Welcome to my Astrophotography Blog!

This is a journal of my adventures in astrophotography -- taking images of distant celestial objects. Please look around and feel free to add your comments, questions, and critique to any of the entries by clicking the "comments" button on the bottom of each entry -- or just say "howdy!

And don't forget to click on the images for a larger view!

So choose either the Red pill or the Blue pill and follow me down the wormhole....


Comanche Springs Star Party

Comanche Springs Star Party
Doin' my thang at the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (where I often become a "red ghost")

Dallas Sky

Rancho Venado Sky

Atoka Sky

Camanche Springs Sky

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moon Over Newport

Just got back from a trip to Rhode Island. Kim and I visited our friends Bob Eggleton and Marianne Plumridge (Bob and I are working on a top secret project... shhhh)!

Of course, I am always on the lookout for celestial spectacles so when the near full moon began rising over Newport I snapped some pics.

Usually the moon is the bane of astrophotographers (since its light washes away the dim deepsky objects), but on the other hand, the moon is a wonderful object unto itself. In fact, many astronomers and astrophotographers devote themselves almost exclusively to it.

At any rate, it was a beautiful site last Friday night.

But regardless of its beauty, I am counting the days until it goes away so I can get back to some deepsky targets again next week!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mad Scientist

My wife Kim once remarked that I looked like a "mad scientist" with my glowing astro gear in the middle of a field late at night.

Very possibly.

It does seem a bit crazy at times to drive way out in the middle of nowhere, set up all this hi-tech gear in a dark field, and stay up all night until the sun comes up. But like the song says, "if doing astrophotography is wrong, I don't wanna be right". That was a song, right?

Anyway, this pic is me at around 3:00am in Atoka about a week ago (when I shot M101 and the Iris -- I'd be shooting the Iris at this point). No, my laptop is not electrocuting me -- this was a 60 sec. exposure, and those "electric arcs" are just my red flashlight.

It's kinda strange. Shooting this astro stuff really reminds me of the old days of shooting animation on the big Oxberry camera. It was a similar vibe -- shooting in the dark, late at night, constantly checking your settings, never really knowing what you have until the images are "processed" later.

Ah, the more things change the more they stay the same. Hmmm... maybe I was a "mad scientist" in a previous life.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Pinwheel Galaxy

This is M101, otherwise known as the "Pinwheel Galaxy". This sucker is BIG -- we're talking 170,000 light years in diameter big! Imagine that... if you could travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) it would take you 170,000 years to go from one side of this galaxy to the next. Dude, that's seriously big.

M101 is parked very close to the handle of the Big Dipper. You'll notice the little companion galaxy to the lower right -- this is NGC 5474. But if you look closely, there are a BUNCH of galaxies in this field. In the larger version of this file I can see 19 galaxies (although there are probably many more) http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3022/2655611999_b83c991837_o.jpg

This was taken at my session last Saturday night in Atoka. Some clouds moved-in and tainted some of the data. I plan to try again and go much deeper on this object : )

For more info on this galaxy click here http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m101.html

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Iris

This is the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023). It is a reflection nebula in Cepheus. The bright star in the center shines light on massive clouds of dust, yielding a blue reflection. Other dust clouds serve to obscure the region and dim the surrounding stars. However, if you look closely you'll notice the clouds have a slight luminous Red tint -- the dust itself emits infrared radiation, and a low level red light enters the visual spectrum.

Isn't science neato?

Anyway, I went back to Atoka last Saturday night armed with a new astro-camera, the QHY8. It uses a 6 megapixel Sony chip (the same as in some Nikons), but it is super cooled to -20C, works at 16 bit, and is tuned to take loooong exposures of faint objects. And the best part is IT WORKS! Man, I'm loving this camera. It is virtually noise free.

So I spent another all night session imaging. There were a bunch of folks up at the site. We ate ribs and stargazed until the sun came up. I met a bunch of cool people. Really a great night.

I'm still processing data. More images are on the way! Next up, a HUGE galaxy... M101! You don't want to miss that do you? Stay tuned...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Dance of the Veils

The Western Veil to be exact!

I love this object. How did that bright star know to sit so perfectly on the edge of the nebula? Really beautiful...

The Western Veil is part of the larger Veil Nebula -- a supernova remnant from a star that exploded about 10,000 years ago in the Cygnus constellation (1,400 light years away). The entire object is also referred to as the Cygnus Loop. It is HUGE!

The Western Veil is also nick-named "the Witches Broom". Can you see it? I wish I would have taken longer exposures and it would be clearer. As it stands, I shot about 100 minutes of exposure time.

I took this shot from my first imaging trip to the TAS club site at Atoka, OK. It was a beautiful night! I shared the stars with my new pals Max and Jim. We shot and observed until the sun came up and washed-away the stars. Cool.

Here is a larger crop : )