The art and science of imaging the cosmos.'s Journal|
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|Thursday, January 19th, 2017|
|Wednesday, January 11th, 2017|
|Thursday, June 7th, 2012|
Venus Transit - 6/5/12
On the 5th of June, much of the world was treated to one of the rarest of all predicted events - a transit of Venus across the disk of the Sun. Visible as an extremely dark, sharp 'dot', this is the silhouette of planet seen against the intensely brilliant disk of our Sun. Though visible throughout the states, only beginning to mid-transit would be visible on the East Coast - more the farther west you went. (The entire event was visible from the Pacific Ocean)
In Northern Georgia, the prospects weren't that good, so our merry band of amateur astronomers and imagers headed north for clearer skies. We met up in a weird little bar and grill (The Pickle Barrel) in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee to eat greasy burgers and deep fried pickles, before heading off to Lookout Mountain.
We couldn't find any good spots in the Nat'l Park, due to either too many trees and/or parking limitations. However, my old astro-buddy got permission to use the home of an elderly widow near the entrance of the park. The view was spectacular
- her back patio overlooked the entire western horizon, and over 1500' above the surrounding area.
We had a few pesky clouds, but better than 95% of the event was visible allowing for lots of images of the event. The sunset was glorious - and some of those shots are more impressive than the transit. *g*
So let's check out the SHINY!Our Group's setup..The 'Unknown Astronomer"One view from Lookout Mountain..( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: busy
|Friday, March 30th, 2012|
Of Conjunctions and Planets
Its been a busy week of planetary and solar system imaging/viewing. Earlier this week, the Crescent Moon made a close pass of first the planet Jupiter ('a bright star') low in the western sky. The following day (March 26), the Moon was in conjunction with Venus (the brightest 'star'). Hopefully, some of you had a chance to observe this spectacular series of conjunctions.
On Monday night, I imaged the crescent Moon, Venus, Mars and Saturn. It was a beautiful, warm spring evening and I hope you'll enjoy the images!
First, the ringed giant Saturn:
This was the last object I imaged, but the seeing was quite good.Crescent Moon (left) and Venus (lower right)( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Friday, November 18th, 2011|
Stuff from the 'hood'
Solar System Images..
I've been a bit slack in posting new shiny. I *do* have a nice selection though, and here are some images of our cosmic neighbors.
Here's a neat little snowball - Comet Garadd, imaged back on Oct 1, 2011
Mighty Jove has been spectacular..October 26, 2011
And a view of the Great Red Spot.Nov 12, 2011
Finally, though still very tiny
- the Red Planet Mars is slowly making a comeback.
Have a nice day and a great weekend! Current Mood: busy
|Thursday, August 25th, 2011|
A neat image of Jupiter..
Imaged over the weekend..
A pretty 'busy' image dominated by the giant planet Jupiter. The satellite Ganymede is transiting across the upper part of the disk (south polar regions). To the far right, is the volcanic satellite Io. Current Mood: busy
|Wednesday, July 13th, 2011|
Space, the final frontier..
Since it is a Wednesday, its time for the weekly SHINY post. I have lots of wildlife and mineral images, but with the final voyage of the space shuttle perhaps a 'space post' would be more fitting.
First off, my latest image of the giant planet Jupiter:
The Great Red Spot is prominent and the South Equatorial Belt (SEB) is now back with a vengeance. For a comparison, here's what the planet looked like last year at this time:
Here's a probably my last image of Saturn for the current apparition:
And as night falls on the elongated lunar crater Schiller
With the end of the space shuttle program - I wonder if we'll even be back to the Moon by 2030. Had we kept up with the Grand Dream
of the 1960's - we should have colonized the Moon and been to Mars if not Jupiter by now. But it was only a dream..
:-( Current Mood: contemplative
|Thursday, June 9th, 2011|
OK, so who won last week's caption this picture
contest? Well there were several good answers, so I broke it done into "G" and "PG13" categories. silme
won the 'g' rated caption, while rick_day
won the most strange/perverse caption. But even if you didn't 'win' - *everyone* benefits by a NEW shiny post.
This time with feeling..
OK, today its fun with 'galaxies' , which were once called "Island Universes" by Edwin Hubble of space telescope fame. I have a number of galaxy groups and clusters that were imaged either at the MidSouth Star Party or my own backyard the past couple months.
Let's start with NGC 5350 Group
- imaged from Mars House.
