but one can hope!.
Sometimes I like to share images depicting exactly what I see through my telescope. I am always inviting people stop once in a while,and well, look up at the sky. I have posted many times on Facebook,about the sights/events most of my friends are missing. About how they need to take a moment out of their “busy lives”,and see what I see. I like to think of myself as a time traveler. I am a subscriber to the best reality show ever made: Space . With a never ending episodes,and the occasional dramatic Super nova. Aside from the cost of my equipment, it is a free show!. I like free things 😉 . It is almost overwhelming to see light coming from the sky above can be 1.25 seconds old or 125 million years old, or even 2.5 billion years old!!.
The point is, spread the word 🙂
Below is a image of Jupiter and 4 of it’s moons. As I mentioned, this is exactly what I saw through my scope on March 18,2014.
Note: Most all is exact,except for the color. Most of us can’t see color through our scopes ,unless we are viewing a bright star.
I had another evening with the scope last night. Actually, I had gone to bed ,but through my window I could see how clear it was. So,I got dressed and spent about a hour in the observatory.
The sky was clear ,but waves of high altitude turbulence kept distorting the images.Turbulence is bad for imaging. One moment you can have a crisp image on the monitor,and then nothing but a nasty,distorted fuzzy blob the next moment.
I did get a few decent shots though. The image below shows Mars polar cap.
It has been a while since my last post. This 2013 has been quite a busy and stressful!. To set the scene; earlier in the summer,I was helping a friend move some granite pieces. Well, I managed to crush my fingers. Being quite far from my home (and not wanting to travel 3.5 hours for follow ups) I drove to Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital. The flopping fingers drew the Doc’s conclusion to amputate. Ummmm….NOT happening!. They fixed me up and “Hey, I can still give a high five instead of a high 3 and a half….lmao!”.
The garden: The weeds grew faster than the veggies !.
The weather: Clouds,rain. Not good for observing!.
The move: Not exactly moving ,but more of a replacement. This has kept me busy all by itself. Plus, my other obligations.
Once in a while I have been able to get out to the observatory for some imaging.
The past few months have been dedicated to stellar events. With a few typical objects tossed in for good measure.
As we all know,our skies have become a play ground for comets. Currently their are 4+ in the Northern hemisphere.
The headliner for the season is Comet ISON. Which seems to have come alive in the past several days. Currently comet ISON is at a visual mag of + 5.28 ,and will reach perihelion on Nov 28th at UTC 18:24:48
The image below was taken at 5 am on September 12th. At the time,it appeared through the scope as just a ever so slight smudge when using averted vision. Since it was low in the Eastern sky and at a visual mag of about +11.44. It was severely washed out from the approaching sunrise.
The next comet in our North skies is Comet Lovejoy. This comet although considerably dimmer than comet ISON is actually much easier to see. It is located East of the constellation Orion. Even though it is dimmer,it is almost directly overhead. This means it has less atmosphere to go through and is also away from the morning twilight.
The striking part of this comet is,it appears as a bright smudge of light. Much like seeing M13 on a hazy night.
The morning I shot the image. I had just awoken ,and didn’t have my morning wake up coffee. I fired up the scope and got the comet centered on the Pc monitor. The imaging program I use,requires me to draw a box around one star,and then another box around another star. This allows the program to track and adjust the images as they are stacked.
As I began stacking images,I was suddenly getting severe star trails. I fought with this for over a hour. All the time using choice words. I couldn’t get my head around what the problem was. I mean,after all,my scope was drift aligned and every other image I had taken was fine. I ran out of patients ,and was about to shut down. When suddenly…. it struck me. Like a addict without his coffee fix,I had drawn a box around the comet nucleus instead of two background stars. The program was doing what it was instructed to do,and use the comet as a tracking tool. The comet is moving MUCH faster than the back ground stars. Fast enough for me to actually watch it move through the star field.
I quickly drew a new box around two background stars ,and suddenly I was getting decent images.
Comet Lovejoy ,like ISON appears green in color.
Been a long while since I have posted on my blog. LMAO…glad I still remember my password!.
Anyway….life as of late has been up and down. I lost my dad last April. It has been tough not having him around! 😦
On the good side of life,I have a wee bit more time at the moment for star gazing. Albeit cold, I HATE the cold!.
Santa was very giving to me this past Christmas and I found a brand new Neximage 5 in my stocking!. It is a nice 5 Mega pixel that has much higher resolution than the Meade LPI that I was using. *Funny story time!*…. I asked Santa for a new imager because, the LPI I have been using got zapped by static electricity. I was sitting on a plastic chair in the observatory when I suddenly stood up to adjust the ccd imager. All of a sudden, I felt and heard a snap coming from my hand. I looked over at the monitor and the live image of the sun that I had just been watching,had suddenly gone from a crisp image to a live screen with multi colored lines. In disgust,I left the camera for dead and made a Christmas plea.. After getting the new cam, I was about to junk the LPI when I decided to give the crippled cam one more college try. hey…it worked!. Only after I tweaked the video settings. Some how the static shock scrambled the settings! Hmm, live and learn I guess?!. One nice aspect of the new Neximage 5 and it’s higher resolution is,I can see waaaay more detail on the suns surface than ever before!.
So, as I have poured over the web,it is supposedly not possible to get the PST to focus with a Neximage 5. I had tried about everything I could think of when it suddenly hit me. Why not use the lens I got with the MaxDSLR adaptor I bought 5 years ago. Voila, it worked!!!!!!…Yaaaaay!
Just in time because, solar activity has really picked up in the past couple months.
I will be posting some older images of the sun in a few days.
I will however post a few shots I took this early afternoon.
I set my sights on the sun once again today, and WOW…their is some really serious activity going on.
I noticed a huge prominence on the suns eastern limb and a smaller looping prominence on the the western limb.