A Glowing Heart

The sky has been mostly clear the last couple of nights, but with the Moon nearly full it’s not possible to shoot anything in “normal” RGB, and no reason to go out to a darker location, since the Moon is producing far more light pollution than anything around here.  So I set up to do narrowband imaging from the patio behind our apartment.  The Heart Nebula is a great target, and fits beautifully in the field of view of the WO Star71 telescope and ASI1600 camera.  The above image is just the Hydrogen-alpha (H-a) band, as I haven’t yet captured […]

Not from Around Here, Are You?

The weather has been bad in Australia lately, so image data collection has slowed to a trickle.  But that is only part of the reason I haven’t posted any images from Australia lately.  The main reason is that I’ve just been too busy to process the images that were captured many weeks ago.  Another reason is that I’m moving to a different application for the the front end processing.  I have been using MaxIm DL for many years (for both capture and front-end processing), and am now moving to CCDStack.  I like the simplicity of MaxIm DL, but it wasn’t […]

Where’s My Lunar Eclipse?

  There will be a Total Lunar Eclipse this coming Sunday night, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate and give us a good view of the dark, red Moon.  For people in the Portland, OR area there is probably not much hope, as the forecast (unsurprisingly) calls for heavy cloud cover all week.  That’s why we’re down here in southern California!  The forecast here, however, is quite annoying, calling for fairly clear skies for at least 2 days either side of it, but not so good at the actual time of the eclipse! On the […]

First Light in the Desert

We had a beautiful day yesterday, with no clouds, and temperatures approaching 80 degrees.  The night before was also very good, and was my first real opportunity here to do some serious imaging.  So it was “first light” for desert imaging, but also for the new ASI1600 camera. Although I had some issues with both the camera and the mount (a Celestron AVX, which I rarely use, but was small enough to bring on this trip), the results were quite satisfying.  This is the Rosette Nebula, captured with narrowband filters H-a, O-III, and S-II.  This is a large target, so […]

Desert Play

Greetings from sunny southern California!  It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here 6 days already.  They have been busy days, but mostly not involving astronomy.  Above is the beginning of a portrait of 2 dinosaurs playing in the desert near where we’re staying.  They are actually metal sculptures, of course, but supposedly life-size.  The images are inverted in a crystal ball that my wife gave me for this purpose.  I also captured the scene with focus on the statues and the background.  When they are suitably combined everything will be in sharp focus. Slightly more astronomy related is this […]

On Vacation

The business side of Wa-chur-ed Observatory will be closed until sometime in late February, as I am taking an extended vacation and traveling away from home and office.  I will be doing some astrophotography, of course, and can provide support for existing customers, but am not able to take orders for new products.  If you are interested in placing an order, feel free to contact me to discuss the details.  I will do everything I can to complete your order as quickly as possible when I re-open.  Your patience is greatly appreciated! I intend to continue blogging here, but am […]

The Constancy of Change

Life changed for many of us a little over 50 years ago, when the crew of the Apollo 8 mission captured images of Earth rising over the Moon’s horizon.  It was not the first time that Earth had been photographed from far away, but it was the first time it was photographed from a “place” far away – something that gave it context.  Perhaps it was the contrast of Earth’s color and dynamic weather against the Moon’s barren gray surface, but whatever it was, it changed us.  We could recognize Earth as our home, and see that it was beautiful […]

The Longest Night of the Year

Today is the Winter Solstice, commonly referred to as the shortest day of the year, although astronomers are more inclined to think of it as the longest night of the year, the time that (in theory) we get to spend the most time enjoying the night sky.  In practice, this is rarely the case because of weather.  Pretty much by definition, when the day is short and the night long it’s cold outside.  And here in the Pacific Northwest there’s a very good chance that it’s also cloudy and/or wet. But what is the solstice, and why does it happen?  […]

Bits of the Magellanic Clouds

This is NGC1763, an emission nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and constellation Dorado.  I’ve been pondering why it might be that many areas of the LMC and SMC look like paint daubs – an appearance that is not common in other nebulae I have photographed.  Part of the reason might be the size and distance of the objects.  Other than these targets in LMC and SMC, almost every nebula I have photographed is between 1,000 and 10,000 light-years from Earth.  The Magellanic Clouds are more like 150,000 light-years away, but I’m using the same magnification (angular image size), […]

The Last Chance Bazaar

Last Saturday’s Holiday Bazaar at our local high school (in La Center, WA) was a great success.  I had never done this bazaar before, and was surprised at how good it was.  I’m guessing there were about 75 vendors, so not a huge event, but the place was busy all day, and performances by the school’s choir and bands kept everybody in good spirits. Which brings us to the last holiday bazaar of the season, Hockinson High School (16819 NE 159th, Brush Prairie, WA) this coming Saturday, Dec. 8th) from 9 to 4.  I still have copies of the 2019 […]