Saturday, December 31, 2011

M42, The Orion Nebula


There's a reason this is one the most-photographed deep sky objects.


Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 20 x 30 sec (10:00) @ ISO 400, 10 x 300 sec (50:00) 10 flat, 10 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: CI-700
Guider: AT80EDT, Meade DSI
Filter: Astronomic CLS
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stratocaster: Work In Progress





If I'm not gonna get paid to draw, I'm gonna draw what I want!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Portfolio Pieces

I was going through some things, thinking about adding them to the portfolio site. I like these, but is something I did 17 years ago still relevant? Everything from the last few years all sorta looks alike.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Job Search

The updated portfolio is here! If you're in need of a graphic designer/illustrator/tech writer or photographer, I'm available for freelance gigs or a full-time position.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

iSad

The Mac basically made my job possible. Sure, there have been designers and illustrators and photographers and musicians and creative people forever, but it was that box that made it possible to play in so many sandboxes, to explore so many things, to marry technology and creativity. So thanks, Steve.

I'm sad there won't be, "and one more thing" this time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Jupiter & Europa, 2 October 2011


Here's one more from the other night, this time with the moon Europa nearby.

It occurred to me; two of the greatest planetary imagers in the world are Facebook friends. Suddenly I'm embarrassed to post these. I sometimes feel like a kid putting his pictures up on the refrigerator and calling them art.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Jupiter, 2 October 2011 Reprocessed




I don't see any point in making more Jupiter pictures this season!

I take that back--I still want to get detail on Ganymede. I've seen it done, but not often.

Jupiter, 2 October 2011


This is why I stayed up late tonight.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Jupiter, 1 October 2011

Jupiter, 1 October 2011

It's been a long, hot summer. When the temperature is still over 90° at 11:00 p.m., my interest in astronomy wanes. But we've finally gotten a little break in the weather, so I pulled out the C11 and stayed up late to make this thoroughly uninspiring shot of Jupiter. The sky looked pretty steady naked-eye, but the focus kept drifting in and out.

Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 500 frames each L, R, G, B
Camera: Point Grey Research Flea @ 640x480, 16-bit
Scope: Celestron C-11, Televue 2.5x Powermate (f/25)
Mount: Celestron CI-700
Guider: none
Filter: Orion LRGB set
Software: AstroIIDC, Registax 6, Photoshop

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Outreach

If you've ever wondered what it's like trying to "do astronomy" with Cub Scouts, this is pretty close. If only he had a green laser, he could be answering "Is that a real laser? Where did you get it? How much does it cost? Can I use it? Will you point it at __?"

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

You're Doing It Wrong

Since Rick Perry asked Texans to pray for rain in April we have seen a continuation of the worst one-year drought in history, the hottest summer on record, and now while Louisiana and Mississippi get much-needed drenching rains we are getting wildfires in Texas.

Just the facts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School, 2011


Welcome to third grade buddy.

Some kids get new clothes to go back to school in. We just wear the same thing three years in a row. (2) (1)

Monday, August 01, 2011

NGC 7293, The Helix Nebula Reprocessed



X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 11 x 300 sec (55 min) @ ISO 1600, 0 flat, 6 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

IC 5146, The Cocoon Nebula Reprocessed


X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 30 x 480 sec (4 hours) @ ISO 1600, 20 flat, 8 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Sunday, July 31, 2011

IC 5146, The Cocoon Nebula


A disappointing result after 4 hours exposure. First attempt at 8-minute sub-exposures. The mount is capable of it, but I have some flexure somewhere between the guide camera and imaging camera. I have a couple of things to try--it just takes time.

A beautiful night at X-Bar Ranch though. A 2-minute shower about 7:30 knocked down the temperature. Transparency was a little soft, but the seeing was very steady.

X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 30 x 480 sec (4 hours) @ ISO 1600, 20 flat, 8 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Saturday, July 30, 2011

NGC 7293, The Helix Nebula


Not the definitive shot of this planetary nebula, but not awful either. Weather kept me from getting started until almost 0300, so this is just not quite an hour on a very dim object, and it suffered accordingly.

