Archive for telescope

Sunspot #1024

Posted in astronomy, Astronomy links, astrophotography, Photo, photography, Solar, Space, Star, Sun, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by Andrew

Once again,the sun is begining to show signs of activity.I received another email from about the sudden appearance of sunspot #1024 which has been growing quickly.According to the site,solar class C  flares have been almost constant in the sunspot region,giving astronomers around the world a chance to dust off their scopes and image a not so quiet sun.My initial reaction to the new activity was of utter disbelief as I looked at the new spots on the SOHO website which is a great site for real time images of the sun.The magnetic polarity of these new spots indicates that they are the newest members of Solar cycle 24 which,is becoming more intense as the solar jet stream stimulates sunspot production.

The image below was shot at prime focus.

Click for larger image


The images below were shot with afocal projection using a 26mm eyepiece.

Click for larger image.


Image credit:Andrew

imformation credit:,SOHO


Sunspot #1023

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by Andrew

I received a email alert from yesterday alerting me that the sun has a pair of new sunspots which are now visible.I was bit upset about this due to the fact that not only do I have very little time to observe but,we have been under a thick layer of clouds for the past month+ as well.Why is it that whenever we have a bit of space excitement Mother nature always seems to be a wet blanket?.I refer to having new sunspots as space excitement only because the sun has been spotless for such a long period of time.I have officially stopped listening to the local weather forcaster (as of this morning) because they never get the forecasting right.I went to bed lastnight with the impression that I would be waking up to typical cloudcover.When I awoke this morning I was quite thrilled to see absolutely clear blue sky!!! 🙂 .Once again the forecasters got it wrong but,hey I’m not upset.In fact I”m glad they screwed it up!!!.After I had my gallon of coffee (heh,just kidding….it was only a half gallon!),I quickly set my big scope up and faked the alignment.Gotta hurry cuz,my guess was that it would turn cloudy again and it did after a couple hours.With a few puffy clouds drifting past I was able to get quite a few images of the new spots only to delete them due to DIRTY LENSES 😦 .Hmmmm,well I did image spots,just not the type of spots that I was trying for!!.Thats right…I haven’t used the scope in such a long time that it had sadly become a dust magnet *crowd boo’s and hisses*.With little time to spare I performed a quick cleanup and managed to get a few more shots before the clouds moved back in.

According to these new spots are from new solar cycle 24..

From – The magnetic polarity of sunspot 1023 identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Its appearance coincides with the movement of two solar jet streams into a range of heliographic latitudes that promotes sunspot formation. No one knows exactly how the sun’s deep jet streams boost the sunspot count, but they do. As a result, this week’s sunspot activity might herald more to come.


Imformation credit:

Image credit: Andrew

M51 (Whirlpool galaxy)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by Andrew

I managed to get the scope out for some observing a couple weeks back and was treated to some fantastic skies…Yaaaaaay!!!!!!!.The temps were were seasonable and in the mid to upper 20s F with calm winds.I was going to use my DSLR again but,since the temps were half way decent I used the Meade DSI instead.My thought was that I was going to image the comet with the DSI but,realised that it was directly over head which is good for imaging.Problem is,my scope will give me a alert that the OTA will come into contact with the tripod so,that idea quickly vanished.
Knowing that their are lots of other faint fuzzies to be seen I decided on observing/imaging Messier object #51 a.k.a the Whirlpool galaxy.As many of you know,observing this object from light polluted skies is next to impossible?!.In recent posts I have mentioned how different the skies are from my new location compared to the street observing I was used to.Well,M51 was a object that I had never seen with my scope but,still managed to image anyway.This observing night was well worth the time consuming task of setup and alignment (hope to build…or buy a observatory in the near future! ;p ) and the hoots of a distant Owl seemed like a approval for my decision.Hahahahahaha,actually it was a unsettling sound which made me think of a scene from some horror flick.I had a fantastic view of M51 which,appeared as a faint fuzzy gray patch.That was until I got the DSI centered and focused on it.WOW!!!.This galaxy suddenly went from fuzzy to showing alot of detail including the bridge of gas that is being ripped from it’s companion NGC 5195.
Because of numerous reasons i.e foul weather,work and family health reasons, I haven’t had a lot of time to really get to know the workings of the DSI or find the proper settings that work for my style of imaging…heh,ok I don’t have a style! 🙂 .So,if you see a problem with any of my images and know the solution to fix them,feel quite free to give me a friendly heads up.
Located in the constellation Canes Venatici,M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) is  60,000 light-years across and about 31 million light-years distant.It can be seen not far from the handle of the Big dipper which puts it quite high in the sky in northern latitudes and has a visual mag of +8.4 .
According to the SEDS,M51 is easy and a showpiece if the sky is dark, but is quite sensitive for light pollution which easily makes it fade in the background. Under very good conditions, even suggestions of its spiral arms can be glanced with telescopes starting from 4-inch. Low magnification is best for viewing this pair.
RA 13 : 29.9 (h:m) DEC +47 : 12 (deg:m)
Image credit :Andrew
Imformation credit:


Getting Sirius about “The Dog star”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by Andrew

It has been a while since I have posted a article on a star and I thought now would be a good time.While I had the scope out the other night (finally! 🙂 ) I decided to get a shot of Sirius a.k.a the Dog star (which is Orion the hunters larger dog) .Sirius is best viewed during the winter months thru early spring in the northern hemisphere.It is a blue-white star that packs a Sirius bite….hahahahaha!!.Sorry,I couldn’t help myself!!!.Located in the constellation Canis Major,Sirius is only 8.6 light years distant.Being twice as  massive than our own sun,Sirius is also 20 times brighter at a visual mag of -1.46 and almost twice as hot at 9800 K,hence it’s blue-white color.
Sirius is part of a large asterism,which is called the Winter Triangle, along with two other stars… Betelgeuse in Orion and Procyon in Orions smaller dog,which is called Canis Minor.
Only to be seen with a telescope,Sirius also has a companion star which is called Sirius B *see image below*,a small white dwarf, and is  nearly 10,000 times fainter.This does not mean that Sirius B is cooler than Sirius A.Sirius B, in fact is much hotter at approximately 23,000k and is thought to have been slightly larger than Sirius A at one time in it’s life.This leads me to believe that Sirius B is the older of the two?!.

