Friday, August 31, 2012

Solar binocular scan

A lunchtime binocular scan showed that the sunspots from the day before were close to rotating off of the solar disc but new sunspot activity had emerged.

Hydrogen Alpha shoot August 31st

I woke up to bright sunshine and at 0745 GMT, I was doing a hydrogen alpha shoot while my laptop was receiving my e-mails. I was not only pleased to see the Sun showing even more detail than the day before but also the features I had seen the day before were still there. I even captured a couple of prominences that I hadn't seen visually.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hydrogen alpha shoot

At 1200 GMT there was enough clear sky to see the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. Unfortunately, the cloud moved in before I could complete the shoot. I could see a small prominence and 3 large filaments but couldn’t capture all of them “on film”.

Blue Moon

As this is now getting a lot of attention online, I thought it would be appropriate to share my April 1st 2011 hoax.

My story was that the solar system was about to pass through a dense part of the interstellar medium.

Solar Binocular Scan August 30th

The Sun was quiet when I checked it with my binoculars (filtered, of course!) before starting work. I could make out a sunspot pair, although a couple of smaller sunspots were also visible on the Big Bear Images.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Solar hydrogen alpha shoot Aug 28th

I woke up to bright sunshine, so popped out at 0715GMT to shoot the Sun with my PST before starting work. There was a nice group of prominences at the top (south) and plenty of filaments on show. The photos also revealed some smaller prominences and more filaments than I saw. The Sun was coming alive again!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Moon March 27th 2010 reprocessed

The original photographs were taken with a Startravel 80 and compact digital camera. Although I could only find 2 useful images to stack, I managed to get quite a bit of detail.

Scorpius and Ophiuchus March 17th 2010 reprocessed

I stacked 9 images of Scorpius and 4 of Ophiuchus and managed some much cleaner results than the originals. As there was a terrestrial background, I used Microsoft ICE for the stacking.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Solar white light webcam session 1320 GMT

This was the second attempt I made at this. I had left the Maksutov on the same focus that I’d used on the Moon a few days ago. Although I obviously need a lot more practice, I was able to capture a sunspot, with a small companion and another shot showing limb darkening.

Solar hydrogen alpha shoot 1205 GMT

I checked the Sun with my Coronado PST. It was relatively quiet, with most of the activity confined to the top of the disc (actually the bottom as the PST inverts the image). I took 4 full disc frames and 2 close-up frames before cloud moved in, yet again!

Unfortunately, the capture wasn’t good, so I ended up with a prominence shot of the full disc and a partial disc shot of the surface detail.

Solar Binocular Scan

As my Mak was set to focus with the SPC880, I checked out the full solar disc with my binoculars. Although sunspot activity was low, I was able to see some faint ones.

For those who are new to following me, I use FULL APERTURE filters for solar observation and photography.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Early morning binocular scan August 26th

I was out at 0040 GMT after a cloudy day. The sky was clear apart from a hazy patch near the western horizon. My plan was to take multiple pictures of Perseus, with the idea of stacking them, while checking out the sky with the binoculars.

I started off with Melotte 20 and noticed even more stars than usual. The Pleiades showed quite a few stars as well, as did the Hyades. I could also see the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in all its glory, even picking up a hint of dust lanes. By contrast, the Pinwheel (M33) didn’t show much, with just a few hazy patches giving a hint of the spiral arms. M34 was about as clear as it gets.

Unfortunately, the session was curtailed early, as cloud moved in.

As for Perseus, I captured 9 frames. I stacked them using Registax 5 and aligned on Alpha Persei and a couple of surrounding stars. I found that the stars of Cassiopeia were trailing due to the Earth’s rotation, so I had to crop them out. Maybe I will need to think of aligning my shots properly using an equatorial mount but, amazingly, I am still finding that this digital camera photography has a lot more to discover about it.

Virgo and Libra from Naperville March 16th 2010 reprocessed

The next evening I photographed Virgo and Libra, with Libra quite low down. The Virgo shot consists of 3 frames stacked with Registax 5 and the Libra shot consists of 5 frames stacked with Microsoft ICE. The Arithmetic functions of Paintshop Pro and Curves function of GIMP were used to achieve the final images.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Constellation Shots from Naperville March 15th 2010

I often travel on business and sometimes I am able to visit places that give me a better view of southern constellations than I get in the UK.

I reprocessed some images and found that where I have multiple images without a terrestrial background, such as buildings or trees, that using Registax 5 with a large align box works, where Microsoft ICE doesn't.

However, neither program was able to create a mosaic of the whole area.

GIMP was also much better at getting rid of noise and light pollution than Paintshop Pro was on the original shots. I removed this haze from the top up and cleared more as I reached the bottom.

Constellations shown are: Canis Major, Lepus, Orion with Canis Minor and Orion with Taurus.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Perseus and Auriga from March 4th 2010 reprocessed

This photograph was composed of 5 frames stacked using Microsoft ICE. The colours were split using Paintshop Pro and the Green channel added to itself 8 times. Finally, the Curves function of GIMP was used to remove the noise.

