Friday, August 3, 2018

A Short Night in the Obs !

After two weeks of smoke from forest fires hindering deep sky astroimaging, the skies cleared up last night! Whoohoo!

 The Gamma Cyn Region
The bright star is the center star of what is known as
the Northern Cross
Specs: 14 minute exposure (made up of 16 individual images)
stacked with DeepSkyStacker, ISO 12800, Canon T3i
Daystar 80mm scope at f/6.5

 The Andromeda Galaxy (M 31) and it's two smaller galaxies
Specs: 15 minute exposure (made up of 15 individual images)
stacked with DeepSkyStacker, ISO 12800, Canon T3i
Daystar 80mm scope at f/6.5

The Western Veil Nebula (NGC 6960)
Specs: 16 minute exposure (made up of 27 individual images)
stacked with DeepSkyStacker, ISO 12800, Canon T3i
Daystar 80mm scope at f/6.5

 The North American Nebula
Specs: 15 minute exposure (made up of 15 individual images)
stacked with DeepSkyStacker, ISO 12800, Canon T3i
Daystar 80mm scope at f/6.5

Tr 37 region
Specs: 4 minute exposure (made up of 4 individual images)
stacked with DeepSkyStacker, ISO 12800, Canon T3i
Daystar 80mm scope at f/6.5

Friday, July 27, 2018

Faux-Total Lunar Eclipse !

While we did not see the REAL total lunar eclipse (it was not visible from the USA), the smoke from the fires around Crater Lake pushed up into central Oregon and as the full Moon rose, I captured these "look-alike" images! They look almost like the real thing, though! Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Moon Crater With "A Ring of Beads!"

On a whim I imaged the Moon July 18, 2018 with my Explore Scientfic AR127 scope using a Canon T3i. I didn't think much about it until I thought I would take an over-exposed image to reveal the "Earthshine" (light from the Sun, reflected by the Earth on the Moon, which is then reflected back to the Earth). 

That's when I saw a kind of weird feature near the top of the Moon in the image.
It appeared to be a "ring of beads"!

Here is a cropped image of the normal exposure:

And this is a cropped view of the over-exposed Moon:

What this is showing is that the rim around this particular large crater was having the sunlight hit just the tops of the rim where there are taller peaks to catch the light, while the floor of the crater is still in shadow! Cool!

I am not sure but it might be the crater called "Goldschmidt"

Flyover by the International Space Station (ISS)

I got a heads-up that the International Space Station would be flying overhead on July 18, 2018 at about 10:36 pm. So I set up with a 24mm wide angle lens on my Canon T3i. I mounted it on a stationary tripod and took a long single exposure of about 3 minutes.
In the lower center you can see the roof of the La Pine Observatory.

First Effort at imaging the Veil Nebula

Things have calmed down some this summer and I was able to get out and do a little astroimaging with my Explore Scientific AR127 scope. I had not intended to make this a long session so I did not do any image stacking which would have improved the quality of the Veil Nebula. This is my first effort at capturing this lovely nebula!
Another day...
Eastern portion of the Veil Nebula region
in the constellation Cygnus aka the Northern Cross

The Western portion of the Veil Nebula region
in the constellation Cygnus aka the Northern Cross

Friday, July 13, 2018

Noctilucent Clouds over La Pine !

On my way out last night to the observatory some unusual clouds were hoovering high up in the atmosphere in the west to overhead. I realized what they were: noctilucent clouds!
See the Wikipedia info on them below the pics!
(Note: clicking on the images should show a little larger view)

This was taken facing south.

You can see the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper
in this image taken towards the west.

This image was taken a few minutes later
facing south again.

Noctilucent clouds, or night shining clouds, are tenuous cloud-like phenomena in the upper atmosphere of Earth. They consist of ice crystals and are only visible during astronomical twilight. Noctilucent roughly means "night shining" in Latin. They are most often observed during the summer months from latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the Equator. They are visible only during local summer months and when the Sun is below the observer's horizon, but while the clouds are still in sunlight.

They are the highest clouds in Earth's atmosphere, located in the mesosphere at altitudes of around 76 to 85 km (47 to 53 mi). They are too faint to be seen in daylight, and are visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in Earth's shadow.

Noctilucent clouds are not fully understood and are a recently discovered meteorological phenomenon. No confirmed record of their observation exists before 1885, although they may have been observed a few decades earlier by Thomas Romney Robinson in Armagh.[1] Doubts now surround Robinson's out-of-season records, following observations, from several points around high northern latitudes, of NLC-like phenomena following the Chelyabinsk superbolide entry in February 2013 (outside the NLC season) that were in fact stratospheric dust reflections visible after sunset.

Noctilucent clouds can form only under very restricted conditions during local summer; their occurrence can be used as a sensitive guide to changes in the upper atmosphere. They are a relatively recent classification. The occurrence of noctilucent clouds appears to be increasing in frequency, brightness and extent.

Summer Imaging Has Begun!

