Welcome to my Astrophotography Blog!
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....
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Heading to Rancho Venado this weekend for a test drive of the new TAK rig and hopefully acquire some cool wide-field targets!
Although I am still putting things together (got my At-66 guide scope, but still waiting on the mounting hardware and guide camera) I should be able to take some decent unguided shots and test the EM-200 mount's tracking.
Although I've been testing the rig, this will be my first opportunity to do an actual polar alignment with my polar scope on the EM-200 (can't see Polaris from the house in Dallas -- big north wall in the way).
Hopefully I'll have some eye-candy to post next week . Wish me luck and check back soon!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
You might ask "hey, where are all those cool new shots with your cool new astro rig?"
Patience, Grasshopper (this reference only works if you were alive and watching TV in the 70's).
I am still putting the system together and waiting for parts:
1) guidescope 2) guide camera 3) extender tubes 4) additional hardware/cabling, etc.
But I have been making excellent progress! I've set-up the new scope several times and tested computer control via The Sky Six software (very cool!), and have solved both AC and DC power solutions. Once I get ALL parts together, I will post the finally assembly.
This is actually a good time of year to be working on gear since the Spring is a lackluster time for the sky (at least for wide field targets). Always interesting stuff up there, but it is relatively sparse right now. Where did all the stars go? I'll tell you...
As you may know, the night sky changes throughout the year -- slowly drifting westward and disappearing over the horizon while new stars rise higher and higher from the east. After a year we come full circle. The most dazzling time of year is Summer and Winter. Why? Because that is when we are looking along the galactic plane of our Milky Way galaxy.
In the summer we look towards the hub of our galaxy and you can see the spiral arm of the Milky Way under dark skies. Within this spiral arm lies a plethora of amazing sights! In winter we are looking towards the outer spiral arms, away from the hub, but still a vast cornucopia of celestial jewels. But in the spring and fall we are looking 90 degrees perpendicular to our galactic plane and out into deep space -- a relative desert. Out there are mostly galaxies and star clusters. Very far away and very tiny. These can be great to image, but require a MUCH longer focal length scope -- these are not wide field objects. Since I'm currently setting up to shoot wide field, I don't have many targets right now. But summer is fast approaching, then I will be shooting like a banshee!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
This is my folk's (weekend) place in the South Texas Hill Country. It is about 300 acres located outside the little town of Adamsville, Tx (about 3 hours from Dallas, or 1.5 hours NW of Austin). And it has good dark skies.Good dark skies are increasingly hard to find because of all the light pollution from the cities.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I can't wait for "first light" with this baby! Yeehaw!
Keep watching these pages....
Monday, May 5, 2008
Iridian is a communication satellite (there are about 66 in orbit). At certain times, the sunlight reflects off their solar panels and cause a huge flare in the sky. These flares last only a few seconds, but they are a hundred times brighter than any star!
I haven't tried to photograph one yet, but it is on my list. There is a cool website called Heavens Above (see my links) that predict when these flares occur for whatever longitude and latitude you happen to be in -- it is VERY precise. Like within a minute. Check it out!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Globular Clusters! M3 & M13.
These are some crazy objects. They are HUGE concentrations of thousands (sometime millions) of stars crammed into a very small area. In low magnification they look like planetary nebulae, but looking closer reveals huge clouds of pin point stars.
These clusters are not part of our galaxy, but do orbit our galaxy in a non-planar orbit (everything else in our galaxy orbits within a planar disc -- which is the shape of our milky Way Galaxy).
These are actually a lot of fun to image and are not too affected by light pollution in the city (as opposed to Galaxies and Nebulae).
This example of the Whirlpool galaxy suffers the same problem. Although not bad (you can easily see the definition of the spiral arms and the companion galaxy), but there is little fine detail and lots of noise.
Here is a shot from my trip to Ranch Venado (my folks place in the south Texas Hill Country) last February. Taken with the Nikon.
The "old moon" raises its hands to cradle the "new moon" (poetic, ain't it?) The sun is hitting only a small sliver of the moon, but the rest of the surface is illuminated by "Earthshine" -- light reflected from the earth.