Thursday, September 29, 2011

2010 Perseid Meteor Shower

Well, after a much-too long absence from blogging, it's time for me to catch up a bit. I'll be posting a number of articles over the next few little while to get caught up with the present.

The first post is regarding the Perseid Meteor Shower from August 2010. The Perseid's appear to originate from the constellation Perseus and are the remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The peak rate of the meteor shower has seemed to diminish over the years. When I was a kid, I remember we would count over 100 per hour. This past August, we didn't even count 30 per hour. It could have been that it was somewhat cloudy, but the shower is nothing like what it used to be. The average peak rate currently is about 60 per hour.

Below are pictures from the shower, which I photographed with my astro-buddy Bob Johnson of Blackholes and Astrostuff. The first three images were taken with a Canon 40D and Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye lens. The last one was taken with a Nikon D90 and 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Blessings?

It's been a whirlwind month so far, and all because of one picture that I took, which is shown below. It was taken with a Canon 40D and my new Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens.

I had also taken photos of the Perseid Meteor Shower a week after the Aurora, but more on that later. I had submitted my photos to and three of them got posted at the bottom of the following pages -

August 2010 Aurora Gallery page 3

August 2010 Aurora Gallery page 4

As a result of the postings, a reporter from got a hold of me and asked my permission to use one of the photos in a news story she was working on. Naturally, I said, "Yes." The story got posted on the and websites. Aurora story Aurora story

Then I got contacted by a guy who works for the Group for Earth Observation GEO and asked permission to use one of the photos in their magazine. Again, I said, "Yes." Once it is ready, I'll post some photos of it.

After that, I submitted one of the photos to the Astronomy Photo of the Day webstite APOD. While it didn't make the cut to get posted their, a woman asked permission to post the photo of the websites forum called Starship Asterisk - APOD and General Astronomy Discussion Forum

Then, the CTV News morning show Canada AM and I were in talks to do an on-camera interbiew to be broadcast during the show. Unfortunately, due to a major breaking news story, it had to be postponed. I had to submit a number of photos to them on the Aurora and the Perseid Meteor Shower, as well as a headshot in case they wanted to do a phone interview instead. Well, I'm still waiting to hear about that.

However, as a consolation prize, my Aurora photo appeared on a blog by a reporter at the local newspaper, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Her blog is called Mousing Around and the post she did on my photo can be found here.

As a result of her efforts, my Aurora photo was also printed in the Star Phoenix newspaper. Below is the picture of my Aurora photo in the newspaper along with a story about my good friend Bob of Blackholes and astrostuff.

One of my meteor shower pictures was chosen as one of the Yahoo Editorial Perseid Meteor Gallery.

And finally, to top it all off, one of my Aurora photos was chosen as the SkyNews Editor's Choice Photo of the Week.

I feel very blessed to have received all of this attention. It means a lot to me and has been a very special experience.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Auroras and Meteors

I was fortunate enough to be able to capture the spectacular Aurora on August 3, 2010 and the Perseid Meteor shower on August 12, 2010. I was out with Bob of Blackholes and astrostuff for each event. We both snapped hundreds of photos and managed to pull off a few shots. The Aurora was an amazing event. The colors were something else, with lots of green and purple (which I have never seen in Aurora before).

The meteor shower was a bit lackluster. It was definitely not the same as previous years, where 100 meteors per hour was common. Not this year. We were lucky if we saw 20 the whole night. I had two cameras snapping photos and ended up taking about 450 pictures in total, but only caught about 15 meteors. It had also been raining all day so it was humid, which made it hard to keep the camera lens from fogging up. It also got cloudy, as you'll see in the pictures.

The pictures below are of the Aurora first, then meteors. Enjoy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rising Moon

After years of looking at the Moon and photographing it for the past few, I still have to admit that it is one of my favorite night sky objects. Even though when it is up it washes out a good portion of the other objects, I never get tired of looking at it. I finally had the chance to catch a wonderful event - a full Moon rising from the horizon when it was large and orange.

