Monday, January 19, 2009

A Busy Weekend!

We had a busy weekend - hardly time to sit down, it seems! It started Friday night when Melinda, our matchmaker friend Jane and I headed out of town for a few hours to get under a dark sky for some observing. We had both Melinda's go-to Celestron 5" and Jane's 6" Dob-Newt that I made for her and her son about 10 years ago. I took a few pictures that mostly ran unattended while tooling around the sky - just used an old (old meaning about 2 decades old) Byers Cam-Trak mount with camera and telephoto lenses - nice and easy to setup and use. We got back early by my book - dropped Jane off at home by about 10:30. The picture here is from 2 nights of exposure - 2 hours total, a record for me. It is of dust clouds in Taurus, just east of the Pleiades star cluster. Taken with a 135mm telephoto lens and 20 6 minute exposures with the 20Da. I really like seeing the combination of dark clouds that are in places faintly illuminated.

On Saturday, we hit an early matinee of "Slumdog Millionaire" again with Jane and movie buddy Kris. It was very good and entirely suitably deserving of the Golden Globe award for Best Picture. After that, as Melinda prepared for getting in a nap before starting her graveyard shift workweek, I collected astro gear and went out observing near Kitt Peak with friends Mike Terenzoni and Laurie Larson. It was the first time I've had out my Celestron 14" and Hyperstar (with Canon 20Da camera) since last May! That kept me busy - Laurie had her Canon XSi and was shooting off a tripod and also took some pics with my Byers mount. Mike brought his 10" Dobsonian and shared some great views of the sky. We packed up about Midnight and were back home by about 1:30. This photo is with Laurie's camera w/a fisheye lens showing most of the sky from our site there.

I was able to sleep in a little Sunday, joined my Melinda when she got home at 8am. I spent the better part of the day working with a new software package (Nebulosity 2.0) in properly processing the astro images. The original one I had must have had some bugs in it as it bombed when doing some operations, and this one, while getting past that, is still giving me some fits getting uniform results. I think this stuff is still more art than science! This is a quickie shot of the leftmost belt star of Orion and associated nebulosity, including the Horsehead Nebula below it. I didn't spend a lot of time on it because for this object, I forgot to turn on the RAW frames, so only have jpegs to average and stack.

I've a lot more to work through and will get to them eventually. Interestingly, the surprise of the night was Comet 144P Kushida - expected to be a faint 10th magnitude, it was readily visible in hand-held binoculars, so likely brighter than 8th. It looked very nice in Mike's scope and I've got pics, but need to learn the software better. Keep checking back!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an honor to be able to take photos with you again!! ~Laurie... Very nice Horsehead Nebula photo of yours!