Tuesday, November 12, 2013
It has been a while since I took my telescope outside. I tried on Sunday night, but the clouds rolled in and couldn't see anything. Tonight I thought that I would try to make another Moon Mosaic.
The problem with Moon Mosaics is that I use an Alt / Az mount which means that when you take images, especially with a webcam, there is a certain amount of rotation. The result is that the individual images don't fit together exactly leaving parts that are a bit blared.
This image was taken tonight with the alt /az mount and Skywatcher 80ED Pro. Maybe next time I will try again using my Skywatcher 130m on it's EQ2 mount.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
The ATV captured from my garden with Canon EOS 350D about 10 sec exposure.
Had some fun over the last weeks with some really bright passes of the ISS over England and the ATV following to try to catch up!
I watched the launch live and then a couple of days later watched it passing over about 30 minutes behind the ISS. The ATV is quite bright and also on the same trajectory as the ISS, but much faster.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
During a wonderful May weekend it gave me an opportunity to image the Sun in all it's glory along with a great display of sunspots. These images taken with my Skywatcher 80ED Pro and Baader solar filter. I used my Canon EOS 350D camera.
The Sun imaged with blue filter fitted.
The Sun in white light.
Friday, April 26, 2013
I really wanted to capture a full moon, but with the Moon being quite low and lots of clouds I opted for the only clear night. So here is an almost Full Moon!
I captured 29 separate avi's with my Philips Toucam Pro II and Skywatcher 80ED Pro. First stacking the avi's with registax, then stitching the best images together using iMerge. I did try out for the first time Microsoft Ice, which is a very impessive app, it did a fine job of stitching the images, but you could see the brightness variations.
Friday, April 05, 2013
After a few night Comet hunting I finally managed to capture this little beauty! I think it is because it is so low down that it is difficult to see with the atmospheric 'blur' and light pollution. Now that the comet has got feinter, but at the same time moved up towards the Andromeda Galaxy it has become easier to find. I used my proven method of following the the two stars from the W of Cassiopia to find Andromeda and then set up the camera to look in that general area.
I used my Canon EOS 350D and 200mm zoom lens on a tripod sat on top of my garden table to get the height and see over the fence.
I'm really pleased with these images!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
After days of cloudy evenings finally we have some fairly clear, but very cold nights. I have had several attempts to image Comet Pan-STARRS which has been lying low in the West / Northwest sky.
The problem is that I can't find it! I know where to look, but maybe it has gone feint now. I can't even see it with my binoculars. On Wednesday 27th March I took my Canon EOS350D out at dusk to a good location to finally nail this comet. I got some beautiful sunset photos...but NO COMET!!
I'm sure that somewhere on these images is Comet Pan-STARRS can you help?
I can see plenty stars...but where is the comet?
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Now something that is lacking in this country at the moment is SUNSHINE. The last time we had any decent sunny days were last May. Since then it has either rained or snowed!
We have just had three days of lovely sunshine and clear nights. A good chance to image this strange phenomena called sunshine!
Sunspots at the moment are quite small, but there are reports of Solar Storms. This image was taken with my Skywatcher 80ED Pro, Canon EOS 350D and Baader Solar Film filter. I also used the Red colour filter.
Sunspots in white light taken with the Philips Toucam Pro II. Strange how the colour filters don't seem to make any difference, they still come out white.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Moon imaged on Tuesday 19th February made up of 6 out of 10 BMP images.
This is my first attempt at making a mosaic image of the Moon. I often thought about trying to produce one, but I was always a little put off by using layers on Photoshop to assemble the mosaic.
After seeing a wonderful mosaic Moon that Will Gator put onto Twitter the night before I felt inspired to give it a try.
The sky was clear and the Moon nicely placed very high in the sky, so now was a good opportunity. I set up my Skywatcher 80ED Pro scope and Philips Toucam Pro III webcam. First I took some images of Jupiter that was very near the Moon and then turned to the Moon itself to make a series of AVI images to stich together. At first I got a little ambitious and used a 2x barlow lens then took a series of about 20 images hoping that I had covered the whole surface of the Moon. Next I took 10 AVI images without the Barlow lens.
After coming inside, I used Registax to stack the images to produce 10 BMP images. What do I need to do next? I didn't really want to use Photoshop, so I downloaded iMerge, which is a programme that I have not used before. I was amazed with iMerge! It is so easy to use, all I needed to do was identify my 10 BMP images or AVI's and import them into iMerge. The rest is like making a jigsaw assembling the images together. iMerge will fit the frames together perfectly automatically and even adjusts the brightness levels.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Last night I went into my back garden and set up my Skywatcher 80ED Pro and Canon EOS 350d with a hope of capturing the 'close shave' asteroid 2012 da14. Although visible at around 7.30pm it was only just above the horizon with a mag 7. To be able to capture it I needed to wait until about 9.30pm to catch as it passed through the 'pan handle' of Ursa Major which sits high in the North East.
