Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Star HIP110580 is about to be occulted by the full moon during a total lunar eclipse early Tuesday morning.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day of School

Man, he just keeps getting bigger and bigger, even if he is wearing the same shirt as last year. We've sorta made it a tradition to wear a yellow shirt on the first day. More pictures...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Seeing In The Dark

Coming to PBS September 19, 2007

America's Writer Laureate of astronomy invites millions of viewers to enjoy the wonders of the night sky in a spectacular HDTV special

Stargazing is the subject of Seeing in the Dark, a 60-minute, state-of-the-art, high-definition (HDTV) documentary by Timothy Ferris that premieres on PBS September 19, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. The film, Ferris' third, is based on his book, Seeing in the Dark (2002), named by The New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year.

"Seeing in the Dark is meant to alter, inspire and illuminate the lives of millions," said Ferris. "It introduces viewers to the rewards of first-person, hands-on astronomy — from kids learning the constellations to amateur astronomers doing professional-grade research in discovering planets and exploding stars. I hope it will encourage many viewers to make stargazing part of their lives, and a few to get into serious amateur astronomy."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Joke

Two guys, one old and one young, are pushing their carts around at Home Depot when they collide. The old guy says to the young guy, "Sorry about that. I'm looking for my wife, and I guess I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."

The young guy says, "That's OK. It's a coincidence. I'm looking for my wife, too. I can't find her and I'm getting a little worried."

The old guy says, "Well, maybe we can help each other. What does your wife look like?

The young guy says, "Well, she is 27 yrs old, tall, with red hair, green eyes, long legs, big boobs, and she's wearing tight white shorts. What does your wife look like?"

The old guy says, "Doesn't matter -- let's look for yours."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

M17 Revisited

So I made sure everything was tight this time, and man, what a difference! I could have used some flats, but otherwise I'm pleased as punch. Every sub was a keeper! This was the first time I've been able to go all the way to 180 seconds, and it looks like I can still go longer. 30 x 180 sec., 350D @ 1600 ISO, 10" LX200 @ f/6.3.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

M17, The Omega Nebula

Info from Wikipedia here.

This is the shot that almost wasn't. As I was was watching the subs being captured, I noticed a lot of trailing in them, like the guiding wasn't working. I fussed and I fiddled with the settings, even recalibrated the software twice. After I finally gave up and was putting things away for the night, I discovered that the locking screw on the guide scope focuser was loose. The guide camera had been moving around with the loose drawtube. Arrrgh!

Anyway, I managed to salvage enough decent frames to put this shot together. I can't guess how long it was, somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half total. Same setup as M16.

Monday, August 06, 2007

M16, The Eagle Nebula

By far one of the most famous pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope is Pillars of Creation. I'm not set up to come anywhere close, but I'm very happy with this shot of the Eagle Nebula. Both guiding and focus seem to have been nearly spot on, and we actually had a nice steady, transparent sky tonight.

40 x 120 seconds, Rebel XT @ 1600 ISO, 10" LX200 @ f/6.3

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Star Hopping Through The Teapot

Finally! A break in the weather and a trip to the dam. Barry and another fellow set up scopes as well, and we had a long visit by a fellow who just bought a 10" dob, but didn't bring it out. I was trying out a "lazy susan" bearing upgrade to the 6-inch dob, and set up the little ETX-90 just for fun. The bearings work well, but it's a little too loose. I think I can tighten up the center bolt and slow it down. It's definitely easier to use than when it was sticking on the nylon pads though.

So anyway, I was going old school with my red flashlight and sky chart, finding my way around Sagittarius. You're looking right into the heart of the Milky Way, so it's chock full of goodies. M8, the Lagoon Nebula, is still one of my favorite summertime sights. With the nebula and open cluster together, it's two treats in one. It's a short hop from there up to the Trifid, M20, and the open cluster M21. Head northeast and pick up M24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud. I can't tell where its boundaries are, so I just pick the densest portion of star field and say that's it. Keep swinging over the top of the lid and get another open cluster, M25. Not terribly exciting, so drop toward the ground, and just off the top of the lid is M28, a nice little globular cluster. East from there is another glob, M22, the Sagittarius Cluster. Spend a little time there, that's the nicest cluster you're looking at tonight.

Now for three dim ones. Working right to left across the base of the teapot, get M69 first. You'll appreciate why Chuck thought these might have been comets. Then, almost centered on the line across the base is M70. It might as well be identical to M69. As long as you're there, NGC 6652 makes a triangle with the 2 Messiers. Then head east and up a smidge and catch M54. It's not much to look at until you remember that it's an exogalactic cluster outside the Milky Way.

Finish up with two nice open clusters, M7, Ptolemy's Cluster, and the appropriately-named Butterfly Cluster, M6. Not a bad night; beats watching it rain!