Daily Archives: October 24, 2015


End of Another Season

The End of the Season (sigh) I haven’t given up on the possibility of a dark site star party in November, or even December. But the chances are it will be cloudy when the New Moon comes, and it will definitely be raining more as the season changes, so Starship Gamma Pictoris (my star party home-away-from-home and mobile gallery) has been covered up and prepared for cold weather. It’s always a little sad to see the end of the astronomy season, but the truth is that I usually get as many images from my home observatory during the winter as […]


Aliens in Space!

Did you hear the one about NASA finding evidence of aliens? OK, it’s not a joke, but it’s also extremely unlikely to be what the stories in various media have been suggesting. Essentially, the Kepler Space Telescope is looking for planets around distant stars by measuring very small changes in the star’s brightness. If the change follows certain patterns, including repeating regularly, there’s a good chance that it’s because a planet orbiting that star blocks a bit of the light as it passes between the star and us. In this case the pattern is not regular, so it’s not a […]


Perseus Wide Field

Buy a Print The large and bright objects (Pleiades, California Nebula, and several star clusters) and lower star density make this wide-field image work fairly well. Compare it with the Cygnus Wide image. If you can make out the brighter stars the whole constellation of Perseus is shown here. M45 (the Pleiades) is in the upper right corner and the red swath near the center is the California Nebula. The image was captured at the 2011 Oregon Star Party as a test of the Nikkor lens for astro photography (along with the Cygnus Wide image). Although it’s a pretty good […]


Cygnus Wide Field

Buy a Print While shooting “deep sky” objects with the telescope at the 2011 Oregon Star Party, I had a second rig set up to shoot wide areas of the sky with a 35mm lens on a DSLR camera. It didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped. I think the main problem is that with such a dense field of stars you need higher resolution to avoid becoming just a gray area. I did several such shots and this is probably the best one because it includes a lot of hydrogen nebulous regions (the red). If you know […]


Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1)

Buy a Print On the last night of the 2011 Oregon Star Party this recent comet seemed to be the thing to shoot. The QSI camera is monochrome with a color filter wheel and since the comet is moving it’s not really possible to do sequential color. So this is really a monochrome image that I hand colored to show what the comet actually looks like. Of course, there is also special processing to make the comet appear stationary: The sub-exposures were stacked twice; once for the comet and again for stars. The comet was then “clipped” from its frame, […]


Lunar Eclipse

Buy a Print On December 10, 2011 we had a total Lunar eclipse starting at about 4AM. A lunar eclipse is when Earth comes directly between the Sun and the Moon, so the Moon is in our shadow. Although it is much dimmer than the Moon is normally, it is still easily visible, being illuminated by light coming around Earth. The orange color is due to the refraction of light through Earth’s atmosphere. This is the same effect that makes the sky appear blue to us here on Earth.  Scope: AT111EDT at f/5.6 Mount: AP Mach1GTO Camera: QSI 583 Exposure: […]


Transit of Venus

Buy a Print On June 5th, 2012 Venus crossed between Earth and the Sun. This will not happen again until 2117, so while it is not the most exciting astronomical event, it is quite rare.  This shot was taken through a “solar filter” that greatly reduces the brightness of the Sun, making it possible to see not only the silhouette of Venus, but also several sunspots. The trees, however, are somewhat fake. It is not possible for us to see anything so dark as these trees at the same time as these details on the surface of the Sun, although […]


Pinwheel Galaxy (M101)

Buy a Print Also known as M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy is in Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and about 21 million light years from Earth. It is a spiral galaxy, like the Milky Way, but is unusually asymmetric. Scope: Starfire 142 at f/7.5 Mount: AP Mach1GTO Camera: QSI 583 at –15C


Markarian’s Chain

Buy a Print Located in the constellation Virgo and part of the Virgo Cluster, Markarian’s chain is a grouping of galaxies that appear (from Earth) to form a curved line. In reality, many of the galaxies are gravitationally related, but others simply appear to be related to the others from our perspective. This image includes M84, M86, and many other identified galaxies. Captured in April of 2011 at Wa-chur-ed Observatory as part of the initial testing of the AT111EDT telescope. The Televue reducer/flattener was not a good match to this scope, so the corner stars are somewhat distorted. Scope: AT111EDT […]


M106 and Neighbors

Buy a Print This image contains numerous galaxies, with M106 just being the largest one visible.  Several others are clearly visible in this small version of the image, and when you look at the original (full size) image many more galaxies, some just a few pixels in size, appear.  M106 is in the constellation Canes Venatici and is about 24 million light-years away. Captured in June of 2013 at Wa-chur-ed Observatory, this is one of the few LRGB images done from my home observatory.  Generally speaking, galaxies are too dim to be photographed in such light-polluted skies and this probably […]