Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon

We had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend... nice in the sense that we got to relax, spend time with family, etc, but not great since it was cloudy every night so I couldn't get shots of Venus approaching Jupiter. And yesterday started out just as bad... completely clouded over in the morning, looked like it might clear up as I was heading to work, then totally overcast when we went to lunch. At that point, I had given up so I hadn't bothered to really head out of the office at sunset to check... Well, about 5 minutes before I had to head off to teach class at the Observatory, I started getting phone calls about what the bright “stars” are beside the Moon (I run the campus observatory)… After dutifully answering that the “stars” were actually the planets Venus and Jupiter, I hopped up and ran to the car to get my tripod and set the camera up and took a couple of shots. Headed off to class and took some more with the students in the foreground. Will get the pics downloaded and posted this morning…

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Recent activity...

Last Sunday (31 Aug) was another one of those awesome observing nights... and since there was no work the next day... and Jerry was out of town... and it was new moon... Well, I concentrated on taking some flats and then lots of short exposures of M57... but I haven't gotten around to processing them... I'll try to do that this week along with posting some pics from a hike a few weeks ago. And I still need to process a bunch of pics that I took while visiting MAC friends down in SC...
And my 20yr high school reunion is coming up...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cabin Trip - Clarification

Okay, before anyone misunderstands, we did hire a contractor to do all of the hardstuff, but Pam and I did help! I carried out trash from tearing out the kitchen floor and downstairs bath, picked up tile from Colorado Springs, washed the cabinet doors and hardware, swept and vacuumed some really gross stuff (you REALLY do not want to know!!)... She and I also painted the downstairs bath (I'm trying to keep that secret from Jerry so that it will be a surprise when he goes out in late August)...

Cabin Trip

Well, we had our vacation scheduled. Then Jerry bailed because of work. Then friends Hayden and Pam were going to join us, but Hayden bailed... so it was just us gals! Meanwhile Jerry had tasked me with doing some cabin repairs which Pam and I ended up doing. The kitchen floor got tiled. The two bathrooms, well, the downstairs was gutted when we left and supposedly the upstairs is also now gutted... hopefully, the floor and shower tiling will get done this week. Also, the roofing. And I made a list for next year... Anyone want to come visit and help??

But while we were out there, Pam and I did manage to get a little hiking done... I came home with 600 pictures (okay, they are not all great... alot of quasi-duplicate ones from taking sunrise pics and fireworks....). But here's a nice one...

I've posted some other wildflower pics on my Facebook page...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh, well

Well, last night was not as clear as the previous nights. The moon was easy enough, and we did get to see Mercury through one of the telescopes before sunset (so it was still relatively high in the sky), but the haze and clouds moved in and you couldn't see it. You can see how the moon's light is diffused through the haze... See also how much the moon moves from one night to the next? Compare to Tues night.

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, f/5.6, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/7/2008 8:40:01 PM
Exposure: 0.6sec
Lens: 17.0 - 85.0mm at 35.0mm

But since we were out there, I did get some pics of the moon through my telescope ... The horizon is not great, so I couldn't get Mercury in mine. Besides which, it would still have only shown up as a dot in a photo through that scope. So here's the moon...

Why is the sky so dark considering the time I took it? Well, I applied auto-color in PS7...

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/7/2008 8:18:51 PM
Exposure: 1/60sec
Lens: Astro-Physics Starfire 152mm (6") f/9 refractor

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Moon and Mercury

Monday night was also clear, but we had open house. Last night (tue), I had a student intern working his last night. Although it was clear, we were both working on computers inside analyzing images (me, the asteroid pics I took Sun night). About 8:50, I remembered something, jumped up, and headed outside. Had to run up the hill of our parking lot and over some to get the right angle. You can see the nice little crescent moon. Look at the larger version and you'll see Mercury as the little "star" down and left of the moon. Once I saw that I could see the Moon and Mercury, I hollered to my intern so he could take a look. Then I went about rushing to get my camera setup because of course it was all setting very quickly and as you can see, I don't have a good horizon in that direction!

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, f/5.6, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/6/2008 8:58:00 PM
Exposure: 2.5sec
Lens: 17.0 - 85.0mm at 72.0mm

I also wanted to get some zoomed in shots, so I connected the camera to my Orion Shorttube 80. By this time, they had disappeared behind the tree line so I had to go over into the landfill which has higher ground... just enough to get a few more shots...

Tonight (wed), the moon will be above Mercury and getting closer to Mars...

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, f/5, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/6/2008 9:10:02 PM
Exposure: 1.6sec
Lens: 400.0mm

Up already, why not?

So, since I got home pretty late Sunday night (more like early Monday morning), I took a short 30 minute nap, then went to the roof to take a pic of this -7 IR Flare. Remember, this is from Alexandria... inside the Beltway... lots of light pollution... and processed in PS7, hence the metallic look. Jupiter is the bright object off to the right, the flare is what looks like a shooting star. From my perspective, this was a very slow moving flare, so the exposure ended up a bit longer and the stars had time to trail.

Here's an 'unprocessed' version to be fair...

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, f/5.6, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/5/2008 3:29:47 AM
Exposure: 37sec
Lens: 17.0 - 85.0mm at 26.0mm

Rare Night, pt 2

Well, Saturn is also visible. It's over by Regulus in Leo. Okay, the pics don't look great when they're small like this... It's a short exposure and there's light pollution. Click on it to get a bigger version.

Saturn is farther away than Mars, so it's motion against the background sky is not as noticeable. But if you pay close attention you'll see Saturn starting to drift away from Regulus.

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, f/5.6, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/4/2008 9:37:33 PM
Exposure: 8sec
Lens: 17.0 - 85.0mm at 35.0mm

Rare night

Sunday night was a rare one... clear, dark... couldn't pass it up so I went out to the observatory to image some asteroids (no luck on those). While there I also took some sky shots.

This shows Gemini with Mars just to the left of Castor and Pollux. They look like they're in a straight line almost (Mars -- Pollux -- Castor). Well Mars is moving and the alignment will change over the coming weeks. In the full size image, you can also see M44, the Beehive Cluster, in the upper left.

Fri (9 May) evening, the crescent moon will be below Mars. For some parts of the world, the moon will occult (eclipse) Mars during the night (but it won't be visible from east coast USA). Saturday evening, the waxing crescent moon will be above Mars and just below the cluster (use binoculars).

Although the sky is slowly setting, Mars is drifting east. On May 19, Mars will be at the corner of Cancer. And over the next several nights, it will drift through the small constellation and through the Beehive Cluster. That will be a nice photo op!

Image details...
Camera: Canon 20Da, f/5.6, ISO 800
Date/Time: 5/4/2008 9:34:48 PM
Exposure: 10sec
Lens: 17.0 - 85.0mm at 38.0mm

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Computers

Well, my Dad got Mom a new laptop for Christmas. While not entirely enthused about it, she is learning. It helps that the first thing we are teaching her is chatting online. Well, not sure if it helps or hurts yet, but she is able to chat with my brother in Iraq, her nephews in Hungary and me... So while we would talk maybe once a week on the phone, we now chat for a few minutes every couple of days. And in order to chat with her, I had to get an MSN account as well. But I've also been able to chat with my cousins... pretty much for the first time in years... so even though we are scattered, maybe we will get closer now. We'll see.