Mauna Road

Two missions up into the saddle this week to go comet watching. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE is rising in the northeast, blocked from view at home by the mauna, need to drive up to where I can see it.

With the comet as an excuse to get out well before dawn I may as well add a few secondary missions to the plan…

Make sure the drone batteries are charged for a few flights to photograph the saddle scenery at sunrise. The lava fields are spectacular at sunrise, one of my favorite places on the island.

The next mission is to photograph pueo along old Saddle Road. I tried two times, both times not a single bird to be seen. Where are the owls?

In any case a couple memorable trips into the dawn.

Looking down the Mauna Loa access road towards Mauna Kea
Looking down the Mauna Loa access road towards Mauna Kea

Fixing a Hole Where the Rain Comes In

A leak in my wife’s sewing room? She is not happy with water dripping on her sewing machine.

Removing shingles and fixing  a leak under the solar hot water panels
Removing shingles and fixing a leak under the solar hot water panels

The leak is right under the solar hot water panels. Hmmm, is one of the mounting points leaking? This might be a PITA to fix.

Getting up on the roof and inspecting reveals this is not likely the case, there is another likely cause… ants. Just under the panel I find that a few shingles are in bad shape, and there are Hawaiian carpenter ants scurrying about when I break away a bit of the failed shingle.

It appears that the cooler environment under the solar panels was to the ants liking and they moved in. A downside to solar panels I had not considered.

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A Bright Comet in the Dawn

We have a bright comet in the dawn sky for a few days. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE has brightened rapidly over the past few weeks, now about 1st magnitude it can just be seen against the glow of dawn.

Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE against the dawn
Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE against the dawn

I took along Hodepodge to serve as a tracking mount for the TV-76mm scope and a couple cameras to do some comet shooting. The Canon 6D would go with the small ‘scope, the EOS-M5 with a tripod for wide angle shots.

Driving up Waikoloa road I was troubled by a bank of clouds in the Waimea saddle, thus I elected to head for the Humuʻula saddle instead. I ended up in the lava fields along the Mauna Loa access road. The view was perfect, and I had just enough time to get the mount and camera setup as the comet rose.

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Mango Season

Mango season is here! We have been eating ripe mangoes for a few weeks now. Mango on ceral, mango smoothies, and a whole dryer load packed up and sent to my mango loving mother in Oregon.

For some reason the fruit on our big tree seems to have come from two different sets, with the first fruit ripening almost a month ago and the majority of the fruit just coming on now after a lull.

Not a huge crop this year, but plenty for our needs. We will be eating mango for a while longer.

A breakfast of granola topped with plenty of fresh mango
A breakfast of granola topped with plenty of fresh mango

The Veil in Hydrogen Alpha

To allow a wider field of view requires changing optics. In this case putting away the TV-76mm telescope and mounting a vintage Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED camera lens.

The Nikkor 180mm is a classic lens, once a favorite of professional film photographers for news and portrait work. Now the lens is out of date, not autofocus, or image stabilized, a bit of very good optics left behind by technology.

Of course, autofocus or image stabilization are useless for astrophotography. With a simple adapter the lens can be mounted to a modern system and used as a fully manual lens in an application where the excellent optical quality can still be appreciated.

The Veil Nebula in hydrogen alpha
The Veil Nebula in hydrogen alpha

The Hercules Cluster

The Hercules Cluster is one of the best known, and as you would expect, one of the most beautiful clusters to be seen in a small telescope. Also known as M13 this is a rich globular cluster with several hundred thousand stars it lies about 25,000 light years away in the constellation Hercules.

The cluster is always worth stopping by, whatever size telescope you are using. If I am using a larger ‘scope I might try to locate the small galaxy NGC6207 located about ½° to the northeast (upper left). If I am using an even larger ‘scope like my 18″ I can also try for the challenging IC4617 that lies halfway between NGC6207 and the cluster.

The image here is a luminance image only, taken through a filter that blocks IR and allows the remainder of the visible spectrum through to the detector. To get allow capture of the fainter stars while not overexposing the core a range of exposures from 10 seconds to five minutes were combined to create the image seen here…

M13, The Hercules cluster
M13, The Hercules cluster