Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Conjunction Between the Moon and Venus on 3-22-2015

Here's a pic I took while stuck in a traffic jam on I 65 south of Lafayette, IN. Not a great pic as I took it through glass with my Samsung Note 4, but the Moon and Venus are clearly visible. It was a beautiful and striking sight. Both were low in the west and I was hoping to get home and take an image before they set. The traffic jam slowed things down, but it was also a fortunate event--2 minutes after taking this pic, the western sky was completely overcast!  It's an ill wind.... :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Sun 03-16-2015

A frequent contributor to the Yahoo PST group not only takes great solar images and time-lapse videos, he also has some great ideas. Today, I tried his technique of removing the barrel from the ASI 120MM imager and placing it directly over the eyepiece barrel of the PST. I tried this technique in a very rapid imaging session over lunchtime. I held the camera in place with a rubber band with the camera body slightly tilted. The results were pretty good for a first attempt, and most importantly, the Newton's Rings that have plagued my images are eliminated!  I plan on experimenting more in the next days and weeks to see if I can get close to matching some of his superb images.

These pix show AR 2297 prominently. It's a region that has been cracking with X-Class flares.

Sun Pillar

I was driving home last night, enjoying a spectacular sunset. As it developed, a sun pillar appeared. The pillar seemed to spread from a bright, compact core (visible in the image; the sun was actually below the horizon). It looked like a faint cross for a while (but very different and much smaller than those associated with Sun Dogs). So here's the pic--a lovely interaction between an astronomical object, our sun, and the ice crystals in our atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Orion Region

Tonight I imaged a larger part of the Orion nebula complex using the Orion 80mm ED apochromat mounted on the 14 inch. The poor quality Meade diagonal I use with the Orion fell apart twice and the camera dropped 5 feet onto solid concrete. It is a testimony to the quality of Mallincam products that the camera was completely unaffected--not even a scratch!

Here are the images. I was hoping to image the Running Man Nebula, but the light scatter caused by a light haze, washed it out completely, even with a Skyglow filter.


Processing Jupiter--When is it enough, and when too much?

I took some images of Jupiter a few days ago and I just got around to processing them. Seeing was below average. Images were captured with a 14 inch ACF and ASI 120MM camera. After stacking, I processed them with the unsharp mask in Photoshop. The unsharp mask really pulls detail out of the image, but there's a fine line between "enough" and "too much," as these examples show. It's an interesting conundrum as the most processed image shows more details, but definitely looks unnatural and overcooked.

The best processed image in my opinion

An overly-processed image--ots of detail is visible, but the image looks "overcooked"

The original stacked image

Sunday, March 8, 2015

M43--De Mairan's Nebula

One the edge of M42, the Great Nebula in Orion, is M43, also known as De Mairan's Nebula. This H II region is separated from M42 by a large lane of dark dust. The image is a single capture with a MCJR Pro and 14 inch ACF. Image was taken on 3-07-2015.

The Sun on 3-6-2015

Finally, after weeks of being below the tree line, and more weeks of temperatures far below freezing, I was able to start imaging the sun again. Although this puzzling SolarMax is coming to an end, H-Alpha imaging can still show an enormous amount of interesting detail on a disk that may look featureless in white light. These images show long, filaments, a glowing active area, and a looping prominence. Even though the sun is heading for a quieter period, there will still be lots to see; a new, flaring, active area is moving onto the disk.

Cracking with M-Class flares, AR2297 is emerging on the Sun's limb

Dark filaments snake across the solar disk
A churning solar disk with filaments
Prominences, one a loop, on the  solar limb