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, January 1, 2009

First Light!

Kim and I (and the dogs) went to the Ranch for Christmas. We spent about a week in the Hill Country and I was able to do a lot of astro imaging of course! In fact, I was able to test my new scope and give it "first light".

Christmas Eve was crystal clear and beautiful. I set up the new LX200 10" and Borg guide scope. I did not have too much time, since we were going to be getting up early on Christmas morning to drive to Austin for Christmas day to visit family. Anyway, I decided to go for Bode's Galaxy -- a classic spiral galaxy that is fairly large and bright.

Everything went surprisingly smooth for a first run with new gear. One thing I learned quickly -- everything is much more difficult at longer focal lengths! For the past few months I have been doing wide field imaging with the Takahashi FSQ 106 with a focal ratio of F/5. But the new LX200 is a much narrower field at a focal ratio of F/10. What does this mean? Well, it means that any slop or error is amplified and becomes a much bigger deal. It also means that the "seeing" (rippling atmosphere) plays a much bigger role.

One thing that became immediately clear is that my guiding needed to be REALLY spot on. This means you have to tweak it a lot to get it just right. This was a little difficult since I could not bring the Borg guide scope to exact focus (I need an additional spacer ring). So, I guided on soft focus stars -- but I got it to work.

So here is the first image from the new system -- Bode's Galaxy. It is just under 2 hours of exposure.
I still need to address a few things with this rig, but overall I am really pleased with my initial results. I can finally go after some "tiny" galaxies and planetary nebulae -- yea!


Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

Amazing. JUST beautiful! WOW WOWOWOWOWOW!


Stargazer Ranch said...

hey John,

Superb, as usual.