Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 2014

February 28th 2130 GMT

After a wet day, I went out to do some constellation shots at the usual ISO 800 and 30 second exposure. I started off with Perseus and Cassiopeia but I only made 4 frames, as the rest were out of focus.

This was followed by 9 frames of Gemini, Auriga and Canis Minor.

I stacked five of six shots of Jupiter which revealed 3 moons.

I had a lot of problems with focus and stability with the Pleiades (M45) but was able to get some nice results with just 7 frames.

 Finally, I was really pleased with my Melotte 20, one of my favourite objects but overlooked by most.


February 27th 2200 GMT

It cleared somewhat later, so I went out with my Startravel 80 and DSLR. I hit the first snag when I found that, with the T-mount and T-ring there was not enough focus travel to get a clear focus on the Pleiades. To make matters worse, the out of focus Pleaides were not visible! That will teach me to get focus during the day. I did manage to focus on Jupiter and took two shots at ISO 3200 and 3,2 seconds' exposure. Of course, Jupiter was way over-exposed, so I had to lose most of the background stars before I could get any moons.

I took 32 frames of the Pleiades (M45) and the initial views on the camera looked quite exciting. However, my mood dropped when I found that only half of the frames were suitable for stacking. It became worse when I found that the stacked result showed "ghost stars" next to each of the main "sisters". I managed to rescue the effort by processing but, unfortunately, lost some of the fainter stars of the cluster but at least had something to show for my efforts.


February 27th  2015 GMT

I had tried the idea before but when I am washing up and the sky is clear, I sometimes do some constellation shots. My idea was to capture a few frames of Taurus. Well, I managed 8 before cloud moved in, so I had a go at the western great bear (Ursa Major) but then cloud moved in there as well. I stacked both sets using Deep Sky Stacker and finished up with GIMP.

February 27th 1300 GMT

Again, I was hoping for something better than a solar binocular scan but there was lots of cloud and often rain. The circlet of sunspots had either dispersed or was too close to the limb to be visible in my binoculars. However, the sunspots still made an interesting display.


February 26th 2200 GMT

I had been checking the skies from time to time in the evening but it never got particularly clear. I finally saw Jupiter with Castor and Pollux. I fetched the Mak and at low power was pleased to see two equatorial cloud bands and a hint of shading near the poles. The bad news was that conditions deteriorated rapidly and I was unable to obtain any detail on the surface.

February 26th 1230 GMT

I wanted to do a white light solar shoot but moving cloud dissuaded me, so I settled for a binocular scan. No only had the sunspot pattern looked even more spectacular than the day before but I could even see faculae.    

February 25th 2200 GMT

I took 10 frames of Leo before I went to bed. On inspecting them the next day, I stacked them in Deep Sky Stacker and was pleased to also capture the Beehive (M44) and Melotte 20. Algeiba also showed double in the photo. I also captured Leo Minor and some of Ursa Major’s claws. Processing was somewhat tricky using GIMP on the stacked result.

February 25th 1010 GMT

The early morning weather was awful but it cleared by mid-morning and I was able to see the Sun. I was amazed to see that the sunspot pattern had changed so much in less than a day. Some of it was rotational effects but the circlet of sunspots I saw was truly remarkable.


February 24th 1350 GMT

While waiting for a computer reboot, I checked the Sun with binoculars. There was a lot of cloud, so I’m not sure I managed to get the sunspot pattern accurately but I was, nevertheless, able to record 5 separate sunspots.

February 21st 1005 GMT

For a change, I had some clear weather. The really active region had rotated from binocular resolution but one of the newer sunspots split into two and the pattern changed again.


February 21st 0710 GMT

A bin scan of Venus before work suggested a phase of about 25-30%

February 20th 2040 GMT

It was clear but I was busy, so just 9 more Orion frames. I didn't bother with Microsoft ICE but went straight to Deep Sky Stacker.

February 20th 1105 GMT

 While the class were on lunch break, I had a rare clear(ish) spell. I checked the Sun through my binoculars and filters and notice that the sunspots had rotated. To make it interesting, some had rotated faster than others.

February 18th 2100 GMT

I took a few frames of Orion and the surrounding area with the DSLR at 18mm. ISO was 800 and exposure was 30 seconds.

I was able to use 9 images and I tried both Deep Sky Stacker and  Microsoft ICE to obtain these final pictures.

Finally I combined these 9 images with 12 I had taken previously to obtain this result:

February 18th 1830 GMT

It was twilight but I’d seen the ISS pass alerts, so I was ready with my DSLR on a tripod, or so I thought! The ISS came from north west, so I had to make a small adjustment. I used ISO 800 and 30 seconds exposure. The ISS passed nearly overhead but I caught it better as it came down through Gemini. I also saw another satellite following it, which I thought could be a Progress craft. I considered that I should have used a bulb exposure and kept it going while the ISS was in the field of view. I was amazed at the number of background stars I caught in twilight but had a start reminder that my DSLR lens needed cleaning, even though I'd cleaned the CCD.

February 18th 1630 GMT

I checked out the Sun with my PST and saw a large filament and some plages. Unfortunately, the Sun was low down and every vantage point had tree branches in the way, so I didn’t get a photo.

February 18th 1255 GMT

There had been some intermittent cloud patches during the day but I was teaching during most of them until I finally managed to sneak outside for a couple of minutes to do a solar binocular scan. The active group I’d seen two days before was close to rotating off but a new group of four sunspots had emerged from the far side of the Sun.

