Sunday, May 31, 2009

First Pictures With Celestron Firstscope

Well, my camera/telescope parts finally arrived the other day and I had a chance to try them out tonight for the first time and figure out how they work. As I posted earlier, I bought a Celestron FirstScope from a local store called Neural Net Interactive. I also ordered a t-ring adapter, 1 1/4 adapter and 3x barlow from Khan Scope. I mounted the adapters onto my Nikon D80 just to test them out. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Of course, I shot the Moon. I did try Saturn, but it clouded over. So, below is my first ever attempt at taking photos through a telescope. I am, however, looking at getting a more powerful scope, namely one similar to the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD. Hopefully that will help my photo-taking skills through the telescope. Anyway, enjoy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day and Night Moon and Clouds

I know it seems like all I post is pictures of the Moon. Well, that is true, but there are reasons for that. The first is that I love taking pictures of the Moon. Absolutely love it. The second reason is because I'm not sure how to use my camera with the telescope yet, so until I do, I'll keep photographing what I can see through my camera. Anyway, below are pictures taking this afternoon and tonight of the Moon and some cloud cover. Not stunning photos, but better than just the Moon by itself. The bottom photo seems out of focus because of the thin layer of cloud creating a haze over the Moon. It was actually in focus though.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

First Pictures With Nikon D90

Well, it's finally arrived. My Nikon D90 that is. I've waited for this for a long time now. I got my D80 last summer, and although it is a good camera, the D90 just does a few things better. And it has live view, which I like. Anyway, below are the first pictures I have taken with it. Naturally, they are of the Moon, probably my favorite thing to photograph. I should also mention that these photos were taken through a 70-300mm lens with a 1.5x converter attached. The bottom look similar, but they are slightly different. Different camera settings and slightly different Moon position.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Moon Descent

I managed to capture a really neat looking crescent Moon tonight off my front steps. It was dusk out and the Moon had barely risen and was rapidly descending. There were all taken with my Nikon D80 and 70-300mm lens with 1.5x converter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Selling Meteorites

Since there seems to be an interest in meteorites, I have decided to sell some of the ones I found this month. I found about 19 altogether of different shapes and sizes from the Buzzard Coulee fall on Nov. 20, 2008. I will post some photos soon. In the meantime, below is a list of all the sizes I have to sell. The weights are all in grams and the price is $15 per gram. Here is the list - 3.4, 4.3, 6.9, 7.0, 7.8, 7.9, 8.5, 9.4, 10.4, 13.3, 15.8, 16.1, 25.7. If you're interested, you can post a comment here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meteorites Through the Microscope

Thanks to my friend Bob of Blackholes and Astrostuff who photographed the meteorites below through his Celestron LCD digital microscope. They look really astounding. These meteorites belong to the Buzzard Coulee fall of Nov. 20, 2008 (see earlier posts for info on this meteorite). I'm not sure what all the features are called, other than the chondrules (?), but they look fantastic anyway. The meteorites were collected by myself on May 2, 2009, near Marsden, SK. The bottom photo is of Angrite. The picture was sent to me by Bob. It looks amazing. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another New Mini Telescope

While researching the Celestron FirstScope, I stumbled upon the Galileoscope. The telescope is called a Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy. The idea behind this telescope is to help educate people on what Galileo Galilei first observed with his telescopes, namely Jupiter's moons as well as discoveries involving the Sun, Moon and Venus. The telescope itself looks really neat.

Another important aspect of this international telescope project is to assist those who wouldn't normally be able to afford a telescope with being able to do so. This project is endorsed by the United Nations and UNESCO and the aim is to help stimulate worldwide interest in science.

This refractor telescope comes as a 30-piece kit with simple instructions for no-tools assembly. Apparently, it can be assembled in 5 minutes or less. It is constructed from ABS tubes that snap together. Its achromatic optics include a 50 mm objective lens of focal length 500 mm, an eyepiece of focal length 20 mm (magnification 25x), and a 2x Barlow lens, effectively increasing the magnification to 50x. It accepts almost any optical accessory that has a standard 1¼-inch barrel, which means that a camera should be able to be mounted to it with a 1¼- inch T-ring adapter. The only part needed is a tripod.

Below is an image of the Moon taken through the Galileoscope. Looks really good. I'm excited to receive mine. They are supposed to be shipped in early June, so hopefully that doesn't change.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mini Telescope

After spending some time with my friend Bob of Blackholes and Astrostuff, I got to check out his new telescope. It is a Celestron FirstScope. The FirstScope pays tribute to Galileo Galilei and many of history's most notable astronomers and scientists by displaying their names around the optical tube.

It is a small Dobsonian type reflector telescope that has been named Official Product of International Year of Astronomy 2009. It features a 76 mm aperture and 300 mm focal length, yet only weighs about two pounds and stand about 18" high. I will be the first, actually the second after Bob, to admit that this little scope surprised me a lot. It is surprisingly clear, easy to use, yet sturdy and well made with smooth actions all around. It comes with a 4 mm eyepiece. All of this for only $62.49 CAD, if bought from Celestron. The only downside of ordering from Celestron is the shipping tends to be high. The FirstScope is also carried by Khan Telescope for $69.00 and cheaper shipping than Celestron.

The other neat thing about this is there is a FirstScope accessory kit for only $24.94 CAD. It features a 12.5 mm and a 6 mm eyepiece, a Moon filter, a 5x24" spotting scope, a CD-ROM explaining the basics of astronomy, and a tote bag to carry the telescope and accessories in.

I have ordered the above scope and accessory kit and am anxious to get my camera mounted to it and take some photos, but that's a topic for a future post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saskatchewan Meteorite Hunt

Well, it happened yesterday - I got to hunt for meteorites. The meteor fell on November 20, 2008. We left at 6:00 a.m. and drove for three hours to a place called Buzzard Coulee, near Marsden, Saskatchewan. There was a group of nine of us walking the farmer's field. We walked in a straight line, about an arms length apart. We each had long dowels with strong magnets on the ends to pick up the pieces. The pieces contain a lot of magnetic iron. The "leader" of the group has a GPS unit plotting our course. Each time one of us would find a meteorite, he would put the coordinates in the GPS to keep track of the "hot spot". I believe the meteorites are called H4 iron chondrites.

I must say that it was completely exciting finding the first one. This is a "rock" that has travelled millions of miles to get here. It has not been touched by any other human in history. I was the first one to touch the first piece I found, as well as subsequent pieces. In total, I was fortunate to find 11 pieces. They are all numbered and will be weighed. Half of the pieces will go to the farmer as "payment" for access to his land. This is a strange concept because no one actually owns mineral rights like that. It's not technically the farmer's, but such is life I guess. Anyway, below are some pictures from the hunt.

This is a picture of the moose that ran by us in the field.