Portland PhotoFair

One more post before I leave for the Oregon Star Party:  On Saturday, August 13, the first ever Portland PhotoFair will be held, and I will be a guest speaker (see https://4photofair.wordpress.com/special-guests-and-dealers/).  PhotoFair began in California’s Bay Area in 1975 and continues to do annual shows there, as well as satellite shows in other cities. My presentation is titled “Astro-Photography for the Terrestrial Photographer” and is an introduction to AP aimed specifically at experienced photographers.  It will have a brief introduction covering astronomy equipment and concepts, then jump into specific techniques for photographing several types of night sky images. I […]

Night Visions

The 2016 Oregon Star Party

I haven’t posted anything for quite a while here – and it may be another while before the next post – because I’ve been consumed with preparations for the Oregon Star Party (OSP), which will run from Aug. 2nd to the 7th (see http://oregonstarparty.org/ for details).  This year I will have more images, and more prints of all kinds, than I have ever had before.  In fact, I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to display everything in my “mobile gallery”/motorhome, Gamma Pictoris. First among all the things taking up my time is the new 2017 Calendar: This calendar […]


Saturn Visits the Edge of the Milky Way

Another photo from last weekend’s star party: You might recognize the area in the lower right corner from earlier photos I’ve posted.  The large yellow/red blob is the star Antares (bloated by its extreme brightness), to its right is the globular cluster M4, and above that, surrounded by blue dust, is the Rho Ophiuchi complex.  But this very wide field image (more than 25 degrees across) shows how this area resides at the edge of the Milky Way.  The dense stars and dust of the Milky Way appear as glowing red and black on the left edge, gradually fading to […]


Lagoon, Trifid, and Cat’s Paw

Last weekend’s star party was relatively relaxing, largely because the target I was after could be photographed for only a few hours each night, so I got to bed by 2 or 2:30 each night.  The target was 3 nebulae in the constellation Sagittarius, the Lagoon (M8), Trifid (M20), and Cat’s Paw (NGC6334).  All of these are primarily emission nebulae, but are often photographed in broadband color (RGB) to include some reflection components, especially the blue region on the north side of M20.  North is down in this photo, and this blue region shows only very faintly as a light […]


Night Hike

For several years now I have been wanting to take a “night sky” photo from my favorite local hike, Silver Star Mountain.  I recently got the chance, and got a few interesting photos, although the main lesson from this experience is that you really have to make your plans around light pollution: This is more or less the image I had planned.  It would have been a bit better if I had waited a couple of hours so that the Milky Way came up to the right of the peak, but it was probably going to get cloudy by then.  […]


A Swan of a Different Color

Here are a couple of new images from the constellation Cygnus, the swan.  Both are fairly wide views (done with the WO Star71 telescope) and both are narrowband images with somewhat unusual color rendering.  First is the North America Nebula, NGC7000: I have to explain that you may be seeing something like the shape of the United States here, with the dark “hole” being the Great Lakes region, rather than the shape of North America.  But if you turn it clockwise 90 degrees the hole becomes the Gulf of Mexico and the entire continent is included. NGC7000 is one of […]


Sunset at Wa-chur-ed Observatory

Clouds are the natural enemy of astronomers, and I like clear skies as much as the next astro-guy, but sometimes you just have to appreciate the beauty of clouds, such as in this recent sunset in the field behind Wa-chur-ed Observatory.  Many astronomers are also amateur meteorologists and could tell you all about these clouds.  I just think they’re wonderful! With the Oregon Star Party just 5 weeks away, this is a very busy time for me.  In addition to all the astro-photo prints and other stuff that needs to be prepared, I can’t afford to miss any opportunities to […]


Summer Sun

Now that Summer is upon us, I’ve been using a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope to take pictures of our Sun: Taking pictures of the Sun is quite different from the “deep space” photography that I normally do.  It actually felt weird to be taking pictures in the observatory during the day.  And the exposures are so short!  With deep space images you need to capture multiple long exposures and “stack” (combine) them to reveal the dim details.  You can’t do very much stacking with solar images because the details actually change pretty quickly, so they would become blurred in a combined […]


Price Updates

For the first time since… well, pretty much ever, I am updating the prices on Wa-chur-ed Observatory products.  In most cases the change is an increase and the reason is increased labor costs.  I see that as a good thing, since it means that people all along the supply chain are being paid more for their work – including me.  Over the years the component and material costs have increased only a little and I have been able to offset those costs with increased efficiency in my manufacturing processes (such as moving to CNC routing of some components), but it […]


News From LIGO

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has announced a second gravitational wave detection.  The first detection happened on Sept. 14, 2015 and was announced in February, 2016, and the second was detected on December 29th, 2016 and announced just today.  The reason for the long delay is that the data has to be very carefully processed and analyzed to extract the precise meaning and ensure that it is a real gravitational wave event. Like the first, this event is thought to be the merger of 2 black holes, although this pair is significantly smaller than the first.  It was detected […]