clear sky chart

Job 9:9

Job 9:9-10
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

114mm Reflector and 70mm Refractor Saturn

I got so used to using the 127mm refractor, I had forgotten the difference between it and the other 2 scopes.

I took a few avi's using each of the 2 scopes.  I normally wouldnt post images like this, but I thought I'd put em up just as a comparison.

The first is from the reflector.  I just could not get good focus.  I checked and made some slight adjustments to the collimation, and star testing showed it to be pretty close.  I did make some small adjustments however.  Anyway, here is the sample image from the reflector:  As you can see, the focus is terrible.  Some of this could be in the clock drive.  By looking at this image, I am thinking that much of the blur came from the clock drive.  You can see blur below the image.

Star testing does show a decent pinpoint in focus, and equal appearance inward and outward focus.
This is from the 70mm refractor.  Because of the lower amount of light captured with these telescopes, I had to run up the gain in the cameras to get an image, and I did not take a flat to get rid of the diagonal lines.  I am seeing the dark northern band and maybe the Cassini, but its difficult to tell, as the diagonal lines produced from the camera makes it hard to tell if I actually resolved it or not.  Seeing appeared to be pretty good, as the stars were quite steady, and the sky seemed reasonably transparent tonight.  So anyway, here is a comparison using the smaller scopes.  There are a number of photos already on here to compare to the 127mm.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

AstroLinux DVD & Saturn

I downloaded AstroLinux the other day.  It is a Fedora based live DVD.  Being I am a longtime linux user, I thought I would give it a try.  I do not typically use linux on the laptops because it doesnt play nice with the wireless in the laptops.

Anyway, being this is a live cd (It runs directly off of the DVD), I thought I would give the software a try.  I was shocked that the software saw the camera, as that is another area that in the past, linux does not play nice with.  After playing with it a little here in the house, I thought the next clear night, I would give it a try.

We had partly cloudy skies at sundown, so I thought I would try shooting between the clouds.  The software that is included takes a series of snapshots instead of an AVI, which is no problem.  I couldnt figure out quickly how to use the stacker on the CD, so I imported the captured images over to this windows desktop for processing.  I will play with the linux software more and will eventually figure out how to use the software.

I processed 2 series of snapshots.  Keep in mind, I was shooting between clouds and was in a hurry, so the focus wasnt perfect, but its close.  I will say, this software looks very promising.

Here are the images:

 captured in Linux

This was a test, running AstroLinux DVD.  Each images is a composite of 100 frames stacked in Registax.

Now on a different subject, notice the facebook app on the side of the page.  I created a Facebook fan page,  and for those who use Facebook, you are invited to "Like" the page, and once you do, you're welcome to post some of your images for all to see.  I'm hoping to see the fan page grow, so if you're a Facebook user, feel free to click the "Like button.  See you there!

Also, stay tuned to this blog page, I am working on an RSS feed from Facebook to a seperate page in this blog.  Any images or text posted in the fan page will eventually be posted in a "Friends" page here on this blog site. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturn 5/20/11

Had a nice warm, clear night tonight, so I decided to play with this camera a little and figure out the optimum settings.  Took a few pictures that I thought were worthwhile.  One of the images, I ran the gain up and lowered the shutter speed to 1/5 second and was able to capture 4 of Saturn's moons...The 5th is touching the ring, so it really cant be seen in this image.  All photos are shown actual upload size.  (clicking on the images will not be resized).  Some images were enlarged in Registax.  All images were taken with the 127mm.  Also, I used the IR blocking filter on all of the images.

From left to right, the moons are Titan, Tethys then Saturn, on the other side, Dione and Rhea is the outermost on the right.

This image is a mosaic, as I had to severely over-expose the planet in order to get all 4 moons.  The image was taken at 0305 UTC.

Some of the better images taken tonight are here:

 This is probably the best image as far as showing the Cassini Division.

This is my favorite of the evening. 
If I can stay up long enough, I'm going to try to take a couple lunar photos tonight too.  They'll be posted in the morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Saturn 5-18

  After another weeks worth of rain, we had a somewhat clear night.  Transparency was about a 3.  Seeing was about 5.  Took some pictures of Saturn using the 127mm.  Although I'm not getting any more detail as I have been, this time I was able to capture Titan in the same frame.  Here's what I got this evening.  This photo clearly shows Titan in this slightly overexposed image.

   Here is a slightly resized image of the one below.   1500 frames stacked.  

original size
This small image above is probably the nicest image of the evening, it consists of 1500 stacked frames.

500 stack, resized.
All in all, the images tonight werent too bad considering poor transparency and high humidity.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More May 11 Images

Because it was so late when I got done imaging on May 11 with the new webcam, I had to wait until the next day or 2 to process and post additional images that I have taken that evening. Because we are in the middle of a thunderstorm right now, I thought this would be a good time to post additional pictures that I had taken on May 11. We'll start with this image of the "North Pole". The South shows a small portion of Mare Frigoris, just above and centered is the poorly defined crater W. Bond. The well defined crater left center is Anaxagoras, and above that and almost centered is, I believe Scoresby.

