Father of sidewalk and, I would argue, cheaper astronomy, John Dobson passed away this morning. A big loss to the astro community. Thank you for your contributions to popular astronomy!
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
My daughter and I took our Dobsonian scopes out this past weekend. We had a great clear night on Saturday, and the thin crescent moon sunk below the horizon shortly after we set up our scopes - as did the temperature! We were up at a popular observing spot, the Mansfield Dam in Austin, Texas, frequented by local astronomers and curious others. It had been years since I had been there but felt like some social astronomy. While the skies were clear and steady, the light pollution there was terrible. There has been so much development in the area that it's just not that good a spot anymore for serious observing. Sure, with my 12" I was able to snag some great views of the objects below, but the overall quality of the astronomy from that site has deteriorated a lot.
Having said that, it was definitely fun to hang out with other astronomers, including a few I hadn't seen in a while. One chap had a homebuilt 8" reflector and equatorial mount which offered great views. The old school, home-built stuff is brilliant. Another guy was field testing an astronomy video camera which produced very impressive results.
Anyway, my daughter and I hunted down various objects including:
- M31 Andromeda (Very hard to find visually/manually but got it eventually!)
- M42 Orion Nebula (Always a delight in the 12" Lightbridge - tons of nebular detail despite the light pollution)
- E.T. Cluster (Phone home!)
- Jupiter (Looked amazing, very clear, sharp cloud bands!)
I also tested out some new apps on my iPad, focusing mostly on Luminos. I quite liked it - very clear star charts which enabled me to do some star-hopping to various objects. It had some nice logging functionality as well as data on various objects. Highly recommended!
Til next time, from a darker site!
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Taken in rural, northwest Arkansas, United States.
This is about two hours of star trails, composed of individual 30 second images. You can see a gap in the trails where I quickly had to correct a setting. The forest trees were light painted with a regular white LED flashlight for the first five minutes' worth of frames.
Other than stacking the individual frames, this is all straight from camera with no additional tweaking.
Nikon D7000 and a Rokinnon 8mm fisheye.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
We were blessed with pretty decent skies for the Perseids, despite weather reports threatening clouds. Visually, the meteor shower was quite good! Saw lots of red and green fireballs during two nights of observing, and lots of short, dimmer objects as well. Above is a shot of one fireball piercing the Milky Way over the Texas sky.
Monday, June 17, 2013
I've given the astrophotography and astronomy a little bit of a break for a while. Work and family commitments have kept me away from the dark skies for quite some time. I'm off to Australia soon and hope to take some wide field shots down there. So, I will hopefully have some interesting shots to share when I get back.
In the meantime, check out my new photography site here. I've been spending more time shooting motorsports and photojournalism this past year, picking up the odd official gig here and there.
Have a safe summer, and more astro images to come soon!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This image is a combination of files taken two nights ago (8*8 minute light frames at ISO800) and files taken two years ago (10*8 minute light frames at ISO1250), combined in Deep Sky Stacker. I still had some mild guiding issues the other night, so there's a bit of an issue with respect to elongated stars, and the galaxy could be a bit sharper. For a change, I decided to do post-processing on my iPad using the Snapseed application. Came out OK and the app handled my requirements quite well!