Tuesday, November 12, 2013

78% Moon

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

ATV on it's way to the International Space Station

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

Sun 4th May 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

Moon Mosaic 23/4/13

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

Comet Pan-Starrs at last!

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

Spot Comet Pan-Starrs

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

Sun 27/2/13

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

Mosaic Moon 19/2/2013

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.

Very impressed!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

ISS, Jupiter and the Moon

Some nice passes of the ISS this week. Tonight's pass was very high and bright and passed through the Moon and Jupiter. A lovely sight to watch!
This image taken with a wide field lens on my Canon EOS 350D mounted on a tripod.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asteroid 2012 da14

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

Orion Nebula

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

Jupiter 12th January

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

Celestron Firstscope

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