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

Monday, April 27, 2009

Scorpius Rising

Hey! I just got back from the Texas Star Party near Fort Davis. It was a blast! Kim and I spent all last week there and had a lovely stay in one of the motel rooms (cabins really) at the Prude Ranch that hosts the event each year. I had 4 beautiful clear nights out of 5, so I am quite happy. We also had many other adventures in the area (McDonald Observatory, Alpine, Marfa, etc.). I will write an "official" report soon...

But for now, here is the first processed image from my trip -- the constellation of Scorpius, rising with the Milky Way. This awesome sight appeared each night about 3 a.m. and was definitely something worth staying up for!

I imaged this target over 2 nights, collecting data with both a 28mm lens (for the entire constellation) and a 85mm lens (for the detail around the Rho area in the upper middle). The image data was collected with my Modded Canon XSI, f/4, ISO 1600. I used the AstroTrac for unguided tracking. Total exposure is a bit over 3 hours.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Big Bite of Auriga

Well, I've been putting together a new "grab and go" imaging rig that I can travel with and set-up quickly. I wanted something that could be carried in a small backpack and fit into airline overhead storage. So I have chosen an AstroTrac and a Hutech Modded Canon XSI camera.
I will post images and a full review of this new rig soon. But for now, here is an early test image of this new rig.
This is a very wide field that captures about half of the Auriga constellation. There are many objects here including -- M36 and M38 (the two star clusters towards the top of frame), IC 405 and IC 410 (the red nebulae in the center), and the bright star Elnath at the left. Be sure to click on the image for a LARGER view.
Canon XSI (Hutech Modded)
Nikon 85mm lens
ISO 800
28 x 3min

Monday, April 6, 2009

Galaxy Season Continues

Why so many galaxies this time of year? Well, it is partly because at night during this time of year, we are looking away from our Milky Way's galactic core and out into deep space. During the summer, our views are populated by the vast rivers of stars, dust, and nebulae from the spiral arms of our own galaxy. But looking away from our galaxy in the Spring reveals the great desert of space, populated by millions of other "tiny" galaxies that are unobstructed by our Milky Way.
Every star and large nebulae we see are part of our own Milky Way. This is why there are not too many wide field targets in the Spring, since we are looking away from them.
Anyway, here is a shot of M81 & M82. They are a lovely pair in the northern sky and one of the few wide field targets available at this time (framing them together).

Here are the stats:

FSQ 106 ED f/8
QHY8 camera
13 x 15 min
Maxim, CS3

By the way, you may recognize M81 as an image I took (by itself) at Christmas time with my LX200 scope (with a lot more magnification). Here it is for comparison :

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just Passing By...

Looking at close-up shots of these HUGE celestial objects can be very abstract -- there is no easy way to relate to them. Okay, mentally picure the distance of 25 million lightyears. Did your brain explode? Well mine does. So I am interested in somehow showing the relationships between these massive objects so that I can start to develop a better sense of them.

A few days ago, the Moon passed very close to the Pleiades. So I took the opportunity to try to image the two icons together. I used a new rig (an AstroTrac with a modified Canon 450D, Nikon 85mm lens, and mixed with some higher res data taken with my Takahashi FSQ scope). This was an interesting blend of gear and technique. As you can imagine, there is a HUGE dynamic range between the incredibly bright moon and the relatively dim Pleiades, so processing this image was tricky.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy it. I'm pleased with the results and look forward to capturing other interesting "fly-bys".
Image taken on 3-30-09