Astronomy Season has (Finally) Arrived

Over the past week we’ve had some really great weather here in the Pacific Northwest, and I took advantage of the clear skies to start the astronomy season – with astro-photography, of course.  There are some dark-sky star parties going on as a write this, and I didn’t go because there is too much work to do at home, but that didn’t keep me from opening up the observatory and starting some semi-automated captures. The target this time was NGC6888, the Crescent Nebula.  This is a popular target in the Cygnus constellation, and is often photographed, both in natural color […]


You Don’t Always Get What You Want

We had some clear skies here for a few days, and although I’ve been too busy to stay up all night for deep-space object (DSO) photography, I had been waiting for the opportunity to try planetary imaging with the ASI174 camera I got a few months ago, and there was a transit of Io across Jupiter happening that night.  I didn’t get it. Here’s what happened:  The picture above was taken well before the transit started (I think the dim spot just to the left of Jupiter is Io) with the camera attached directly to my 8″ EdgeHD telescope.  This […]


PerfectStar Goes Bipolar

In this case “bipolar” does not refer to a disorder, but to a type of motor.  The current version of PerfectStar, like most focus controllers, uses “unipolar” stepper motors.  The indirect reason for this is that I (and probably most of my competitors) designed the controller to be compatible with existing motors (and for the motor to be compatible with other controllers) despite some significant advantages of bipolar motors over unipolar.  I’ll provide more details on that later, but first, I want to point out some other changes. In the above photo we see the “front” end of the controller. […]


NEAF was NEAT!

My first time at NEAF (North East Astronomy Forum) was great fun – like a kid in a candy store!  The above picture was taken just after the Saturday morning opening, so the place was not very crowded yet.  I heard people say that the attendance was down a little this year.  The presumed reason was that people are saving their travel budget to view the eclipse later this year.  It’s probably also true that there were fewer visitors from outside the U.S. because they are concerned about how they would be treated at the border. NEAF is run by […]


Going to NEAF

The Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) is one of biggest astronomy events on planet Earth and I’ve never been to it – until now!  This years forum is next weekend, April 8&9 (see http://www.rocklandastronomy.com/neaf.html for details). NEAF should be a great experience for anyone interested in astronomy and/or space travel, but I’m particularly excited because I’ll finally get to meet a bunch of people I’ve known only online or by phone for many years.  This includes vendors from whom I have made purchases, customers who have bought my products, and fellow astro-photographers (with some overlap between all these categories).  There will be more […]


Can we get some sunshine here?

The solar telescope I ordered months ago just arrived, which likely means the Sun will not show itself any time soon.  This is a Lunt LS60THa with pressure tuner and straight-through 12mm blocking filter.  Except for the “straight through” part (as opposed to the diagonal that is normally used for visual observing) this is a pretty common solar telescope, allowing you to safely view the Sun and see details of regions in the hydrogen-alpha band.  This is the same spectral line that I often use in photographing nebulae, but for the Sun a much narrower filter is required.  I use […]


Exploring the Intersection of Art & Science

As noted in a previous post, next Wednesday (Feb. 22) evening Dr. Katherine Kornei and I will be speaking at the 510 Museum in Lake Oswego, OR (http://artscouncillo.org/events/).  I will show some of my astro-photos and talk about how I capture and process them, while Dr. Kornei will talk about science behind some of the objects in my photos.  We gave a similar presentation last year at a private club meeting, but this is the first time it will be available publicly.  One addition to the presentation is that Dr. Kornei will talk about some prominent women in astronomy, in […]


Book Review: Earth in Human Hands by David Grinspoon

Dr. David Grinspoon was the speaker at the January meeting of the Rose City Astronomers and I’ve just finished reading his new book, “Earth in Human Hands” and want to tell you about it. The obvious central theme of the book is that we humans need to solve the problem of climate change, but it explores this and many related topics in great depth and from many perspectives.  Since I am not nearly as skillful a writer as Dr. Grinspoon, I will not attempt to thoroughly cover these ideas, but I do want to give you my take on the book […]


Exhibit Opening

The opening reception for the exhibit of Astro-Photography was well attended, especially considering the predictions of icy road conditions.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures while people were there, but did get a few shots later.  The first, above, is from the entrance and shows most of the photos.  Mine are along the wall on the right, plus the backlit prints in the rear left corner (where it is darkest). The front part of the left wall is a collection of 11 prints from Tracy Brown: Tracy has been a successful photographer for some 50 years and started doing astro-photography with the […]


Astro-Photography Exhibit

This is what an exhibit of astro-photos looks like before it is hung: The Arts Council of Lake Oswego (Oregon) asked me to put together a collection of photos in connection with the library’s “Lake Oswego Reads” program, which is featuring the novel “Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars” by Nathalia Holt.  The arts council has a very nice, large gallery, the 510 Museum and ARTspace.  In fact, it’s a little too large for my collection, so I asked a few other local astro-photographers to participate in the show […]