Sunday, October 30, 2005

As Big As The Moon, Part 2

Click here to scientifically prove that Mars was as large as the full moon on October 29, 2005.

Thanks Andy!

Still not convinced? Here's a picture I made from my front porch, looking east just after sunset.

And this is just for fun.

As Big As The Moon

The CSC said we were in for poor seeing, so I almost didn't set up. Glad I did, though.

These have not been resized like all the others--I added my cheap 2x Barlow to the Televue Barlow, giving a nominal focal length of 10,000 mm. That's f/40 in the 10" LX200. I was worried about being able to focus at that much magnification, but I think I did OK. I tried a new trick: I used the Universal Access system preference on the iBook to enlarge the display 2x, and then focused the image on the screen. I think it made it easer to see when I was approaching focus.

These are pretty close to the view I got at 515x through the eyepiece. For allegedly poor seeing, I was impressed.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mo' Mars

Two o'clock Wednesday morning. Seeing could have been better, and the temperature was falling, so I was fighting two problems. It's not a bad shot, but still not as nice as the one I took out at Linda's. Maybe it's shooting surrounded by houses and concrete, instead of miles of pasture. Whatever it is, it's frustrating.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

First Light: Meade Super Wedge

I made a very nice deal with Todd for his modified Meade Super Wedge to use with the LX200. I had read lots of info online about aligning the wedge, and either I'm doing it wrong (possible), or it's just not as difficult as some folks make it out to be.

I found instructions on an iterative method of aligning that were easy to follow. Start level and north and follow the Meade instructions to align on Polaris using the wedge controls, then goto a sync star and align on it with the hand paddle. Meade thinks you're done at that point, but I continued: Goto back to Polaris, which will almost surely not be centered, and take out half of the error using the wedge controls. Goto the alignment star again, which will be off-center since you just moved the wedge, recenter it with the hand paddle and sync again. Repeat the process 4 or 5 times, and you should be accurately aligned. I found that 4 iterations was enough to not show any drift at all at low power, which was all I was after. Took about 15 minutes, maybe less.

The Mars shots I made weren't all that great. It was still too early, as the planet was only 45° up. I wasn't really dressed for the weather, so I packed it in. Tonight's plan is to set up at dusk, and grab a nap until around 2:00 and try again.

We're Number One

Texas #1 in BCS Rankings

Say it with me, it feels good, "The number-one Texas Longhorns ..."

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Dear Brad

I take it back--you're back on the list.

Your Former Pal,

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dear Brad

All is forgiven. Don't do it again.
Now, go get the Sox.
Your Pal,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lynkeos or Keith's Image Stacker?

Lynkeos or Keith's Image Stacker? Flip a coin. KIS is a bear to use well, but sometimes it's worth it. Aristarchus from Friday, 14 October 2005 at the dam.


Keith's Image Stacker:

I wonder if I can realign the stack in Lynkeos and sharpen it up some more.

My Shit List

George Bush
The Republican Congress
Barry Switzer
Osama Bin Laden

Brad Lidge

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Aristarchus and Mars Redux

I drove to Houston yesterday afternoon for David's 40th birthday yesterday, and instead of driving back to Austin, I headed out to Brenham to my sister's place. (These guys really need to update their blogs, don't you think?)

I made the right choice--the weather was pleasant, and both transparency and seeing were above average. I took both of these around 3:00 this morning.

North is right in this image of Aristarchus. Maybe this wasn't the best month to shoot this. The sun was a little low on Friday, and little high on Saturday. I don't know quite how I got the weird colors, but I'm not complaining.

Best Mars yet. This is from a 150 second stream, 2 1/2 minutes. I'm reluctant to go any longer, both because of field rotation and planetary rotation. I'm pleased with the shadow details. This is probably as good as I'm going to get, unless I learn some new processing techniques.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dam Pictures

I didn't stay up late enough Friday night at Mansfield Dam, so my Mars isn't as good as I would have hoped under average-to-worsening seeing.

On the other hand, I'm not too disappointed in this two-image mosaic of Aristarchus and Copernicus. Didn't matter what I tried, but the sunlit side of Aristarchus crater would be overexposed.

Missed most of the regulars at the dam, but met a nice couple who had just purchased a new LX200GPS 10", the new version of my scope. Between JB & myself, we were able to get them up and running. Showed the moon in the big 30mm eyepiece to several visitors while waiting for Mars to get high enough to view.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Copernicus & Plato

Be sure to click on these to view them full size. I think they are my best yet. We had much better seeing tonight, although it was still probably just about average.

A two-image mosaic of Copernicus and Mare Insularum.

Another two-image mosaic, this time of Plato, Mare Frigoris and the lunar north pole.

Both images: LX200 @ f/10, LPI, best 20% of ~360 frames, stacked & darks removed in Lykenos, levels adjusted and sharpened in Photoshop with the FocusMagic plugin.


It was really a waste of time to try to make any pictures last night. Looking at the moon was like looking at the bottom of a swimming pool, so these are all pretty soft and noisy. Still, I figure it's good practice for the future.

Rupes Recta, the Straight Wall.

Southeast Mare Imbrium. That's Archimedes at the top, and Eratosthenes at the lower left.

Compare this view of Theopolis to the same area three days earlier.

Tycho in the upper left, and Clavius in the lower left. The lunar base in 2001: A Space Odyssey was in Clavius, and the monolith was in Tycho—the Tycho Magnetic Anomaly (TMA-1).

One of my favorite sites to observe. Plato and Alpine Valley. No sign of the rille in the bottom of the valley, but no surprise. Maybe a craterlet or two inside Plato?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Animated Mars

1 image every 10 minutes for 80 minutes:

Best single image:

10" LX200 @ f/20, LPI, Best of 360

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Theophilus Again

Not as nice as the fellow in Chile's picture, but not too shabby. That's Theophilus crater in the lower left, and Tranquility Base National Park in the upper center.

10" LX200 @ f/6.3, LPI, best of 360.


It smells like a tack store.

It's kind of neat to get furniture that doesn't come with an allen wrench. Foley's had a sale, and we took advantage of it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

From CNN regarding Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers:

The White House has denied accusations of cronyism and Bush said, "I've known her for more than 10 years.


Now, if he had known her for more than 11 years …

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Second Light

Much better. We had way better transparency and seeing, and I stayed up late enough to let the planet get much higher this time. I also took out the diagonal and shot straight-through, so the scale is slightly different.

I'm not sure what changed, but I kept having all sorts of over-exposure problems. I'd turn the gain way down, but the highlights still had no detail in them. I finally added my ND13 neutral density filter, and it took care of the issue. Time to do more research.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

LPI First Light

I purchased a Meade Lunar-Planetary Imager (LPI) Thursday, and got a chance to try it out last night at the Dam in the LX200. Thank you Richard for the loan of the Televue 2x Barlow.

It wasn't the best of nights. The seeing was below average, and we had a pretty good breeze swirling around. Add to that my impatience--Mars was only 35° off the horizon--and you've got a pretty poor image. Still, it's better than my first attempt.

Meade ships the LPI with some Windows software that I tried out with craptacular results, so I used the OEM Mac driver from Sonix and processed with Lynkeos.

Took me seven attempts to find a good combination of exposure & gain. The final image is the best 150 or so out of 360 frames.