Although I couldn't see the asteroid through the telescope, I knew where it should be, so took a series of photos with a long exposure to try to see the trail. Unfortunately, the telescope wasn't tracking accurately, so I still had some star trails.
It is amazing how the meteor hit Russia at the same time as the near miss of asteroid 2012 da14...makes you think!
Here is the path of Asteroid 2012 da14:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
This image was taken by the Bradford Robotic Telescope requested by the children in my class at school. Stargazing Live inspired the children to find out more about space, so we decided to submit a job to BRT. The result was amazing and the children were really excited when the image came back and I showed it on the big screen in my classroom.
We also sent in a request to try to image 'Tracy's Star'. Tracy works with me and her husband gave her a gift of a named star from the International Star Registry. The star's name is called Trebad and with the supplied star chart came the exact RA and DEC location of the star. The children entered the RA an DEC co-ordinates into the BRT job and today the result came back. Amazing! Now Tracy can actually see her registered star for real!
Monday, January 14, 2013
Last week I watched 'Stargazing Live' on television. A wonderful programme which inspired me to go out in the cold with my Skywatcher 80ED Pro and do some imaging. It has been weeks since we had a clear night, but on Saturday the seeing was excellent!
Jupiter was high in the Southern sky and very bright. Very close were the Pleaides and Hyades. I have not set up the telescope to image for a while now and had to think carefully what to do. Took around 30 minutes to get things right and set up the software. I decided to use the Philips Toucam Pro II webcam to try to image Jupiter with the 2x Barlow lens fitted. The tracking on the telescope was perfect and had Jupiter dead centre with no movement at all.
The images above were taken with 3000 frames of AVI at 10 fps. Then stacked and processed using Registax 3.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
I treated myself to one of these for Christmas!
A few weeks ago I borrowed one of these to see for myself how this tiny Newtonian would perform. The one I borrowed was the SkyWatcher Firstscope, but it is identical apart from the external markings. I was so pleased with it that I decided to have one myself.
There are times when I like to be able to look at objects without having to set up my Skywatcher 80ED Pro or Skywatcher 130m. They are so big and bulky when you just want to have a quick look. The Celestron Firstscope ticks all the boxes, it is a small compact Dobsonian and folds
neatly. It takes up little space and is a tabletop telescope that sits nicely on my windowsill to view the Moon from my bedroom without even going outside!
It is not really suitable for Astro-Imaging as the focal length is very short and I can't even get the Philips Toucam to reach focus with the focus unit. I can with a barlow lens fitted, but then the focus is not sharp enough.
I use my own set of Plossl eyepieces which are much better than the ones supplied by Celestron, although, the Skywatcher version supplies much better eyepieces and also a viewfinder. I decided to go for the Celestron because it was only £39 and I already had my own viewfinder and eyepieces. I find that the 25mm eyepiece works the best. The Skywatcher version costs around £55.
Celestron FirstScope Telescope - General Features
- High quality Dobsonian style stand with a 76 mm reflector optical tube make FirstScope an ideal entry level astronomical telescope.
- Portable and lighweight table-top design makes it easy to store, transport and setup your FirstScope Telescope
- FirstScope is very easy to observe with, the user simply navigates the night sky by moving the tube in the direction of their desired object.
- Stylish and decorative design makes FirstScope a wonderful keepsake for anyone interested in astronomy.
Optical Design : Dobsonian Reflector
Aperture : 76 mm (2.99 in)
Focal Length : 300 mm (11.81 in)
Focal Ratio : 3.95
Eyepiece 20 mm
Magnification 1 : 15 x
Eyepiece 4 mm
Magnification 2 : 75 x
Weight : 1956.12
Friday, December 21, 2012
This is and amazing piece of of archetecture in Reykjavík, Iceland. It looks just like a Space Shuttle!
Well, it seems that the Mayan Calendar didn't mean that the world would end today after all. I guess they just ran out days.
The story of the Mayan Calendar is very interesting, today ends a 5,125-year "Long Count" Mayan calendar. A new cycle starts tomorrow for another 5,125 years. Time measurment was complex and relied on observations of the heavens. It is said that today all the planets line up on the same plane in the Solar System. I'm not sure about that, but there has been a lovely planetary alignment just before dawn on the 10th and 11th December. From my front window I could see Mercury, Venus and Saturn together in a line in the Eastern sky and a beautiful cresent Moon. I got up at 6.30am with my binoculars to look at this spectical. Mercury could be seen easily with the naked eye. As the Sun started to rise Mercury faded leaving a very bright Venus and and Saturn. I didn't have my camera set up, which is a shame. I would like to have captured the image.
Friday, December 14, 2012
This is my very first telescope that I got for Christmas when I was nine years old.
When I was at primary school one of my friends was Steve McGuffie. He was in my class and new lots of facts about astronomy. I remember that he told me that the Sun was 93,000,000 miles away. He had a lovely little telescope with proper glass lens' and had a magnification of 30x30. I was amazed when I looked through it and how clear everything was. I asked my father to buy me one for Christmas and was sooo pleased when on Christmas morning I had one just like the one that Steve had with proper tripod and case.