Single image (not stacked)
Meade LX200GPS 8" - Prime focus
Cropped considerably - ISO 800 - Canon T3i

M 13 in Hercules
Meade LX200GPS 8" - Prime focus
Cropped - ISO 3200 - Canon T3i
Stacked with DSS - 10 sec exposures
Stack of about 9 shots

M 27 - Dumbell Nebula
Meade LX200GPS 8" - Prime focus
Cropped considerably - ISO 12800 - Canon T3i
Stacked with DSS - 15 sec exposures
Stack of about 28 - Total integration time: about 7 minutes

Some catching up to do, the Good News and the Bad News:

Good News: After removing my Meade scope from its tripod in the observatory I was able to create a new concrete pier for the scope and wedge. (pics to follow in another report).

Bad News: In the process the scope, being very heavy, seemed to have lost where it was at in terms of RA, so that when I started the scope up it wanted to rotate WAY BEYOND where it should! I thought for a while that perhaps I had damage the RA in some way in the move and was looking at having to plunk more $$$ to get a new scope

Good News: After surfing the WWW for info, I discovered that it was possible to correct the RA problem... and it WORKS great again! $$$ saved!

Bad News: I wish I had made the pier about 10 inches taller... I guess I didn't measure as well as I thought I had.... hmmmmm

Good News: I can still add more height to the pier in the future... just not this year, I think.

I still have to get the wedge and scope better polar aligned as I can only expose for a maximum of 15 seconds, far too short for dim deep sky objects. This will take some time to accomplish...
Ah... the joys of deep sky astrophotography!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

M 101 galaxy taken with Explore Scientific AR127 scope

 M 101
24 - 60 sec images stacked with DeepSkyStacker
ISO 12800 with Canon t3i (unmodded) camera

Here is a single shot (one of the 24 images that were stacked above)
M 101
60 sec image - ISO 12800 with Canon t3i (unmodded) camera

The 127 mm f/6.5 Achromatic refractor from Explore Scientific is an air spaced doublet refractor telescope mainly for visual observing of celestial objects.

The Explore Scientific has 127 mm of Aperture
Focal Length - 826 mm
Focal Ratio - f/6.5
The Explore Scientific 127 Doublet comes with a 10:1 Dual Speed Focuser
Supplied with an 8x50 Finder Scope
Comes with a 2" Dielectric Diagonal
Backed By Explore STAR Transferrable Extended Life Warranty
The Explore Scientific is diffraction limited air spaced doublet refractor. This Doublet is an Achromat that yields amazing images. Perfect for moon, planets, and other celestial objects this refractor offers great value.

Here are some various shots of the Explore Scientific AR127 scope
on my Celestron Advanced GT mount 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Clear skies yield The North American Nebula

The North American Nebula !

The skies cleared so I was able to take this image last night (May 6, 2018) at about 1 am.

14 frames=10 minute exposure at ISO 12800
Canon T3i body (unmodded)
Daystar 80mm APO scope, 500mm
Stacked with DeepSkyStacker 4.0

Friday, March 16, 2018

Unexpected clear skies and a Messier mini-marathon

Last Sunday evening the skies cleared up, to my surprise, well enough to attempt some astro-photography. Of interest to me that evening was the fact that the portion of the night sky that is laden with galaxies was well up in the sky, the region around the constellation Leo, the Lion.
All images taken with a Meade LX200GPS 8" telescope and a Canon T3i DSLR.

First up to image were two globular star clusters:
(Note: click on the images for a little larger view)

Messier object: M 3 - globular star cluster
Notice the various colors of the stars.

Messier object: M 53 - globular star cluster

And then some "open" star clusters:
Messier object: M 35 - open star cluster

Messier object: M 44 - open star cluster
Notice again the colors of the stars

Messier object: M 67 - open star cluster

NGC 2158

Then a host of galaxies, various shapes and sizes!
Messier object: M 64 galaxy
aka "The Black Eye Galaxy"

Messier object: M 65 galaxy

Messier object: M 66 galaxy

Messier object: M 90 galaxy

Messier object: M 95 barred spiral galaxy

Messier object: M 96 galaxy

Messier object: M 98 galaxy

Messier object: M 100 spiral galaxy

The region around M 100 is filled with galaxies!
(satellite streaked the image)

Messier object: M 104 galaxy
aka "The Sombero Galaxy"

NGC 3628 galaxy

Not all galaxies are spiral in nature. Some are called "elliptical" or "lenticular" galaxies". 
They are without any spiral structure. Though not pretty to look at, they are part of the Messier collection of deep sky objects.
Messier object: M 105 elliptical galaxy (upper right)
and the region around it

Messier object: M 60 elliptical galaxy

Messier object: M 85 elliptical galaxy

Messier objects: M 84 and M 86 elliptical galaxies

Messier object: M 87 galaxy

Messier object: M 89 elliptical galaxy

After about 2 hours of imaging 20+ Messier objects and with frost building up on the telescope, I pulled the plug and headed indoors where it was warm!