Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Working out the kinks

I woke up the other night before twilight and captured another, much better, version of the Orion Nebula. I've finally worked out a way to get some medium zoom on the camera with eyepiece projection. In this method I actually bury the eyepiece inside of the optical setup and the sensor catches light passing through the eyepiece as your eye would. My main problem had been that the focal plane was extremely curved. That is somewhat okay for an eyeball, but makes a camera sensor think it's getting ready to go to warp 9 on the Enterprise. Needless to say I finally found a way to somewhat correct that problem. Now I just need to keep working at getting the mount aligned properly so that I can increase the shutter beyond about 30 seconds.
The Orion Nebula

This nebula, found halfway down the "sword of Orion," is made up of dust and baby stars just coming to life. The dust billows and glows in extraordinary colors as it gets blasted away from the newborn stars.

Andromeda Galaxy 2.0

I finally tried editing a few versions of the Andromeda Galaxy and came up with this.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The New Tripod

I finally got my equatorial mount and am dipping my toes in to the possibilities it presents. Even though I can't align with Polaris from the back yard, there was a nearly full moon and I'm only using a 3" telescope, I was extremely happy with what I was able to capture.

The Andromeda Galaxy - M31, plus M32 and M110
Updated photo to a visual sky orientation from an earlier version:

I was finally able to get this shot late at night after Cassiopeia and Andromeda made their way clear from my rooftop. There was some serious haze from the moon washing out this shot. I can't wait for a clear night in a week or two when the moon is down and I should be able to get a much better exposure. The smaller galaxies M32 and M110, which actually orbit the larger galaxy, can be seen as well. M32 is up and to the left of Andromeda and looks like a large hazy star, while M110 is down and to the right and looks like a small, faint version of Andromeda.

The tripod doesn't directly help me get a better looking picture of Jupiter, but it does make it a whole lot easier that I no longer have to manually chase the big guy as he zooms across the eyepiece.

Check out how Jupiter looks through the viewfinder as I'm waiting for the ripples in the atmosphere to smooth out and give me a crisp, defined shot.

And then I also got a chance to check back in on Comet Garradd, who looks a whole lot more like a comet now that I can filter out some of the camera noise.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The moon snuck in to a small clearing of clouds last night and I finally got my first zoomed picture of the cratered surface. During my winter at the South Pole, I took hundreds of pictures of the moon while passing the time until the next aurora display. I've been waiting a long time to see detail like this on the back of my camera. There was still a thin veil of clouds moving across the disk, and it was quite amazing to see the surface literally "boil" as our atmosphere flowed above me. I had to take a dozen pictures until I got a lucky clear spot in both the clouds and the turbulence.