Saturday, March 25, 2006

Damned If You Dew

There must have been at least 25 telescopes out at the dam last night for maybe the best night so far this year. I was late getting set up, but got nice views of the Leo Triplet (M65 group), and a whole mess of galaxies in Virgo.

I planned on staying out until 0200 to shoot Jupiter. The Great Red Spot was coming around and seeing was holding up pretty well. What I was unprepared for was the cold. By midnight it was in the 30s, and one fellow's thermometer read 34° at 0100. I held on, mostly by hanging out in the car or in front of Bryan's dam heater, but the iBook crapped out. I'm guessing it was a combination of the cold and dew, but the NexImage image was filled with the same herringbone noise I saw last time it was cold.

I got as far as focusing, but was geting so cold and miserable myself I decided to pack it in and wait for a warmer night.

So--imagine a nice picture of Jupiter here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saturn Variations, pt. 2

Brad Carlson, aka RedIrocZ-28 on the Cloudy Nights forums did a nice job touching up the latest Saturn:

CSC is forecasting 4/5 seeing for Friday night, turning to 5/5 early Saturday morning. Who needs sleep?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Saturn Variations

CSC said 3/5 seeing, but it may have been better. I shot 2k-frame streams, and stacked about 1500-1800 in Keith's Image Stacker. 10" LX200, 2.5x PowerMate & un-modded NexImage.

Nice view of the Crepe, but low contrast on the planet.

Same shot with highlight contrast enhanced. Kinda crunchy.

High (low? opposite) gamma capture. Sharpest of the lot, but no sign of the Crepe.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Spacewalker T-Shirts

I've put up a new CafePress store with this original illustration.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gassendi & The Crepe Ring

Sounds like a great name for a band.

Mare Humorum: "On the north 'shore ' is one of the most beautiful and intensively observed lunar formation, the walled plain Gassendi, about 55 miles in diameter. It has a curious lop-sided appearance and its walls are quite high and complete except on the extreme south where there is a gap. It seems that in the remote past the fluid material of the Mare Humorum destroyed this part of the south wall of Gassendi and flooded the south part of the floor. At the center is a splendid group of mountain peaks, the highest of which rises to 4000 feet. On the south-east part of the floor is the remnant of what was probably once a nearly concentric interior ring. Gassendi is notable because of the variety of details on its interior, among which are about 30 or 40 clefts. Two of the most prominent of these diverge from the central mountains over the floor in a south-west direction. Associated with these are two craterlets that are very bright at full moon. These and other clefts in the south-west part of the floor are easily visible in a four inch telescope but the others that are on the east half of the interior need large apertures to be seen. They criss-cross or run parallel in a complex manner and cannot all be seen on any one occasion. Good seeing, the right angle of illumination and favorable libration are essential for their successful visualization. The cleft system has been charted by different observers and there is a strange diversity among the different delineations. In fact, it has been said: "Every Man his own Gassendi". The north wall of Gassendi is intruded upon by the crater Clarkson and just to the east of the wall of Gassendi is sliced through by two prominent gaps that continue across the floor as two parallel clefts. On the east wall is a curious crater-like depression from which extends on the outside in a south-east direction the Percy Mountains defining the north-east border of the Mare Humorum." The Moon Observer's Handbook by Fred W. Price.

I shot this on a breezy night at the dam with pretty good seeing (3-4/5) using the LPI in the LX200 with the TeleVue 2x barlows. I compared the Meade LPI side-by-side with the NexImage, and for lunar imaging the image differences are too close to call. The LPI does have a different pixel size, so it has less apparent magnification.

I finally captured the "C" Ring around Saturn, aka the Crepe Ring. It's a pretty low contrast feature, so I turned the gain up on the camera much higher than I had been. The down side is that the image is noisier than usual, but that's OK.

Truth is, I was pretty disappointed when I was shooting this since the capture was so noisy. I was sure that the whole thing was going to be sucky, so now I'm extra pleased.

NexImage/LX200/TV 2x barlows. 600/1000 stacked in KIS, final processing in Photoshop.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Twenty Years Ago

And sixty pounds lighter.

This must have been the summer after my freshman year--1984. Clint's old boat on Lake Conroe. David took the picture.

David took this one too. Spring semester 1985, sophomore year. I was living on campus at J324 Prather Hall, and my phone number was 495-DUMB, but I don't remember my roommate's name that semester. (Marc?) I do remember he kept sweat-soaked hockey gear in the closet and was a cheapskate moocher. Anyway, I must have had a really repulsive personality, because if I couldn't get laid with body ...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pants on Fire

It's not my fault that politics is so interesting these days; CNN keeps lobbing up these softballs, and I'm compelled to swing at them.
"He lied so the plot could proceed unimpeded," Robert Spencer said in his opening statement. "He lied, and 3,000 people died."

Is Spencer referring to A: Admitted al Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui, or B: George W. Bush?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Not Too Shabby

CSC said 3/5, so I went for it. Dropped the frame rate on the NexImage from "best" to 5 with interesting results--the image is actually noisier. I took a minute to tweak collimation beforehand too, and it may have helped. If it was out, it was a very close, as I just barely touched it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Will the Real Patriot Please Stand Up?

OK, one more political post. I thought it was ironic that this moron said this while discussing renewing the "Patriot" act:
"Civil liberties do not mean much when you are dead," Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky, told the Senate.

Looks like we've come a long way from "Give me liberty, or give me death."