Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Details: 37 minutes (effective) @ ISO 1600 | F/5.6 | 800mm | Takahashi EM200 Mount
Details: Comet centered sum of 37 images.
Details: Cropped and inverted version of comet centered image
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Below - a view through a 3.5 inch Questar. Canon EOS 1D | ISO 100 | 1/30 sec @ F/16
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Ursid Radiant from 12:25 UT to 13:30 UT December 22, 2007.
Ursid Radiant from 01:15 UT to 03:00 UT December 23, 2007. No meteors but lots of aircraft and a couple of satellites! Its a crowded sky ain't it!?!
Friday, December 14, 2007
The astronomical expedition began by selecting the observing site. With no moon out for the event, I considered a dark site somewhere in the desert or up at Kitt Peak. I wanted to have the cameras mounted on my EQ Mount so I could track the radiant and have a better chance of summing images showing the actual radiant structure of the Shower. Problem was I knew it was going to be cold and the dew point was going to be close to the ambient temperature. Camera and mount drive batteries don't last long in low temperatures and the exposed wide angle lenses I planned on using would most likely suffer from the humidity. I would need AC power to run the mount, camera battery chargers, and a hair dryer.
Kitt Peak observatories were closed the night before the shower maximum with high humidity and temperatures near -3 degrees Celsius and the availability of AC power was limited to areas where domes and building would block a significant portion of the sky.
In town, my home has similar visiblity problems if I setup on the ground. I had significant success from the roof of my house earlier this year during the Aurigids and decided that the convenience of working from home outweighed the drawbacks of the suburban light polution. Home I would stay and after several back-breaking climbs up and down the roof of the house, I finally got the mount and cameras setup just before sunset.
The sky was partly cloudy at sunset and improved prior to my start time of 10:00 pm that evening. No concerted effort was made to temporally count meteors over the course of the night - as I spent most of the time either tending to cameras and lenses or in the house trying to recover from the cold. On the occasions I did observe I noticed that the meteor rates were quite high - typically I would see 5 to 7 in the space of a 5 minute interval and at other times I was able to see 3 or 4 in a single minute. This was noticed rather early in the shower - around 2 am. As it got later - fewer meteors seemed to present themselves.
Visually the shower was quite impressive. Photographically, not so much. Although I had very wide angles of coverage and fairly fast optics (using a f/3.5 8mm circular fisheye and a f/2.8 15mm full frame fisheye) I was only able to capture about a dozen meteors in over 5 hours of effort. Sigh. Bottom line - the Geminids are a wonderful visual treat. Photographically however - its a tough sale. Results are shown below.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
A negative view of the same image showing low contrast detail.
Below - same mount - Canon 5D | 300mm F/5.6 lens | ISO 400 | sum of five 2 minute exposures.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Comet 17P/Holmes is in outburst! Two days ago this periodic comet some 2.4 AU away from the Sun and 1.6 AU from Earth, brightened unexpectedly by a MILLION fold from 16th magnitude to nearly 2.5! You can read more about it here.
The above image was obtained through the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory 2.3 meter telescope atop Kitt Peak. The large round outer coma is about 2 arcminutes in diameter as viewed from Earth - or nearly 87,000 miles across - the size of the planet Jupiter! Given that this shell of dust was generated two days ago (~50 hours) that works out to be a expansion rate of almost 870 miles per hour! Quite a bang!
Credit: University of Arizona - Paul Smith, Dennis Means, Dave Harvey.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
While enroute to the telescope our chief pilot managed to achieve a mid-air with a swarm of bees! A most awesome event as you can see.
Below is the vacuum pumping station and CCD dewar that we trained on. Pretty cool eh?
After running with the "Big Dogs" for two days, our instructor (flashing the gang sign and with a pole coming out of his head - geez and I call myself a professional!) shows us how its done.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
A five hour long exposure of the 2.3 and 4 meter telescopes atop Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson. Actually this is a composite of 545 seperate 30 seconds exposures taken last night from that venue. Moonlight from the first quater moon illuminated the domes for half of the sequence hence the "daylight" appearence of the the buildlings. Brake lights from cars headed down the moutain after the nightly public evening illuminated the 2.3 building during a few of the exposures giving that telescope a red highlight. Details: Canon EOS 1D | Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 L lens at 24mm | 545 x 30 seconds @ F/3.2 | ISO 1000