I loved it and use it lots of times looking at the Moon, Venus and Jupiter from my bedroom window. It was a wonderful instrument!
Then, one clear night, I set up my telescope to look at Venus from my bedroom window. It was quite tricky to see it, so I had to balance the scope onto the edge of the windowsill. I was so determined to see Venus that I knocked the scope over and it fell out of the window with a crash to the concrete floor below.
The primary lens was smashed! I was so upset that I cried, it would never work again. I kept it for quite a while, hoping that maybe I would be able to find another lens. As well as the lens, the metal thread also got damaged and kept falling out. Such a shame...a lovely telescope!
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Sad new today about the death of Sir Patrick. An honourable man who inspired many from different generations.
Last night I stayed up late watch 'Sky at Night' about Mercury and Apollo 17. The last programme as we know it.
I have watched Sky at Night since I was little back in the 60's and 70's. When I was about 9 years old my Dad bought me a telescope for Christmas. It was a lovely little telescope!
I watched the Apollo 11 landing and walked on the Moon with Patrick Moore and his team. I now have the DVD of the whole thing. Patrick was an eccentric scientist a bit like the Doc in 'Back to the Future' but he was able to explain even the most complex systems into language that even children can understand. He also had an amazing sense of humour, I remember the Christmas 'Morcambe and Wise Show' with Patrick in it.
Eric Morcambe once said "You can see Patrick Moore on a clear night" Now you can...look to the stars!
Patrick died during the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17 and also in the same year as Neil Armstrong.
The life of Sir Pat:
Sir Patrick Moore
"My education was disjointed. The plan was Prep. School, Eton, Cambridge - I never made any of them. During my boyhood I was handicapped by heart trouble; I managed my Cambridge entrance exams externally, but then came the war, and I joined the RAF as a navigator with Bomber Command (I admit that I wasn't 100% honest about my age or fitness, but when I was found out it no longer mattered, and Flight-Lieutenant Caldwell-Moore was not even told that he had been a naughty boy). At the end of the war I returned home, then to East Grinstead. Cambridge was still open to me, but it meant taking a Government grant, which went against the grain. I prefer to stand on my own feet.
My interest in astronomy went back to the age of 7, and I had several slices of luck; a small observatory was near me, I was able to use it, and I published my first paper (about the Moon) when I was 13. After the war, I wrote a book about the Moon; it caught on, and writing took over my life - farewell, Cambridge! I set up my own observatory, first at East Grinstead and then Selsey, and since then I have been a freelance writer.
My aim was to spread interest about astronomy; in 1957 I began my TV series The Sky at Night, now in its 54th year of an unbroken run. Many leading astronomers and astronauts have joined me. I hope I have achieved my object, but that must be left for others to judge. I have been over most of the world, from Antarctica to Death Valley, so I have seen a great deal.
I won't bore you with personal details. Suffice to say that Lorna, whom I was to marry, was killed by a German bomb when we were both twenty (1943!) and so I remain, very sadly, a bachelor. My mother, to whom I was devoted, stayed with me; she died in 1981. I am now 88, and not very mobile, again thanks to the War. But until the age of 78 I was still playing cricket. I am well looked after in my Selsey home - and do not forget my two all-important cats, Jeannie and Ptolemy!"
Friday, December 07, 2012
Today was a sad day 40 years ago, the very last Apollo mission, Apollo 17 launched at night to the Moon for the very last Moon landing. I wonder if we will ever go back to the Moon?
This morning when I came to work I could see the Moon shining brightly. It was almost smiling at me saying "When are you coming back again!" The Moon is so important, a staging point for longer journeys. A laboratory on the Moon instead of the ISS. One day we will return...but with peace...not money!
The launch is awesome to watch and listen...
Friday, November 30, 2012
A beautiful sight on Wednesday of the Yule Moon with Jupiter sitting just 1 degree from it on a cold, crisp night. As the Moon was in the East, I cannot see it properly from my back garden, so took some images through my window. Though this is not ideal, I was quite surprised at the results.
This image taken using the Philips Toucam Pro II webcam with the Skywatcher 80ED Pro. 100 frames stacked in registax with the colour saturation turned up to show the subtle colours.
I also managed to image Jupiter even though it was very close to the bright Moon. For this I used my Philips Toucam Pro II webcam with just 200 frames of AVI and then stacked in Registax.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
The Sun today with yellow filter fittedl.
A beautiful sunny day and the last day before we put the clocks back...so today I set up my Skywatcher 80ED to try to capture a final image before Winter of the Sun and it's sunspots. The sun was quite low down and often was masked by trees, but I think I managed to capture some reasonable photos.
This afternoon we had some beautiful cloud formations. I am trying to decide whether these are in fact Lenticular Clouds. They could be seen in the West and appear to line up with North winds that blew today. Just to the North of the clouds is Winter Hill which is about 1250ft ASL. The clouds remained stationary for a long time even though the winds were quite strong.
Have I seen a rare event today?
The weather was sunny today, but very cold with a biting North wind.