Orion from March 4th 2010 reprocessed

This photograph was composed of 8 frames stacked using Microsoft ICE. The colours were split using Paintshop Pro and the Green channel added to itself 4 times. Finally, the Curves function of GIMP was used to remove the noise.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reprocessed solar image from March 2nd 2010

I re-applied my modern processing techniques to an old photo.

Hydrogen alpha shoot August 22nd

It finally cleared enough by 1210 GMT to check the Sun with my PST. The disc was rather bland, with only some faint spots and 2 filaments (one large) to report.

Only the close-up came out: click to view

February 26th 2010 lunar photographs reprocessed

I reprocessed the full disc shot from February 26th 2010. I also stitched together a panorama of 8 close-ups, which covered most of the lunar disc.

Binocular scan August 22nd

I checked the Sun with the binoculars at 1110 GMT. There was quite a lot of fast moving cloud and, although the sky was clearer than the day before, I still didn't see any sunspots. Some faint ones were visible on the Big Bear images.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Solar Observation August 20th

A solar binocular scan at 1410 GMT did not detect any sunspots.

August 19th Solar Observations

At 1215 GMT I bin scanned the Sun through moving cloud but was unable to see any sunspots.
I checked the Sun with the PST at 1800 GMT. It was rather quiet and the stand-out features were 3 small prominences and a filament. Unfortunately, none of the shots came out.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bonocular August 19th 2012

I went out for a look at 0020 GMT and conditions had deteriorated, especially near the horizon. With a low laptop battery, I decided to do a binocular scan. I saw Jupiter low in the east but could only see one moon. Aldebaran was barely visible to the unaided eye but the Hyades actually showed quite well. The Pleiades (M45) showed the main asterism. Melotte 20 showed well and I could just make out M34. To the west, the Wild Duck cluster (M11) was lost in the murk but M13 was just visible. I could also see M15.

I could also see M29 and M39 in Cygnus, objects that I sometimes lose on very clear nights when they are difficult to see against the Milky Way background.

I did my usual tour of the summer double stars and ended up with the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and I could just see some of the Pinwheel (M33).

Double Star Shoot August 19th

I was unable to image either Epsilon or Delta Lyrae the day before but I went out at 2300 GMT and snapped them both. Epsilon was rather difficult, as it nearly filled the field of view of the SPC880 webcam.

Solar Observations August 18th 2012

I bin scanned the Sun at 1645 GMT but didn’t see any sunspots. I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light an hour later. There were some small prominences and some filaments and plages on the disc.

Reworked solar hydrogen alpha image February 14th 2010

I reprocessed a shot I'd taken with my Coronado PST on February 14th 2010. I managed to bring out much more detail than in the original shot.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gamma Andromedae

At 2350 GMT it cleared again for a while, so I applied the same set-up for Gamma Andromedae.

Albireo August 18th 2012

There were some fleeting breaks in the cloud and during one of these at 23:10 GMT I managed to get a shot of Albireo. I took some back-up frames with the compact digital camera but didn’t need them, as the SPC880 did it’s job well.

Sunspot Drawing August 17th

Poor conditions mid-afternoon with lots of moving cloud but I still managed to see large sunspot.

Click here to view

Orion February 10th 2010 reworked

This reworked image was constructed using 3 frames of Orion taken with a compact digital camera with 8 seconds exposure.

I then added the stacked image to itself  4 times and used the GIMP Curves function to remove the noise.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Orion Great Nebula from February 10th 2010 reworked

The original shot was of 8 seconds exposure using a compact digital camera help to an F/5 80mm refractor. I processed the nebula separately from the background stars to enhance the nebula and remove the noise from the stellar background.

Solar hydrogen alpha shot from February 10th 2010

The Sun was quiet on February 10th 2010 but I managed to reprocess the image to reveal a large filament and plage on the bottom right of the disc.

Southern constellation shot revisited

On my tour of older photographs, I found 2 snaps south of Orion taken with my compact digital camera and 8 seconds exposure each.

I combined them using Microsoft ICE, used Paintshop Pro to increase the brightness by using the Arithmetic feature.

I finished it using the Curves feature of GIMP.

The end result shows Canis Major and Canis Minor together with the southern part of Orion and Lepus just below it.

August 16th solar binocular scan

As it was quite cloudy and the cloud was moving a lot, I settled for a binocular scan of the Sun. As the last observation, there was a single large sunspot visible, which had rotated nearer to the limb. Even the Big Bear images were rather quiet.

Click here to view the drawing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

#Meteorwatch August 15th 2012

The sky finally cleared at about 2110 GMT. I set up my laptop to use WXastrocapture to take 1 second exposures using the built-in webcam of my laptop. As luck would have it, the capture program failed! I returned indoors and set up my digital camera, after a reboot failed to cure the problem.

From 2120 GMT I continued to monitor the east and north east of the sky, while taking multiple shots of the constellations in the area, just hoping that one shot might capture a Perseid. I saw 3 faint ones in the hour but near the end of the session I saw a magnitude 0 one start from the Square of Pegasus and finish at the radiant, A “reverse Perseid” and I wondered how unlikely that was!

The featured shot is of Pegasus. For Cassiopeia, Perseus and Andromeda, please check out my Photobucket album.