In the lower right corner, there is a tight galaxy group called Hickson 68
, located around 150 million light years (LY) away. It features a tight barred spiral, a couple interacting galaxies (see the dust/gas plumes?) and several smaller objects (barely resolved in this reduced scale image). In the upper left is a closer, face-on galaxy - NGC 5371.NGC 4725 - the 'spinning tire' galaxy( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, May 5th, 2011|
Before and After..
First, my latest image of the Whirlpool Galaxy
Taken at the MidSouth Star Party - under 'heavy dew' conditions. 8-inch f/4, Canon 1000D - 7 x 5 minute exposures.
Here was a similar attempt at M51 taken last year:( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Monday, March 28th, 2011|
Shooting the Moon!
Most of my astro-images are either long exposures (3 to 5+ minutes of more) or if they are solar system (planets/lunar) - stacked images of 500 - +2000 frames from .avi files. Both require types intensive processing - sometimes taking up to several hours (or more) to complete. None of this equipment is cheap, I have three different telescopes and even the least expensive setup costs ~ 2K dollars.
But a LOT can be accomplished with an off the shelf DSLR and a telephoto lens, combined with a little practice and technique. Nearly last Quarter Moon - Friday, March 25, 2011
Stats: Canon 350D, at 280 mm (75 to 300MM Telephoto lens), ISO = 400, F/7.1, 1/250 second
Processing: Adobe PhotoShop CS
This was a simple "point and shoot" image. No tripod, or even a shutter release. Just a series of images taken at several different exposures, f stops (called "bracketing the exposure") and processing the sharpest one.
The only trick was 'breath control' - to reduce camera vibration. Current Mood: accomplished
|Sunday, March 20th, 2011|
|8:12 PM Super Moon rise 03-19-11
|8:16 PM Super Moon rise 03-19-11
|9:12 PM Super Moon rise 03-19-11
|Tuesday, February 1st, 2011|
Don't mess with the planetary man..
One full day of Planetary Imaging...
It started out with Saturn at "o'dark thirty" and the "serpent storm"..
Then brilliant Venus crept out from behind the tree line just before sunrise..
And then in early evening, Jupiter was visible sinking into the western sky.. Current Mood: busy
|Friday, January 7th, 2011|
Solar Eclipse & the ISS
Today's NASA Observatory Image of the Day on Facebook was the following image... I had to share as this is probably the wickedest and awe inspiring thing I have seen relating to Astronomy in a very long time. Everyone knows the station is up there, and everyone knows that the astronauts up there take images of what they see (I love looking at them), but this kind of all puts it into perspective... at least for me.
The Photographer is Thierry Legault
Who has done some other amazing images. There's one of the full moon and a GREAT shot of the ISS in front. I only wish I knew how to set that up with my camera/telescope to get some of these amazing images.
|Wednesday, January 5th, 2011|
|Monday, December 20th, 2010|
The BIG Solstice Show!
Total Lunar Eclipse - TONIGHT
After nearly 3 years absence, North America will have a NICE lunar Eclipse with the earliest traces beginning at 12:55 AM. The first signs of the 'dark shadow' or umbra
starts at1:33 AM, while totality begins at ~ 2:41 AM and lasts until 3:53 AM. This is nice, slow and majestic event - and one that can be enjoyed with only one's eyes - or binoculars.
|Penumbra first seen?||12:55 am||11:55 pm||10:55 pm||9:55 pm|
|Partial eclipse begins||1:33 am||12:33 am||11:33 pm||10:33 pm|
|Total eclipse begins||2:41 am||1:41 am||12:41 am||11:41 pm|
|Mid-eclipse||3:17 am||2:17 am||1:17 am||12:17 am|
|Total eclipse ends||3:53 am||2:53 am||1:53 am||12:53 am|
|Partial eclipse ends||5:01 am||4:01 am||3:01 am||2:01 am|
|Penumbra last seen?||5:35 am||4:35 am||3:35 am||2:35 am|
More details on the lunar eclipse, where it is visible and neat factoids can be found here - *clicky*.
Will I be ready - well, what do you think?
Of course, I'm planning on 'hitting' this event with some heavy imaging gear. Here are 2 out of three imaging rigs that I will be using:
Note the Shadow Kitty as 'scale'. (She was NOT amused!).
The Only question will be the weather. Its a mixed bag for my part of the sky - partly cloudy, with increasing clouds later in the evening. However, "Clear Sky Clock" is more optimistic (often more accurate) than the weather gurus. To use the "Clock" - the "clicky"
and find your state and/or enter the appropriate data.
