Monday, November 09, 2015

Published in Amateur Astrophotography Magazine

What a treat! My black and white Sword of Orion image was published in this month's edition of "Amateur Astrophotographer" magazine as part of a feature on the Orion nebula. You can check it out here, page 62!

It's been difficult to get out under the stars lately. Central Texas has been deluged with several massive rain systems which have caused flooding and, sadly, loss of life. The meteorologists have predicted a wetter winter this year, so chances are ordinary that I will get much observing time in. We'll see.

I'm also being kept busy with a new project, a 1973 MGB! I bought it back in July, had a great run, then blew a pushrod in the engine. So, it's new engine time, but that's well underway and she'll be back on the road soon. Note it's a convertible - great 360 degree views of the night sky when driving at night!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse

Well, central Texas was completely socked in with clouds last night. We saw fleeting glimpses of the event but nothing to write home about. I did manage to get the shot below through a brief clearing of the cloud activity, though. Taken with a Nikon D7000, 80mm refractor mounted on a Manfrotto camera tripod.

Monday, August 17, 2015

M8 Lagoon Nebula and M20 Trifid Nebula

Taken two nights ago, utilizing a new field flattener I purchased from Orion Telescopes. This image is the full frame image with no cropping, which shows a great flat image end-to-end.

The image quality is okay. I was shooting into the border area between dark sky and a big light dome. Some more data with better focus will improve this a fair bit.

Imaging scope: Astrotelescopes 80mm ED refractor
Imaging camera: Nikon D7000
Guiding scope: William Optics 66mm Petzval refractor
Guiding camera: Orion Star Shoot Autoguider
Mount: Celestron CGEM
Light Frames: 6*6 mins @ ISO1250
Dark frames: 3*6 mins
Processed in Deep Sky Stacker, GIMP, Neat Image and Snapseed.

Friday, August 14, 2015

More Perseids!

I carefully walked through the hundreds of shots I took two nights ago on my laptop, and it turns out I captured quite a few meteors. I was using a super-high ISO (3200) to get them, so the images are rather noisy despite being put through some noise reduction software. Still, you can clearly see the meteors here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Last night, despite cloudiness and distant summer lightning, I looked for the Perseids with my kids for about 6 hours, from around 8:30PM to 2:30PM local time. It wasn't a spectacular meteor shower from my perspective, averaging maybe 5-10 per hour. The clouds moved away at around 10:30PM, but came back at 2:30PM. Flashes of lightning from the distance remained persistent throughout the night, lighting up most of the sky. I saw some decent fireballs and a fair few smaller, short burst meteors. I have seen better displays in the past, though.

Below is an image of one of the meteors that graced itself in front of my 10mm lens towards the latter stages of the evening. I have lots more photos but will need to check those to see if I caught anything else!

Hope you had a decent show wherever you were watching from.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Visual Night Out

The last couple of months have not been too conducive to stargazing for me.I went home to Australia for a while with the best intentions of doing some astro work, but the Melbourne weather had other plans, which included "hosting" an Antarctic polar vortex which brought heavy rain to the area for much of my visit. I caught a fleeting glimpse of the Southern Cross, but that was about it.

I took my 12" Lightbridge out for some visual observations this past Friday. The weather here in Texas was exceptionally warm, but the skies were clear and rather steady. I think I set the scope up, including perfecting collimation, in record time - well under 5 minutes!

Saturn looked amazing. It had been a long time since I have viewed it, and the planet tilt in relation to our position made for a great view. I could clearly see Encke's Division, and several moons. Quite a sight!!!

Other visual targets for the night included the Ring Nebula, the M4 globular in Antares, M13 in Hercules (absolutely stunning tonight!), the Lagoon and Triffid nebulas and the Sagittarius Star Cloud. I also spied the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy which, despite heavy light pollution, revealed the two central bulges of the interlocked galaxies.

Great night out!