Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Air & Space Museum at Dulles, Virginia

I was in DC for business last week, and stayed an extra day to check out the Smithsonian Air and Space museum annex at Dulles Airport in Virginia. It's about 30-40 minutes' drive from DC proper, and entry is free. There is a US$15.00 parking fee, however.

The museum itself is fantastic. It's like three large aircraft hangars brought into one building, and it's chock-full of amazing aircraft and space assets. Notable exhibits include the Space Shuttle Discovery, an SR-71 "Blackbird", the Enola Gay and an Air France Concorde. The museum has different sections for space flight, early aviation, WW2 aviation, the Cold War era and modern military. There's an IMAX theater there as well which is currently playing Star Wars Episode VII, but also shows some great movies about aviation, one of which being narrated by Harrison Ford.

I highly recommend visiting this museum if you're in the area. It's outstanding. The main Air & Space at the National Mall is very good, but this shows more experimental types.

Below is a picture of the Discovery in all its glory!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Geminids 2015

Ah, the Geminds. Lovely to watch, difficult to capture! This time of year, the weather makes for bad dew conditions, so having a couple of cameras pointing up at the night sky in the cold, late hours makes for difficult capturing attempts. Still, I managed to get the image below of a Geminid zooming near the Orion constellation and Pleiades with my 10-20mm Sigma lens, set at 10mm. ISO3200, 35" exposure.

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.