Hopefully, the Sky Gods will provide enough breaks in the weather for the good old doctor to post pretty eclipse SHINY later this week.
So, are any of my readers planning on observing/imaging this event? Current Mood: bouncy
|Friday, October 22nd, 2010|
New mounts for old..
On the last day of the Peach State Star party I channeled my inner "horse trader". I traded away two smaller scopes + a mount for a larger mount (and much more expensive) + C11 optical tube. On a purely $$$ side, I did quite well - but the real benefit will be a computerized mount with a much larger capacity. The new CGEM mount is near maximum limit, which may be the main source of my tracking problems. The CGEM can carry 40 lbs, the CGE - more than 70.
OK - here is the "new" CGE mount (left) and my CGEM mount (right):
The C11 tube is visible behind the CGEM - as a dark blue tube with an orange attachment rail. It could prove to be an excellent planetary imaging scope when upgraded with a better focuser.
And now, the SHINY!
These incredible images where taken by fellow astro-imager Paul Tankersley
at the Peach State Star Gaze. He uses only a 106mm refractor (4-inch) on a beautiful, high end mount to achieve near image perfection. M78 - in Orion..( Read more...Collapse ) Current Mood: busy
|Tuesday, August 10th, 2010|
Imaging with one hand tied behind my back.
The title says it all.
The last 2.5 years my color camera imaging attempts have been sabotaged - and it was totally preventable. To reduce the massive size of my .avi imaging runs, I've been using a codec
recommended by Imaging Source
(maker of my cameras).
Problem is, I never really checked my settings.
So while I was getting excellent compression, my images where getting excessive pixelation. The bottom line - the resolution was being reduced by a factor of 2 to 3x.
Saturday night, after pixelmonster
's hand-fastening, I decided to image Jupiter. The LX200 mount was acting totally bizarro, at one point the drive stopped working. After an hour of reboots and resettling parameters (plus MUCH cussing) - I was ready to image with the "new" lowest compression settings.
Check the results:Before.. Last Saturday..
Amazing, isn't it.
The Debayer Array used by my color cameras were the most severely affected, but there should be improvements in my RGB imaging with the monochrome camera too. Current Mood: relieved
|Monday, July 26th, 2010|
Last Night's Full Moon
(Canon 350D, 300mm at f/7.1, 1/400 sec).Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colors from our sight,
Red is gray and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
- Day's of Future Past, Nights in White Satin Current Mood: contemplative
|Friday, June 4th, 2010|
Crazy Jupiter Stuff
Yesterday, NASA made a report that last year's Jupiter impact was the result of an asteroid strike. Only a few hours later - Anthony "The Bird" Wesley (Australia) and Christopher Go (Philippines) recorded a massive fireball striking the giant planet.
. The impact lasted only a couple seconds, but it was recorded by planetary CCD cameras. More details and a link to the fireball movie can be found here.
Absolutely incredible - not only for the weird news synchronicity but to have two amateurs record a short and very rare transient event is amazing.
And 'hot' off the presses - the latest image of the fireball:Jupiter and the Fireball:
So far, I've seen a couple low-resolution images of the planet taken from Western Europe. Neither have shown an 'impact scar', but that doesn't mean there isn't any. I hope to get a chance to image that hemisphere this weekend - if the damned weather EVER cooperates! Current Mood: bouncy
|Tuesday, April 6th, 2010|
Solar System Shiny
Have any of my readers been watching the evening 'dance' of Venus and Mercury?
Tonight is the 'closest approach' of these inner planets, so if you have good, clear skies and a low western horizon - starting looking around 30 minutes after sunset. Venus will appear first as an extremely bright 'star', and the dimmer Mercury will be to the right of it.
An Image taken by A fellow Stooge on April 1st.
This was also the night of the Great Redneck Inferno
- which would get so bad that I seriously considered calling the fire department.
Also taken that night (after the fires went out) was this stunning image of Saturn:
Finally, a small and very cloudy image of mars taken on Sunday night.
Mars is rapidly pulling away and getting smaller each night. But some interesting details are still visible - such as the bright white clouds over the peaks of the giant Martian volcanoes and the shrinking North Polar Ice Cap.
Next week I'll be headed off to the Mid-South Star Gaze for observing and imaging under good, dark skies. The new astrograph is almost ready to go, just a few more guiding and test runs to do. Current Mood: artistic