Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Venus-Jupiter conjunction 6.30.15 plus Moons!

I had to work to get these pix!  My neighborhood is heavily wooded, so I had to move out of my driveway to the front of the house. I quickly took a couple of pix with my phone as cloud was rolling in. I set up the scope (first light for the ST-80) and Iopteron Smart EQPro mount. I slewed to and centered Venus, which promptly disappeared behind a cloud and a tree!

I moved the scope and recentered Venus. I managed quite a few pix before the trees finally swallowed the planets.

The first image is overexposed, showing all four Galilean moons of Jupiter. The second is exposed to show the phase of Venus (about half phase, at present). If you click on the images and zoom, you can just see two belts on Jupiter.

Although the planets look very close in the sky (about 1/3 of a degree apart), they are actually about a half billion miles apart!

Monday, June 29, 2015


When the moon moves towards full, the great crater, Tycho, is one of the most easily-seen on the lunar surface. Named after the famous Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, the crater is 86 km in diameter and 4.8 km deep. One of the most prominent features of Tycho is its ray system, that looks like a large splash on the lunar surface. The crater is terraced and has large cracks in the floor, indicating past volcanism, most likely from rocks melted by the impact that created the crater. Some of the smaller craters around Tycho seem to have been formed by ejecta from the formation of Tycho itself.

Tycho is easily seen with binoculars and is very prominent when the moon is full. As the moon is full on July 2, it's a good time to see the crater in all its glory now. Through binoculars, will find if at approximately the 7 o'clock position on the lunar disk if you're in the Northern Hemisphere.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Copernicus 6.27.15

We had a rare clear night with decent seeing tonight. I lugged out the ETX125 OTA and mounted it on the EQPro. The moon is washing out all the DSOs at the moment, so I decided to do some imaging. Here is an image of the crater Copernicus captured without a barlow using the ASI 120MM. This is a superb camera for lunar and planetary work and it excellent at capturing fine detail as the image below shows; notice the terracing on the sides of the crater. If you look closely, you can see three distinct terraces and the rubble from landslides on the inside edge. Copernicus is 93 km in diameter and 3.8 km deep. There are 3 central peaks. Click the image to enlarge.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Venus and Jupiter Conjunction 6.24.15

There was a short break in the clouds last night, so I managed this shot of the conjunction between Venus and Jupiter at around 10:30 pm. There was still a twilight glow in the western sky, but the planets still put on a great show. Clouds and rain moved in shortly after this pic was taken.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Clouds, Clouds, Clouds!

This summer is shaping up to be the same as last summer, unfortunately. We have had many cloudy, rainy, and overcast days. Days that are clear inevitably haze and cloud over before dark. Last year was the cloudiest summer on record for this part of Indiana. It looks as if this year will be a competitor.

Monday, June 1, 2015

UK Trip--Whitby

Situated on the bleak but beautiful North Yorkshire coast, Whitby is a picturesque fishing town. Our first night in town coincided with a full moon, so I could not resist posting a few of pix of the full moon over Whitby in this blog.

UK Trip--Stonehenge!

I am in the UK for a family vacation. The first stop had to be Stonehenge, a sophisticated, prehistoric observatory. The stones are truly awe-inspiring and it was a real privilege to be able to get access to the interior of the circle.

Brooding over Salisbury Plain is one of the world's oldest astronomical observatory
The Heel Stone. The sun rises directly over it on the Summer Solstice
The Heel Stone
The Moon over a standing stone
A general view of the stones