X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 11 x 300 sec (55 min) @ ISO 1600, 0 flat, 6 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Cygnus Loop


The visual portion of the Cygnus Loop is known as the Veil Nebula, also called the Cirrus Nebula or the Filamentary Nebula. Several components have separate names and identifiers,including the "Western Veil" or "Witch's Broom", and the "Eastern Veil."

The Western Veil, NGC 6960, is on the left. On the right is the Eastern Veil, NGC 6992. Pickering’s Triangular Wisp is the area in the lower half on the left.


Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 20 x 300 sec @ ISO 800, 10 flat, 10 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: Zenithstar 66, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: AT80EDT, Meade DSI
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Sunday, July 03, 2011

M20, The Trifid Nebula


A beautiful night at the Eagle Eye Observatory. I neglected to completely tighten the guide scope mounting screws, so there's a slight trailing. Dumb mistake.

Eagle Eye Observatory, Burnet, TX
Exposure: 24 x 300 sec (2 hours) @ ISO 800, 0 flat, 8 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Monday, June 13, 2011

Packaging Samples


I really like the way these turned out.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Zombie Survival

Somehow I wound up reading a discussion on how to survive the upcoming zombie attack, where I found this cute little item:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two More Saturns

Flea2

DMK21
It's surprisingly difficult to get consistent color.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

First Saturn of 2011



It took way too long to get this shot. Let's just say that between the clouds, the wind (especially the wind) and not wanting to stay up until 0300 and still go to work, this was the first decent opportunity I've had to shoot Saturn this time around.

There are a lot of firsts in this image: first light for the PGR Flea camera, first imaging attempt with the C-11 scope on the CI-700 mount, and first time using Registax 6 to process. I'm pretty pleased with the end result though.

Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 1500 frames each L, R, G, B
Camera: Point Grey Research Flea @ 640x480, 16-bit
Scope: Celestron C-11, Televue 2.5x Powermate (f/25)
Mount: Celestron CI-700
Guider: none
Filter: Orion LRGB set
Software: AstroIIDC, Registax 6, Photoshop

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Queue Management and the TSA

After visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, coming back through the airport in Orlando showed me just how badly the TSA is managing their queues.

If you fly only once a year like I do, and you arrive at the security line, do you know what you'll need to do once you reach the end of the line? How do you learn that? Apparently, you get to the front of the line to have an irritated, low-wage government employee bark unintelligible commands while the line backs up behind you. And woe if English isn't your native language. Surely there's a better way.

Now, I'm no expert in queue management. Apparently there's an entire discipline of study in that area. But I am a graphic designer, at least sometimes, and I do design materials that help people learn how to complete a task. In this case, the TSA had me in line for about 15 minutes. In that time, I could have watched a video screen show me step-by-step what to do when I reached the screener. Or I could have looked at a series of static displays graphically showing what to do with my bag, my laptop, my phone, my shoes, and whatever else.

Worried about who's going to pay for improved queues? Again, I was a captive audience for 15 minutes. What advertiser doesn't drool at that idea? Come on, this is first year b-school stuff. Either I'm missing something, or someone at TSA doesn't want to do this stuff, because if I can think of a half-dozen ways to improve the process of getting through the line, people who know about this stuff can do better.

And they're not. And that pisses me off.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Playing the Bagpipes

When I was younger, I played the bagpipes a bit. Many years ago, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in deep East Texas.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical male, I didn't stop to ask for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There was only the digging crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave, looked down and saw that the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played as if I were playing for the Queen of England.

And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my automobile. Though my head hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years!".

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sunday, April 03, 2011

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy



I got a little aggressive with the noise reduction, but I kind of like the painterly effect it created.

Shot this in blowing wind while everyone else was breaking down their gear. Glad I stuck it out.

X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 42 x 300 sec (3.5 hours) @ ISO 1600, 20 flat, 12 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Saturday, April 02, 2011

M65, M66: Galaxies in Leo



Messier 65 and make up part of the Leo Triplet, a small group of galaxies.

Photographed at X-Bar Ranch, between Eldorado and Sonora, Texas. There's no substitute for shooting from dark skies!

