Thursday, August 27, 2015

No luck Wednesday night!

Wednesday night I took my 102mm ES refractor out to get some lunar CCD shots.... but my mount would have none of that!
For some reason it slewed nowhere near the moon, so I tried a couple more times from  the Home Position. Finally I did a factory reset and tried one more time. I wasn't close and now it started slewing a little while after it stops . It started slewing on it's own a couple times then I shut it down. 
About then two kids riding their bikes home stopped to see what was going on so I brought my 10" Dob out to show them the moon and Mizar before some clouds covered most of the sky.
At least they seemed to have fun and one kid even saw a "shooting star".
So the night ended up a bust for me but some kids had a nice time at least... it's not all bad.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Moon at 53% with nice terminator features

Tonight I took the Orion 10" f4.7 Dob out to get a quick look at the half-moon.
The terminator held it's usual secrets in high relief making the lava plains look rippled and bumpy.
I labeled a few Apollo landing sites below:

I found an Apollo 12 hand-held photo of the Sinus Aestuum lava features so I added it to a closer image of the terminator crossing the Sinus Aestuum:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Perseid Meteor Shoots Past Andromeda & M32

Tim Benko took this awesome picture on Thursday night into Friday morning (August 13-14) 2015... the day after the peak. He 
captured this very nice Persied Meteor with the tell tale “Trail” of material behind it.
This material trail is technically known as a “Train”.  In this image you can see it as the green and the bottom of the meteor which seems to wrap around and follow it. Adjacent to the meteor are M31 & M32.  
The image was captured with a Canon T2i using a 50mm prime lens at F1.4.
Five exposures were stacked. Each exposure was 13 seconds at ISO 1600.
Special thanks to Jim Roselli for help with the processing.
[Keith - According to my American Meteor Society inquiry, the green glow is caused by Nickel, while the yellow is Sodium]

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Barnard's Star ~ Images over three year period shows proper motion

This image was taken by NJAA member, Perry Arts:

Attached is a stacked image of Barnard's Star, taken over 3 years. It shows the star's proper motion, 10.4" per year.
The images were taken on:
                  July 4, 2013
                  June 30, 2014
                  Jul 8, 2015
Camera: Celestron Nightscape 8300 OSC
Exposure: 20 seconds, binned 2x2

Thank you Perry... 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Some more shots come in from the NJAA Perseid Meteor Shower Public Night

These images are from Jim Roselli ~ Nice shots, using a deep red filter over his flash then converting the images to b&w.  Taken of the lawn behind the observatory

The Perseid Meteor Shower at the observatory

This is a small addition to Jim's previous post... 
I took this green night-vision goggle view of some of the public attending Wednesday, again using my Galaxy5 camera. 
I though it was an interesting perspective and it also gave me an opportunity to chase off four rascally raccoons wandering around the perimeter. They were obviously looking for bits of food amongst the packed people sitting and laying on blankets oblivious to the  scoundrels nearby. 
I'm sure some of them thought I was probably a little wacky as I ran around hissing and barking at the animals as they casually wandered back into the trees.


My Stay at the Summer Star Party...2015

my apologies for being about a week late with this post... for some unknown reason I lost access to the blog... But now I'm back!
It took about 4.5 hours to get to the star party campsite and I immediately began setting up my gear.
I got a lot of visitors from astronomy clubs all over the northeast and gave out membership 
applications to a few people interested in our big observatory (with darker skies than they were used to from their New York City metropolitan area).
I had only two small scopes with me due to space constraints with my truck. The scope on the left is a 102mm Explore Scientific APO refractor on a CG5 mount that was tracking perfectly throughout my stay. I saw over 25 deep sky objects as well as Saturn and Neptune. I didn't do any imaging though.... I think I was too into the social aspect of the star party to bunker down with a laptop and camera glaring in my face.
The little scope in the center is an Orion 4.5" StarBlast which I use mostly for spotting the brighter objects quickly as well as solar observing with the Seymour Solar Filter on the front.
It's a great scope for star parties as parent's like it's low price, ease of mobility and good optics as a started scope for the kids! 

The days were perfect as the mountain air was fairly dry during the day so the clouds would open enough at night for decent observing. Although I highly recommend purchasing a dew heater... I didn't have one and the first night it hindered my viewing especially in the eyepieces.
People with dew heaters didn't appear to have any probems and as you can see, everyone had covers. 

My views of the sun were the talk of everyone that looked through my ES with the new "LUNT White Light Solar Wedge". Word passed quickly of the contrast quality and high resolution it provided compared to a filter at the front of a scope!
Below is an image I took using my Galaxy5 ... not too bad for a phone-camera but visually and through a CCD camera the wedge is spectacular. I bought the 1.25" wedge but if I were to buy now I would get the 2" version.

Perseid Meteor Shower From NJAA, Nikon D810a First Light

With Wednesday's forecast of clear skies for the Perseid's,  everyone was excited to be at the observatory for the event.  We hosted over 300 visitors that evening and everyone had a great time.  Clouds were mixed all evening until about 1:00AM with a 90 minute break.  I was testing the Nikon D810a AstroPhotography camera for the first time using a CamRanger for control with my iPhone (great combination).  All images were shot using ISO 6400, 15sec exposures and a Nikon 14-24mm at 14mm / F4.0.  The CamRanger is a hotspot that connects to your camera with a USB cable and wifi to your idevice.  The 810a is a 36Mpix image so each raw file is 49MB in size.  This takes about 20 seconds to download to the device when viewing the image with CamRanger.  So I set the image quality to small jpeg for focusing and downing in 2 secs.  Wouldn't you know that just as I focused the camera and took the final small jpeg,  I captured this.  So I didn't have a big raw file to to process.  Well at least I captured one.  Once my focus was set, I changed the image quality to RAW and went on with shooting my sequences.

So this is titled "Milkyway above, Perseid in the middle and light pollution below"...

Since I was taking series of images, I stacked this next image using StarStacker.  I used the Comet Tail feature of the software to make the leading edge of the star look like a Comet.  You can adjust the comet tail length as you wish.  This was a stack of 50 images (50x15sec) giving a 12.5 min in total.  StarStacker lets you if you like, output an individual frame to an external file for each image it stacks.  You can then take those images, import into a video editor, time each frame and make time-lapse of the star trail.  This is how I did the star trail videos on the NJAA's YouTube Channel.

And finally, the same scene with 200 images stacked (43x15sec) 43min.  No comet trail option.  Man , thats lots of stars!  Note in the center bottom just above the trees, there seems to be a meteor.  Its not.  Its a slow moving tumbling booster or other space item, that spanned a number of frames.

As NJAA is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, when shooting I often think about the nigh sky view that the founders witnessed in 1965.  Although our Dark Sky meter was showing a NELM (Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude) of 5.9 that evening, the dome of light pollution is evident in all but the shortest of exposures.  So please use "Dark Sky Friendly" exterior lighting when building or renovating.
Clear Skies to all,
Jim Roselli