Sunday, August 23, 2009

Aurora, Galaxies, and Jupiter, Oh My

I went out to the RASC Saskatoon Centre's dark site a few nights ago to capture some images. The sky was amazingly clear, until the dew started to fall. However, I still managed to snap some neat stuff that I've never photographed before. The night was full of wonderful sights, including Aurora, Jupiter, Milky Way, Andromeda Galaxy, Pleiades, meteors, and a jet airplane.

I tried to upload the images I shot and Blogger completely messed them up, so I've linked the photos below to my Flickr account, so if you click on a photo, it will go to my Flickr site.

Anyway, I managed to catch some good shots of the Milky Way, including some with meteors streaking through them. I also snapped Jupiter with the Milky Way; the Milky Way with Cassiopeia, the Andromeda Galaxy and a meteor streaking by; Jupiter and the Milky Way, Andromeda and the Pleiades; and the Pleiades with aurora. I also got a jet flying through a Milky Way picture. That was kind of neat.

I should also mention that all of these photos were taken using only a Nikon D90 with an 18-55mm lens on a tripod.

The photo below is of the Milky Way and a meteor streaking by just to the right of center.

Here is the same shot with a little different editing. It hopefully appears lighter.

Here is another attempt at the same photo to edit it so it's brighter.
DSC_0238c copy

This photo is photo of the Milky Way with a jet flying through the photo. I thought it was kind of neat.

This photo is of a brief appearance of the aurora.

This is more of a close-up of the Pleiades.

This is a wide angle shot with the Pleiades toward the bottom just to the right of center.

This photo has the Milky Way going down the middle of it, with Cassiopeia in the middle of the picture. The Andromeda Galaxy is to the right of center and about one third of the way from the right side of the photo. It looks like an orangey, fuzzy ball.

This photo has a meteor in it toward the bottom just right of center.

This photo has Cassiopeia in the middle toward the top, with Andromeda to the right of that and a meteor toward the lower left.

This is a wide angle shot with the Pleiades in the lower right.

This photo has Jupiter shining bright on the lower left and the Milky Way on the right side.

Here is the same photo with different editing.
DSC_0243b copy

This one has the Milky Way running down the middle with two meteors forming a V about one third from the right side, just above the middle.

This photo is of Jupiter and four of its moons.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cypress Hills Summer Star Party (SSSP 09)

This year's edition of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Saskatchewan Summer Star Party (SSSP 2009). We left Saskatoon and it looked to be a promising weekend for star gazing. Apparently the weather had other ideas. We arrived on Thursday night in the rain. It rained and was foggy/hazy most of the day on Friday and that night. It was cold and windy on Saturday until it started raining just after lunch. It poured buckets the rest of the day and all night. It continued to rain all day Sunday until we arrived home. 300-400 people with telescopes and not one got used. It was the first time in 15 years that the entire weekend was rained out.

The picture below is a shot of the weather on Sunday just before we left.

And wouldn't you know it, back to work Monday, was clear, hot and sunny. Now tonight, it's cloudy and going to rain. We just can't win this summer. I don't know who is being punished, but man they must have done something bad to deserve this.

On the bright side, there were some great speakers, good food, fantastic door prizes and good times getting to know other astronomy enthusiasts. For example, Alan Dyer was there. He is a wonderful film maker, astronomer and photographer. I bought a copy of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, co-written by Alan Dyer. He had a book signing, so I got mine by him. The other bonus was staying in a condo with my family. Always good times when you hang out with family. We played mini golf as well.

One cool thing I got to do was be involved with the door prizes. My Dad was able to get a huge amount of door prizes. I was able to donate two of them - a Galileoscope and one of the meteorites that I found from the Buzzard Coulee fall from November 20, 2008. Below is a picture similar to the one I donated.

The people were the highlight of the weekend. There were lots of great people who are very smart and fun to hang around and have a good time with. So, all in all, even though the skies didn't agree, the weekend turned out to be fun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Waning Moon and Jupiter

Not much to say about this. It's pretty obvious what it is. Just happened to catch the Moon and Jupiter the other night before the clouds rolled in. I wanted to try out my new Celestron 2x barlow again and was extremely happy with the results.

These were taken with my 3x barlow.

These ones of Jupiter and three of it's moons were taken with the 3x barlow as well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Almost Perfect Moon

Tonight the Moon was about 99% full. It was clear out, there was no wind and I was able to capture some great shots. They were all taken through my Orion 4.5" telescope using a Nikon D90.

This first shot was with just the camera and no barlow lens.

These next shots were taken using a Celestron Ultima 1.25" - 2x barlow (part # 93506). I was able to order it from our local store Neural Net Interactive. It was the first time I had used it, so I was anxious to try it. I think the results speak for themselves.

These next two shots were taken using a Antares 3x barlow that I bought from Khan Scope in Toronto, ON. I'm not terribly happy with the overall quality of this barlow. I think if I could, I would have gotten a Celestron one. Oh well, live and learn.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Orange Moon

"I'm an orange Moon
I'm an orange Moon
Reflecting the light of the Sun"
Orange Moon - Erykah Badu

I was driving home last night and the Moon was beautiful. It was orange. Most of the rest of the sky was cloudy, but there was the orange Moon, just floating there. I was able to capture it before it clouded over. The current Moon is referred to as an apogee Moon due to the distance from the Earth it is. The Moons average distance is about 380,000 km. An apogee Moon is at it's furthest point from the Earth. It is about 406,000 km away right now. A perigee Moon can get as close as about 360,000 km. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sun Photos

"Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon"
The Sun - Mary Oliver

Almost as fascinating as the Moon is the Sun. The Sun has been worshipped for thousands of years and has a rich history in human culture, including the ancient Egyptians associating it with their deity Ra, the Greeks associated it with their gods Helios and Apollo. In literature, Icarus is said to have attempted to fly to the Sun, but his wings melted. It goes on and on. Without the Sun, life as we know it would not exist. It is as essential as water.

I've always wanted to capture the splendor of the Sun. Well, now I got the chance. It seemed to be somewhat hazy tonight and created a wonderful effect with the Sun. Below are some of the photos I took of the Sun before it set tonight. They are taken with a Nikon D90, 70-300mm lens and 1.5x tele-converter. All of the photos are the originals and have not been edited in any way.