Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another one of those rare clear nigths.

Got a brief peek at the moonless sky last night.  Back to rain again today, but had to take advantage of the clearing and try something.  It's always tempting (greed maybe?) to become a photon hoarder when we get some clearing like this.  I had to resist the temptation to try multiple objects and just stick with one thing for the evening.  Ok, I did try a shot at the ISS pass earlier, but like most times, my exposures weren't right and I just got some smeared view of solar panels.
I stuck with one thing and took 15 images at about 5 minutes each of NGC891.  This little guy is 30 million light years away...just some trivia to make your brain go "ping!".  ISO settings were mostly 800 ISO and I took a few at 1600 and mixed them in there.  Scope was the 12" LX200 at f/6.3 with the Canon 350D.  Click image for a full size view.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Slice of the atmosphere.

This is a very long and skinny image so you'll have to click on the strip on the left to see it.  This is an interesting diagram/slice of atmosphere showing the heights of a bunch of familiar things.  Interesting to see that Spaceship One made it a little higher on a single engine than the main engine shutdown altitude of the space shuttle.  Of course the shuttle is going a LOT faster and can stay in orbit while Spaceship One falls back down.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another clear night with Jupiter.

Got another decent and stable evening last night.  The moon was out and bright, so the deep sky imaging is pretty much hopeless right now for the faint stuff that I like chasing.  The brightest thing in the sky now (not counting the moon) is Jupiter of course. 
Comet Harley is way over to the Northwest until way after midnight now, so it's out of view of the observatory since it's behind the big tree now.
Here is one of the Jupiter images.  Its taken with the 12" Meade LX200 with the 2.5x Apo barlow, and the Philips SPC900NC webcam.  Stack of about 250 images. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Same "UFO" seen in Port Angeles, now over New York City!

Sometimes don't you feel ashamed to realize that you are a member of the same species as these people?  Easy to see that reporters for the Fox Network (yes, the same network that brought us the infamous "Moon Landing Hoax" documentary) don't need any basic common sense to maintain their jobs.   If you look blond pretty and can speak and maybe read a cue card  (slightly) you qualify for a decent reporter job in the biggest city in the country.  Don't worry, even at minimum wage, you'll be earning more money than your IQ!
Same thing goes for the Fox photographer, point a camera and focus, don't worry about what you are seeing.  They probably all heard that Mars was as big as the full moon in August, but Jupiter will be closer to Earth than it has in the last 50 years....but only very few poeple know that.  Let just call that bright thing in the Southeast a UFO!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Comet, planet and fear of the attacking UFO

A couple weeks ago, Jupiter reached opposition. That is when the Earth is exactly lined up between Jupiter and the sun.  Therefore, Jupiter will rise at sunset, be at it's highest point in the sky at midnight, and set at sunrise.  Also, it's the closest point the planet will come to the Earth, and appear at it's largest in telescopes.  This opposition will be the closest pass to Earth in almost 50 years.  Next time it's this close will be in 2022, so get out and take a look at it.
Those who don't understand the basics get a little confused and probably frightened of the bright thing in the sky and feel they need to call 911 for protection against the alien spacecraft!  Some people in Port Angeles, Washington are now famous (and probably learned a little about astronomy) in the recent clear nights here in the Northwest since they have called the authorities to report a UFO in the sky.  Fortunately, officers knew that the danger was only Jupiter and informed them not to fear the big planet.
I took a few shots of Jupiter last week and here is the best of the batch.  My astronomer friend David and I got together on a cloudy night and combined our processing skills and came up with this nice image of the planet.  The dot on the left is the volcanic moon Io.  The image is made from a stack of about 250 images taken with a cheap $40 webcam on the 12" Meade LX200 scope.
I then swung the scope around to the east and captured some images of Comet 103P/Hartley which is just passing below Cassiopeia these evenings.   The first image is 11 images stacked with the comet head as the reference.  The next is an animation showing the movement of the comet over a period of about an hour.  See here for location in the sky of the comet. (click image below to see the animation)