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....

JOhn

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Autumn Moon

Every year I go deer hunting with my dad -- an annual ritual since I was a kid. But in recent years I do most of my shooting with a camera. Hey, I still love venison (grew up on the stuff) but I am now content to simply watch the deer frolic and take photos.

For me, the greatest thing about hunting was simply getting outdoors and watching nature do its' thing. Getting up early and climbing a tree before the sun comes up (freezing cold!), then watching patiently as daylight breaks and the world awakens. Animals of all sorts emerge to begin their daily routines, while the rising sun slowly warms you. It is spectacularly beautiful and sedate.

So, I was down to the ranch last week and sitting in a blind under a tree. As the first rays of sunlight hit the tree tops, I looked behind me to the West to see this gorgeous image -- the autumn leaves of red, green, and gold framing the waning moon. It was pretty as a picture...

And now it IS one : )

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Famous M42

Once again I look towards Orion. This time to the famous Orion Nebula. This large nebula is a star factory -- birthing stars from the bright hot core. I went deep on this object to try to pull out a lot of the surrounding darker dusty bits.

There is so much dynamic range in this object, I shot my sub exposures at 3 different lengths (30 sec, 300 sec, and 1200 sec) and then combined the results. All total there is about 2 hours on this object.

You can actually see this object with your naked eye (and much better with binoculars). Looking at the Orion constellation, this object resides just under Orion's Belt and makes up the "sword". It appears as a faint, glowing cloud to the naked eye (best seen with averted vision).

My hope is to continue mining the gems in Orion, then combine them all into a widefield image.

Incidentally, M42 was the first astrophoto I ever took (last February). To show my progress, here are my first 2 attempts at this object from last winter...

http://bp2.blogger.com/_UFwZfAXi71E/SB5-v0X3xKI/AAAAAAAAABQ/yqzq_MlJezg/s1600-h/FirstPhoto_Orion.jpg

http://bp2.blogger.com/_UFwZfAXi71E/SB6P_0X3xOI/AAAAAAAAABw/qsyB6XG3N-A/s1600-h/Orion_Final_2_screen.jpg

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Horsey on Fire!

This is the famous Flame Nebula (lower left) and the Horsehead Nebula (should be obvious), as well as several other reflection nebulae scattered about.

This is a very rich field full of lots and lots of wonderful sights. It has a LOT of dynamic range (very faint stuff next to very bright stuff) which makes it a challenge to process.

Approximate exposure time is just under 2 hours. I took this shot with my usual rig (FSQ scope and QHY8 camera) at Ranch Venado over my Halloween stay.

I hope ya'll like it : )

Monday, November 3, 2008

Season of the Witch!

Guess what I was doing on Halloween night...

That's right, I was out in a dark field in Texas collecting photons of the Witch's Head nebula (otherwise known as IC 2118). It is a large reflection nebula in Orion, and it is very faint.

This image was taken with just under 3 hours of exposure -- and I could have used an hour or two more. But I'm pleased with it. And it was fun shooting this witch at the witching hour on Halloween night. It was a great "theme" night!

Kim and I (and our dogs) stayed 3 nights at Ranch Venado where I took full advantage of the new moon and great weather. I have many more images in the works. In fact, I'm starting to acquire more data than I have time to process. Actually, it just means that I get "picky" about what objects I process. Some that I feel are sub par I simply shelve.

I'll have more coming in the next day or two so keep watching.