Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year


Palm Tree (Moon Over Miami):


Saturday, December 30, 2006

High Dynamic Range

I've been reading about using multiple exposures to generate high dynamic range photos, where you can retain both highlight and shadow detail by combining over- and under-exposed images. Here are some of first attempts made at sunset at LKY Ranch.

Friday, December 29, 2006

NGC 2024, The Flame Nebula

You usually see pictures of the Flame alongside it's famous neighbor, the Horsehead Nebula, and you usually see it in a bright red flaming (sorry) color. Well, that red color comes from ionized hydrogen, and it's a specific wavelength that my stock Canon 350D is virtually blind to (and is going to remain that way since I don't want to spend the $350 to have an internal filter removed from the camera). So instead, here's a closeup of the flame without the red.

Information from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day:
Explanation: What lights up the Flame Nebula? Fifteen hundred light years away towards the constellation of Orion lies a nebula which, from its glow and dark dust lanes, appears like a billowing fire. But fire, the rapid acquisition of oxygen, is not what makes this Flame glow. Rather the bright star Alnitak, the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion visible to the nebula's right, shines energetic light into the Flame that knocks electrons away from the great clouds of hydrogen gas that reside there. Much of the glow results when the electrons and ionized hydrogen recombine. … The Flame Nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a star-forming region that includes the famous Horsehead Nebula.

I don't have all the exposure details, but it's 30 frames stacked from the 10" LX200 @ f/6.3 and Canon 350D.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Pictures

Christmas pictures are here.

More of the ones Ian shot himself are here.

STS-166 and the ISS

Holy cow, I wish I had shot this! Imaged by Paul Rix in Zanesville, Ohio. The shuttle and space station passed approximately 212 miles directly overhead. This image was shot an hour before the shuttle undocked from the station. Shot with the same telescope I own, a Meade 10" LX200 Classic, and a Philips SPC900NC web cam, this image is the best of nearly 3500 frames.

Be sure to click for the full-size image.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

NGC 2392, The Eskimo Nebula

Maybe not the definitive photo of this object, but at least it's recognizable. 160 x 20 seconds processed in Nebulosity. Stock 350D in the 10" LX200 @ f/10. I'm still dealing with PE, mirror flop and guidescope flex, and imaging at 2500 mm focal length just makes it worse.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Telescope Connections

How I connect my Canon EOS 350D to my Meade LX200:

The variable-t adapter gives me about 118mm spacing--maybe a tad much, but it's close. I may try removing the long t-adapter and moving the focal reducer to the front of the focuser. The spacing changing with the focus kinda weirds me out, though.

How I connect the MacBook to the telescope, camera and guide camera:

Man, that's a lot of stuff hanging off the back of the scope. I don't know how I'd want to shorten it up, though. Maybe invent a low-profile focuser where the drawtube actually extends up into the LX200 baffle?

[Edit: 3 February 2007]
Looks like someone stole my idea, sort of. Check out this focuser from Moonlight where the focal reducer attaches to the end of the drawtube. Very slick!

[Edit: 22 March 2008]
Here's another slick solution to the long overhang. He's moved the focal reducer to inside the focuser drawtube. Good stuff.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

(Sorry folks, no astronomy today--it's gloomy out.)

Has anyone considered testing Senator Tim Johnson for polonium 210?

Monday, December 11, 2006

First Light: Meade DSI+Nebulosity

I'm borrowing Barry's DSI to try it out with Nebulosity and OS X, and boy, do I like it. I had tried this camera before using the Meade software, but it's Windows only, and, to me at least, it was everything that's wrong with Windows--ugly, counter-intuitive, and uncontrollable. Nebulosity, on the other hand, is a breeze to work with.

Anyway, here's the heart of M42, the Orion Nebula. This is a short, quickie job--just 10 frames X 15 sec at full gain, through the LX200 with the f/3.3 reducer.

Update: I reprocessed the capture using Drizzle, and found some more detail:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Makes a Great Gift

Need a gift for the designer in your life? Why not Lorem Ipsum apparel from Not Another Lorem Ipsum Store! Features the classic "Latin" phrase used by typesetters and designers since the 1500s.

The Ability to Write in English Might Be Useful, Too

The best candidates will be have be working toward or have a degree in graphic design and know these software programs:
Illustrator , Photoshop , Quark Express


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Woodlands Christmas Parade

Linda driving Squeak & Bella, while Ian, Keith & I entertain the crowd. December 2, 2006.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas In Austin

How to tell you're in Austin for Christmas:
1. Santa is wearing cowboy boots, and
2. Your child is wearing shorts because it's still 80 degrees the week after Thanksgiving.