Next I took a full moon mosaic.  Although I feel like I've taken better quality mosaics before, I'll post this one anyway, as a sample image that was taken without the barlow.  All of the other images were taken with the 2X barlow.

Sorry, a little got chopped off the top, I let the avi get too close to the top edge.

The next image is a mosaic in high resolution of the bottom 1/3 of the moon.  This was a mosaic of I believe 9 images:

In addition to these lunar images, I also took 2 more of Saturn, of which are here:

These images are raw, after stacking and after wavelet sharpening, but are uncropped.  The one on the right used a little bit of camera zoom when it was taken.  Keep in mind also, that these were shot through thin cloud cover.  Transparency was not very good when all of these photos were taken.  I was using the homemade 127mm, X 700 mm fl refractor.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Quickcam 4000 First Light

Well, it came today from ebay.  Picked up the quickcam 4000, removed the lens and took it outside to have a look at the moon.  The images were so sharp and detailed, once I had figured out all of the settings, and there are a lot more than what I was used to with the newer cameras.  What is nice is that you can adjust the shutter speed independent of the frame rate.  I'm beginning to understand why the older cameras were so popular.

This camera is a CCD, whereas all of my other ones are cmos.  I'm going to have to get another one of these, for sure!  I want to do the lx mod on one of them if I can get a 2nd one.  This camera makes an incredible planetary and lunar cam.  Here are a few of the images I have taken with it.:
Appenine Mts


Plato and the Alpine Valley
The Straight Wall

As you can see, the detail is so much better with this camera, I was amazed at what I was seeing on the screen!

While I was at it, I thought I'd shoot a video of Saturn, being the moon pics were so detailed, so here's what I got:

Ok, now for the complete story.  The sky was filled with thin clouds, transparency was not very good.  Seeing appeared good to average.  I took the saturn image too dark, and had to boost the light level to stack it.  It is not as good as it could be.  The camera will take some getting used to before I get everything correct.  Even though the conditions werent too good, this is one of my best images of Saturn so far.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rupes Altai & Caucasus and Haemus Mts

Tonight was a reasonably clear evening, and the seeing was pretty good, so I thought I would take a few higher resolution photos of the moon.  I took new pictures of a couple of different areas of the moon that I had taken previously. 

   I was playing with the contrast a little more - as in increasing it, and I found the images are showing far more detail, as in this image of Rupes Altai.  This photo is in color, I liked how it came out so well, I just couldnt discard the color information in this one.

 Here is a mosaic of 2 images showing the 2 mountain ranges that border the shore of Mare Serenatis.  I believe thes images are my best photos of the moon so far.
This image was photographed in greyscale.

I used the 127mm refractor.  Each frame in both images consists of at least 200 frames stacked in Registax 6. This image I used linked wavelets as an experiment.  Although it does sharpen the image a bit more, it is extremely touchy, and a little goes a long way.

As in all of the images on this website, you can click on the image to see them full size.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saturn May 4

Tonight must be the best of conditions yet since I started taking sky photos.  Transparency was good, seeing was also good.  In fact, there were so many stars out, I had trouble locating Saturn.  I eventually found it, after taking a webcam picture of the area around Gamma Virgo.  It captured gamma Virgo and 2 other dim stars, which are unidentified at present.

Here is the image of gamma Virgo:

Next are the 2 Saturn images.  These all were taken with the 127mm refractor using wxAstroCapture.

When I stacked these images, I had a strange blur, almost a double image just above the image.  I'm still not sure what was causing it, it is possible that the optics arent aligned perfectly.  I first thought that perhaps it was chromatic aberration, but all of the colors appeared, not just the blue, which is normal for that type of distortion.  It was not motion blur, as the first image was with the clock drive turned off, and let the planet drift across the field.  The blur appeared exactly the same as in the second image, with the clock drive turned on.

The first image is a stack of about 150 frames, the 2nd was a stack of about 350 frames.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rain, Rain, Cloudy, Rain

For 2 weeks almost now it has been cloudy and raining here in Northeast Ohio.  I have a newtonian that I wish to collimate, and still wish to do some photography with it as well as with the 127mm.  Last month, we got over 6 inches of rain, when we average about 3 1/2 inches for April.

I have also been thinking about building a larger mount.  Being the 127mm is homebuilt, I thought it fitting to build the mount as well.  If I can figure one out, using wood and common steel without the need for a metal turning lathe, I may go ahead with a longer focus refractor.  The reason I went with the short focus refractor is because I didnt think that my current mount would hold a larger scope.  The 114mm Newtonian is almost too big for the mount I currently have. Therefore, if I can build a mount that the 114mm fits comfortably, perhaps I'll build a 127mm X 1200mm focal length scope.  I figure a scope of that size would provide good planetary views.

There are some good wood based equatorial mounts online.  I would probably base what I would build around one of them, but with some modification.  One thing I would like to do is use some ball bearings in the mount to allow it to operate smoothly.  The hardest part however would be rigging up a clock drive to whatever I decide to build.

Perhaps I'd be better off buying a CG5 class of mount.