Monday, February 26, 2007

M95 & M96, Galaxies in Leo

I'm not going to win any awards for my deep space photography any time soon, but I'm happy to see anything at all.

Info from Starry Night Pro:
M95 and M96 are a fine pair of galaxies in Leo separated by a mere 42' and can be seen together in the same field with binoculars and telescopes under low magnification. Both are spiral galaxies with M96 being the brighter of the two. M95 has a bright core surrounded by a granular halo. In dark skies M95 might reveal hints of spiral structure and a bar extending from its centre region. Also nearby is the elliptical galaxy M105. Together, M95, M96 and M105 form the Leo Galaxy Group. The Hubble Space Telescope recently measured the distance to M95 using Cepheid variable stars, and used this distance measurement as one of the pieces of data in a new measurement of the age of the universe. The results of this study indicate that the universe is about 14 billion years old.

Another SketchUp Model

Here's my 10" LX200 model. The fork mount is in progress, but it's much more complex than the tube. The wedge will be last, but it should be a lot of fun to figure out.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Saturn In Average Seeing

Alpine Valley, In the Middle of the Night

This came out better than I thought it would, as the Moon was jumping all over the place last night.

My Best Moon Shot Yet

This is a composite of 10 shots with the SPC900NC in the LX200 through the 3.3 focal reducer. Each of the 10 shots was 250 frames, and anywhere from 6 to 12 alignment points in Registax. All of that to say this is probably my best moon shot yet.

Be sure to click for the full-size version (328 kb).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Not Very Good Saturn

It's a cruel irony that the best time to image planets is when they're as close to overhead as possible, so that mean imaging in the winter. But winter is the time when seeing is typically lousy. Those twinkling stars that look so nice in the winter sky? That's my nemesis lately.

Anyway, here's last night's effort with the SPC900NC:

Your Tax Dollars At Work

This pisses me off:

From this page at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ETX-90 Model

I'm staying up way too late playing with SketchUp. Here's a model of my ETX-90 telescope.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Venus and the New Moon

Or, the One That Sounds Like a 70s Pop Duo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Split Ring

A fun model for SketchUp of a split ring telescope mount. I actually have pieces of this in my garage; maybe someday it'll be a telescope.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

M81 & M82, Bode's Galaxy & Cigar Galaxy

Description from Starry Night Pro:
M81 and M82 are perhaps the most famous pair of galaxies in the sky and both can be seen in the same low magnification field of view. Both are spiral galaxies but M81 is nearly face on, while M82 is edge on. The contrast offered by these two galaxies is one of the visual delights of the night sky. M81 and M82 are separated by only 150 000 light years. Tens of millions of years ago, the larger (and ten times as massive) M81 passed close by its smaller neighbour, inducing a round of starburst formation in M82. It also led to the birth of over 100 globular clusters, and disrupted the appearance of M82, so much that it is sometimes classed as an irregular galaxy instead of a spiral galaxy. While quite faint in visible light, M82 is the brightest galaxy in the sky in the infrared region.

30 x 30 sec unguided with the Rebel XT @ ISO 800 through the ST80, riding piggyback on the LX200. Processed with Nebulosity. It's pretty noisy--I could have used many more exposures.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Moon Visits Saturn

The Moon and Saturn are 2° 43' apart in this picture, or about five times the width of the full moon. Shot this with my new (used) Canon 55-200 mm zoom that I traded an eyepiece for.

Here's a 400% enlargement of Saturn. If you squint, it kinda looks like the planet!

The clouds actually did me a favor. By catching the moon behind the cloud while Saturn was in the sucker hole, I was able to come close to getting a decent exposure on both.