February 18th

To add for the article I reprocessed photos of Venus and Alpha Crucis (Acrux) from Auckland, New Zealand.


February 18th

While writing an article in my series on the Southern Hemisphere for Astronomy Wise, I reprocessed a photo of the Jewel Box from a trip to Brazil in July 2006.

February 16th 1030 GMT

I did some afocal shots with my PST and DSLR. There was lot of activity around the sunspots and one prominence that seemed to be associated with it but the rest of the Sun was quiet.

February 16th 1020 GMT

I did a quick bin scan of the Sun and saw that the sunspot pattern had changed quite considerably since my last viewing.

February 15th 2100 GMT

The conditions were hazy but I managed to see the Moon. I took several full disc shots with 1/200 second exposure at ISO 400, then some close-ups with a 2x Barlow lens and 1.6x Magni Max.

I also tried to photograph Jupiter but initial indications were discouraging.

For the full disc shot (which I consider the best) I stacked 59 frames

I used the best 3 frames for the first close-up.

The second  close-up was from 16 frames and features Tycho.

The third close-up was from 10 frames.

 The final close-up was from 4 frames. I took many more but they were of poor quality.

I managed to catch Jupiter's cloud bands (just!).

Feb 15th 1010 GMT

I saw some sunlight when I woke up, so my imaging equipment was brought into action immediately. Unfortunately, by the time I set up there was lots of cloud and even a light shower. To be honest, I can’t remember every ISO/exposure setting I used but I did get some images.

It was a single frame from a short exposure that revealed the sunspots.

I had my first go with the PST but couldn’t find focus and another bank of cloud and rain rolled in.

February 14th

I reprocessed a Scorpius photo from September in Aruba.

February 13th 1830 GMT

I took 111 frames of the Moon at 1/200 and 1/250 second at ISO 4000 and the Mak. I stacked them using Microsoft ICE and finished with GIMP.

February 10th 1820 GMT

It was clear at dusk, so I took 49 frames of the full lunar disc with my Skymax 127 and DSLR at ISO 400 and 1/200 second exposure.

I took some more frames with just the camera at 70mm. At ISO 400, I took some 0.5 second and 15 second exposures of the Moon with Jupiter. The latter one appears to show a moon close to the planet. Both photos were processed from a single frame.


February 10th 1405 GMT

After a cloudy day, it cleared enough to see some sunspots. Some had rotated off or faded beyond binocular resolution.

February 9th 1740 GMT

It was clear at dusk and I found my lens cleaning was worthwhile. I took 3 frames of the Moon at ISO 800 and exposure time of 1/4000 second and it was way underexposed. 94 frames at ISO 3200 and exposure time of 1/1600 second was rather different and it worked well with my 127mm Mak. I stacked the images using Microsoft ICE and finished off with GIMP.


February 9th 1130 GMT

The dreadful weather pattern continued but there was a break in the showers late morning. The sunspots had rotated and I was surprised to see that the two large sunspots were still visible, although very edge-on as a single sunspot.


February 8th 1100 GMT

Despite the weather forecast, it was not raining and my first instinct was that I would be able to have another go at photographing the Sun. However, closer examination showed a lot of moving cloud, so the best I could do was draw the sunspot positions from binocular observations. Indeed, moving cloud of all thicknesses meant that it took several views before I could position the sunspots accurately (well sort of!). The two large sunspots were near the limb and appeared as one.


February 7th 1015 GMT

For a change, the sky was clear, so it was time to try out the DSLR, telescope and T-mount. I took (nearly) full disc shots at ISO 800 and exposures of 1/4000 second. I was able to capture the sunspots well enough but I also caught a lot of muck on the star diagonal. I came to the conclusion that, for full disc shots, straight-through imaging was better. I stacked 59 images and attempted to edit out the marks caused by dust. The result was rather inelegant but at least showed the sunspots quite accurately.


February 5th 2015 GMT

Conditions were far from perfect but a crescent Moon was appearing at times through gaps in the cloud. Although I took over 40 frames at ISO 3200 and 1/1000 second exposure though my Skymax 127, I only used 18 of them. However, the final result was quite good.


February 4th 0925 GMT

After a rain shower I bin scanned the Sun. The sunspots had rotated and the pattern had changed shape a lot in the 2 days that I’d seen the Sun.


February 2nd 1720 GMT

I had my first go at shooting the Moon with my Skymax 127 and compact digital camera. I took 89 frames at ISO 800 and 1/1000 second exposure. I should have gone for a longer exposure, given the narrow crescent phase.

February 2nd 0945 GMT

The Sun appeared bright when I got up and I was thinking about doing some prime focus photography. On closer inspection, there was lots of thin cloud, so I decided to settle for a binocular scan instead. The results were quite amazing, with a change of sunspot pattern and two new sunspots appearing.

February 1st 1030 GMT

I returned out with my PST. The Sun was ablaze with activity around the active region but was quiet elsewhere apart from a few prominences. My lens cleaning had not been a total success, though with the close-up shots. The prominences didn't show in the photos (I cannot wait until I can get a proper T-adaptor) but I caught some surface detail. Note that, for some reason, the display of these photos is not that accurate and it is better to check my Photobucket album:

February 1st 0940 GMT

A solar bin scan revealed a wealth of detail around a very active region.

No comments:

Post a Comment