I went out on July 24, 2010 with my good friend Bob of Blackholes and astrostuff fame. We were on time and set up and ready to go, but where the heck was the Moon? Our Moon phase info was accurate and we knew it was up, but what in the world was going on? It turns out that for one, there was a lot of forest-fire smoke in the sky above the horizon where we were looking for the Moon. The next problem is that we were out in our calculation of where it would be rising. So, by the time we noticed it, it had risen a couple of Moon widths from the horizon. No worries though, all turned out well and we were able to catch some decent shots.

The next night, July 25, 2010, we were both out at separate locations shooting the Moon again. It was cloudy in the area it was rising, but alas, the clouds dissipated and the Moon was out in full force. It was huge to say the least and looked amazing. I wish I had my telescope with me that night to take some Moon pictures through that, but I didn't. No problem. I managed to get some shots I was very happy with. Below are photos from both evenings. All were shot using a tripod-mounted Nikon D90 with a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens and a 1.5x teleconverter, with a remote shutter release. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Firm hopes method resonates with mining industry

Below is a link to a Star Phoenix article about Leaf and Stone. The guys who own the company, Robert Fisher and Murray McArthur are two smart guys who I consider friends. We're working together on a project and I am excited to be a part of it. I've also included the text of the story, in case the link on the Star Phoenix site ever changes.

Firm hopes method resonates with mining industry

"Firm hopes method resonates with mining industry Satellite-based data analysis touted for exploration

By Cassandra Kyle, The StarPhoenix - June 30, 2010

As the old saying goes, if something is too good to be true it usually is.

It's an adage Saskatoon businessperson Robert Fisher, CEO of Leaf and Stone Resonance Services Ltd. (L&S) is fighting against as he tries to spread the word about a new type of mineral exploration technology that uses satellite-based data analysis to locate Mother Nature's hidden resources.

"Give us a sample and we'll find the match -- it doesn't really matter what you're looking for," Fisher said in a recent interview.

"What we're really doing is we're taking a physics and a mathematical solution to a geological problem."

Using resonance coupling technology, a method developed by his Austin, Texas-based friend and business partner David Carr, the company surveys a client's property via satellite looking for a match to the sample substance provided. So far the technology, which is licensed to Carr's company Natural Resource Testing LLC, has found oil, gas, gold, diamonds and several other natural substances using the unique method.

Clients have been satisfied with the resonance coupling results, but it has been difficult for L&S, which acts as the marketing agent for the technology, to convince long-serving mining industry executives to give the technology a try.

"No one believes us. It's been our biggest issue," said Fisher, a longtime Saskatoon resident who used to work in the heath-care software industry.

"We say we have great credibility, but I'm sure to geologists and geophysicists we have none. . . . But it's just a matter of time -- 30 clients are now 40 and it's growing."

In a nondescript office in downtown Saskatoon, Fisher presents evidence of the technology's accuracy: Maps showing the resonance coupling picking up the gold vein between Red Lake and Madsen, Ont.; notes of thanks, including one praising the company for informing a client the actual location of its gold deposit was really 30 metres in the opposite direction and a letter of reference from an oil and gas company praising the veracity of the exploration method.

Resonance coupling, Fisher explained, isn't supposed to replace traditional mineral exploration methods. Based on the physics principle that every substance on earth has a unique resonance signal, the technology can focus in on where deposits are located, increasing accuracy and reducing needless drilling.

"Is saves you money, which is the big name in exploration," he said.

With the industry naturally skeptical of new technology -- especially one such as resonance coupling -- Fisher understands any acceptance of the unique exploration system will take time.

Still, with a sales office recently opening in Australia and the company recording its first repeat customer just last week, Fisher remains positive about the applications of the technology he believes is worth billions of dollars.

