Postcard from the Universe – Omega Centauri

I love it when everything actually works. As I have often stated… Astrophotography is an art of details. After dealing with each detail, one by one, sometimes it works…

Omega Centauri
Omega Centauri, NGC5139, sum of 31 x 1min exposures, AT6RC and Canon 60D

Postcard from the Universe – Sol

Set up the gear again to get ready for Venus Transit. Attempting to autoguide on the Sun. No luck with the guiding, the software just does not like a non-pinpoint target. I did take a few photos in the process of messing about…

The Sun 19May2012
The Sun on 19 May 2012, 90mm APO and Canon 60Da

Postcard from the Universe – An Active Sun

After years of a nearly blank solar disk, we have a beautifully active Sun. Any time you have a chance to see the Sun through a telescope this year, do so. The view is replete with sunspots, or if you have a Hα filter, prominences and more…

The Sun
A white light view of the Sun on 13May2012

Postcard from the Universe – Telescopes

Two telescopes set up on the side of Mauna Kea. Olivier’s 12″ and my 18″ Deep Violet. A full night of deep sky observing under very nice conditions.

The photo was taken with a red LED light swept over the area during the 20 seconds of exposure. The camera had other ideas, set for automatic white balance it attempted to correct the color, fairly successfully. Surprising given the monochromatic nature of the light source.

As usual, click on the image for a larger version…

Mauna Kea Observing
Two telescopes set up under dark Mauna Kea skies

Martian Devil

A desolate rocky plain, red, cold, dry, a scene from an alien world. In the distance there is movement, a swirling dust devil slowly works its way across the plain.

To truly appreciate such an image takes you to another world, so similar, yet so different from our own. The world is Mars, the scene is real, captured by the HiRISE camera orbiting aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I never get tired of these sort of pictures…

Martian Devil
A dust devil crossing the rocky Amazonis Planitia of Mars, image credit NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Postcard from the Universe – The Moon and Mercury

A very thin Moon could be seen last night. Only 1.1 days old the Moon was only 1.6% illuminated, a thin crescent indeed. A few degrees away was Mercury. I did get a couple photos with a telephoto lens before the clouds moved in and obscured the view…

Moon and Mercury
A very thin, 1.1 day old Moon and the planet Mercury low in the sunset

Postcard from the Universe – Moon and Venus

Last night the Moon and Venus were a mere 2.5° apart. I tried to look for the pair after sunset, but all I was able to see was a dim glow in the clouds. My friend Maureen was luckier, she was able to catch the pair through a gap in the clouds while the same clouds were lit up by the sunset. I am just a little jealous…

Luna & Venus
A thin crescent Moon and Venus in the sunset, photo by Maureen Salmi, used with permission

Postcard from the Universe – Hyperion

One of my favorite moons in the solar system has to be Hyperion. This small icy body is one of those truly weird places.

An oblong shape roughly 360 x 200km (220 x 120miles) the moon is composed of primarily water ice with a small amount of rock in the mix. The moon is thought to be highly porous, a loosely held together rubble pile perhaps. This is indicated by the odd appearance of the many impact craters, looking as if the impacting body is absorbed as much as vaporized. The material of the crater walls then slumping back into the void.

The Saturnian moon Hyperion, image acquired by the Cassini Spacecraft 16Sep2011, credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Postcard from the Universe – Pleiades

Yes, I have shot the Pleiades many times before. Still, a nice test of the new camera. I was limited to short exposures, 2 minutes in this case, as I was not setup for guiding. I took more frames instead, over thirty exposures of two minutes each for an hour total. After throwing a few out I still had enough to beat down the noise. I expect that with guiding and longer exposures the result would be better, but this wasn’t too bad…

The Pleiades, M45, sum of 27x120s exposures, TV-76mm and Canon 60D

Postcard from the Universe – The Tarantula from Hawaiʻi

OK… It is a crappy astrophoto.

But it does prove one thing, you can see the Large Magellanic Cloud from Mauna Kea… Barely.

The photo was taken from the Mauna Kea VIS parking lot as the LMC rose above the slopes of Mauna Loa. As the object skirted the distant ridge line I shot a dozen frames with the 60D and the TV-76mm scope. The resulting photo is nothing to be proud of, I expected it to be pretty bad when I shot it. It was taken simply to prove the point.

Tarantula NGC2070

The Tarantula Nebula, NGC2070, rising above the slopes of Mauna Loa