X-Bar Ranch, Eldorado, TX
Exposure: 36 x 300 sec (3 hours) @ ISO 1600, 10 flat, 10 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Floors



Stand by for astronomy: I'm headed to dark skies this weekend. But in the meantime, we got new floors!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A 2-Headed Elephant


Not like drawing power connections.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 04, 2011

I Just Can't Resist

Mike Huckabee, on Jamie Lynn Spears in 2007, unmarried and pregnant:
"Apparently, she's going to have the child and I think that is the right decision, a good decision, and I respect that and appreciate it. I hope it is not an encouragement to other 16-year-olds who think that is the best course of action."

"But at the same time I'm not going to condem her. There'll be plenty of people in line to do that and I always look for the shortest lines. I just hope that she will make another right decision and that's to give that child all the love and kindness and care that she can."


Mike Huckabee, on Natalie Portman in 2010, unmarried and pregnant:
"One of the most troubling things is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet that boasts of, hey look, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having children and they're doing just fine."

"There aren't really a lot of single moms out there that are making millions of dollars each year by being in a movie," Huckabee said. "I think it gives a distorted image that not everybody hires nannies and caretakers and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and would not get healthcare."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

M81 & M82, Bode's Galaxy & Cigar Galaxy


It's time once again to take a shot at this pair of galaxies off the Big Dipper. Best one of the lot, for sure. I'm definitely liking the AT6RC on the CI-700.

Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 60 x 180 sec (3 hours) @ ISO 800, 10 flat, 20 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Observatory Upgrades

It's been a busy winter here at Heritage Park Observatory. We've retired three telescopes, and added some new equipment.

It all started when I bought the Astro-Tech AT6RC 6-inch Ritchey-Chr├ętien astrograph. I had mounted it on the Meade LXD-650, but wasn't happy with the results. At the same time, I came across a great deal on a Celestron C-11, an 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. It took a little soul searching, but I decided to sell the LX200 and fund the C11. That left room to add a new mount, a used Celestron CI-700. The short tube 80 went with the LX200, but Mr. Daniel donated a used Zenithstar 66 to the stable. Got all that?

Before: 10" LX200, C6, AT80EDT & ST80, LXD-650 mount
After: C11, AT6RC, AT80EDT & ZS66, CI-700 and LXD-650 mounts

The end result is that the observatory is much more flexible in scope sizes. The CI-700 is semi-permanently mounted on the pier, and is capable of carrying the big C11 with the ZS66 riding piggyback, or any two-scope combination of AT6RC, AT80EDT and ZS66. The C11 should provide higher-resolution planetary imaging than the LX200, the AT6RC is an excellent all-around photography scope, the AT80EDT a good wide-field visual and imaging scope, and the ZS66 a lightweight guide scope also capable of wider fields than the AT80EDT.

The LXD-650 is now the portable setup. It can carry the C11 for visual use, which should make a nice setup for outreach activities, or it's good for imaging with the 80 or 66mm scopes. About the only time I might foresee taking the CI-700 into the field would be to travel to dark skies, like the Texas Star Party or X-Bar Ranch.

NGC 2392, The Eskimo Nebula


Still working on some differential flexure between the guide scope and the imaging scope, but getting very close now. The CI-700 mount tracks like a dream. I'm tempted to turn the guiding off and see what I can get.

This is a poor target choice for this scope/camera combination. (Too small.)

Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 8 x 300 sec (40 min) @ ISO 1600, 10 flat, 6 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Celestron CI-700/Skywalker
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dark Side of the Horse


She sounded excited to go star gazing with me; I don't understand why she was so disappointed when I showed up with a telescope.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Want This Job


This picture is from a story on space.com, "NASA's First Orion Space Capsule Ships Out for Big Tests." I want to know about the two banners haning up behind the Orion. Who does those, and how do I get that job?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

M42, The Orion Nebula


No matter how many times I shoot this, I'm always amazed at how differently each one comes out.

Heritage Park Observatory, Cedar Park, TX
Exposure: 30 x 60 sec (30:00) @ ISO 800, 10 flat, 10 dark
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) (modified)
Scope: AT6RC, AT2FF field flattener
Mount: Meade LXD 650
Guider: Zenithstar 66, Meade DSI
Filter: None
Software: PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, Photoshop

Monday, January 03, 2011

Why Football Announcers Should Stick to Football

Watching Stanford dismantle Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl and the announcer was listing some notable Stanford graduates: " … Sally Ride, first woman on the Moon …"

(She wasn't even the first woman in space--two Russian women went ahead of her.)