Image was at prime focus taken with a 10″ Meade LXD75sn and Pentax istDs DSLR.Skies were clear and the temp was in the mid teens F.

Information credit: Stars

Image credit: Andrew


The Orion nebula 2009

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2009 by Andrew

Hey,I finally got the chance to observe/image!!!.Time has been a factor as most of you know and along with the lack of time,foul weather has been putting a monkey wrench into the gears of observing.With clear skies and temps in the low 20’s F I just couldn’t pass at the chance.Having not had the scope out since the last day of August..(heh,I didn’t realise that it had been so long!),I spent the afternoon putting the gear together which included searching for much of the equipment and reconfiguring the autostar for my new observing site.I set the scope up at 5pm which I felt would give the scope ample time to cool down to the outside temps.Again,not running the scope for such a long period of time I was a bit worried that it might have developed some bugs that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.I must say the scope performed nicely with only a couple minor glitches that can/will be worked out at a later time.
One of my first targets was the famous Orion nebula which I give a wow factor of 10!.Again,I am used to observing at a very light polluted site so,seeing this old friend in true dark skies was incredible.I connected the DSLR to the scope and began taking pix.My first exposure was rather short at 45 seconds which would have already begun to show the effects of light pollution at the previous site.To my excitement,no light effects could be seen so,being bold I upped the exposure time to 2 minutes.Fully expecting the shot to be washed out from the headlights of occasional passing cars (not directed towards the scope)I was very pleased to see a image that was as dark as if I had taken a 10 second exposure *see image below*
My next targets (which I will post images of in the next week) were of globular cluster M79 and open cluster M41.Heh,I actually saw M 41 with bino’s and couldn’t identify the object until last night.I then slewed the scope towards Venus but,found it tough to get a decent focus due to it’s brightness.
In all, I observed for about 3.5 hours before becoming completely chilled to the bone with temps that were hovering just above zero.So, I reluctantly packed the scope away for the night.
Clear dark skies = Good!!!!.
Image credit: Andrew


The Andromeda Galaxy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2008 by Andrew

Yes,it finally happened…..I observed from a dark site!!!.

So far this has been the observing/imaging event of the season for me.After a summer full of rain and clouds,we were blessed with some of the clearest skies I have seen in almost a year.

Last week Mike from Mountwashingtonvalleyastronomyinvited me to a incredibly dark site located in the White mountain national forrest for a evening of observing.Words cannot describe the beauty of the heavens that I had the pleasure to experience.Having always observed from a light polluted site,I never truly had the opportunity to see the night sky through my scope.Until this weekend that is.I arrived fashionably late as usual but,still early enough to relax and enjoy a couple adult beverages and get the scope set up.Not being use to the absolute quiet,I was abit disturbed…in a good way!!.The only noise I could hear was the slight rustle of the tree’s from a northerly breeze and the chirps from the native crickets.The temps were warm and the humidity was dropping,which meant that the skies were going to get even cleaner.As the night sky approached,I couldn’t help but,to compare the sky from this site to the night sky that I am used to.The sky in the mountains at 8pm were better than the clearest night at 2am in the city where I observe from and only got better.By 10pm I was in a state of shock as many thousands of stars filled the sky.To put it in another way,I can find the Ring nebula with very little difficulty when I observe from the middle of town.At the dark site I couldn’t find it….heh because,their were so MANY stars filling the eye piece.I didn’t get as much observing in as I wanted due to the fact that I just kept bouncing the scope from one object to another.One of the most amazing sights that I saw was M51.Believe it or not this was the actual first time that I have ever seen it through my scope.Some of you might be thinking huh?….but Andrew….you have pictures to prove that you have seen it…they are even posted on your blog?!.Well,this is true Buuutt,I can’t see M51 from the city so,the images that I have taken are slew to the galaxy and aquire images by the seat of my pants.Yay,I saw it!!!.What a remarkable sight it was too.I would have taken some shots but,as fate would have it,it was setting behind some tree’s  😦  !. So,after the ooh’s and ah’s I slewed the scope to the Sunflower galaxy (which I have seen in with the scope) and again,it was incredibly bright.Ok ok…take a deep breath!.Again,this was yet another object setting behind some tree’s.Can you tell I was bouncing around the sky?. No?.Ok,my next selection were the galaxies M81 and M82.Cover your ears…WOW!!!!!!.These galaxies were so intense looking,I could easily see structure.Why didn’t I try to image them?.I don’t know!.My next stop was the Dumbbell nebula.Once again,I could easily see the whole structure.I tried to image it with the DSI but,for some reason my scope didn’t want to track too well.Well,I know why now.I will save that story for some other time.Did I mention that it was crystal clear?.I was able to see the Double cluster and Andromeda…..without optical aid!!!.Being northerly objects they are usually obscured by the city lights so,seeing them with the naked eye was like visiting old friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.I did manage to get some images but,again my tracking was off a bit so,I didn’t get very long exposures.Below is a shot that I took of Andromeda.I had the ISO set pretty high (because the tracking was off) and I wanted to get as much detail as possible but,ended up getting lots of noise.

Hope you like it?.


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