"I truly believe that is the battle; we need to just convert people," he said.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

RASC - Saskatoon Centre New Members Night

After a far-too long absence, mainly due to such horrible weather for most of the past few months, I finally have a new post. At a local meeting of our astronomy club (RASC - Saskatoon Centre), I had suggested we have a new members night as a way to get new people out and have some experienced astronomers share their knowledge. As a new(er) member myself, I thought this would be a good idea since there is much I need to learn about astronomy in general.

We met at the University of Saskatchewan Observatory on June 17th. It was organized mainly by Patricia G (thanks for that). Local members Richard Huziak and Mike Clancy spoke to us. Rick talked about choosing telescopes, eyepieces and binoculars, etc. while Mike spoke about the Explore the Universe certificate program offered by the RASC. There were about 10 people who were out to listen to the talks, which were both enjoyable, informative and entertaining. Thanks to Rick and Mike for speaking.

Below are some images of the talk itself and of the observatory. The observatory has been a fixture on the U of S campus for many years. It houses a 6-inch telescope. For more info on the observatory, visit this link.

Rick Huziak talking telescopes

Mike Clancy showing a star chart

U of S Observatory

6-inch telescope

Meteorite collection

Copies of the first star charts and such

Copy of Galileo's notes

Old telescope

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Northern Lights In the North (Sort Of)

I had the chance to finally capture some Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) on April 5, 2010. I was out with my good friend Bob of Blackholes and Astrostuff and went just outside the city limits to catch them. They didn't last too long, so we had to work fast. For my first time photographing them, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. At first, I was skeptical about how the shots would turn out, because I was using my Nikon D90, which is notoriously bad for the level of noise it introduces into night shots. But, with a little tweaking using my software, I was able to get the shots looking half-decent.

Aurora's are basically the emission of photons in Earth's upper atmosphere. For a more detailed description, please click here. I can try to explain it but I'm not a science-type guy and therefore wouldn't do it justice. Also, in the title, I have sort of in brackets. The reason for that is because while we may be fairly north of some places that can see the Northern Lights, we are not far enough to see the amazing ones that are seen in the Arctic. They still look pretty awesome.

And a special thanks to Planetaryman (my Dad) for being my newest follower.

Enjoy the photos. And hopefully, Blogger won't butcher them too much this time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Earth Hour In Saskatoon

The theme this year at the Centre Mall in Saskatoon for Earth Hour is "Go Celestial". Saturday, March 27, 8:30-9:30pm at the entrance by Tony Tomas is the place to be during Earth Hour. Here is a link to the Earth Hour Canada site.

Earth Hour was started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when over 2 million homes turned off their lights for one hour to bring awareness to climate change. In 2008, over 50 million people in 35 countries participated and in 2009, more than 88 countries took part. 2010 is sure to be even bigger.

Last year in Saskatoon, there was a large line-up of people at the Centre Mall, so this year only promises to be bigger (weather providing of course). I plan on being there for this event, as does Bob of Blackholes and Astrostuff. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Saskatoon Centre will be setup as well with telescopes set up. But Bob cautions everyone to maybe be there about 30 mins ahead of time to setup your scopes before viewing starts.

The first link below is to the page on the mall site about the event. It's the second from the bottom. The last link is the flyer the mall has put together for this event.

Centre Mall events

Centre Mall flyer

Hope to see you out

Earth Hour - Logo

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zodiacal Lights (and Casino Lights)

On March 6, 2010, I went out with Bob of Blackholes and Astrostuff to photograph the Zodiacal Lights. Zodiacal light is caused by sunlight reflecting off of dust particles in the solar system known as cosmic dust, known as the interplanetary dust cloud. It usually appears as a triangle-shaped column of light in the western sky in the spring just after the evening twilight has disappeared, or in autumn just before morning twilight appears.

The following picture is one that was taken the same night as the ones above. It is of our local Dakota Dunes Casino lights shining into the sky causing light pollution. Unfortunately, the casino operators have no respect for astronomy nor care that the light pollution is a problem. Thus, the lights persist night after night. Orion constellation is in the center, The Hyades are up and to the right of that and the Pleiades are in the top right corner.