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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CHRISTMAS NIGHT OBSERVING 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date:  December 25, 2014

Weather:  Stormed all day, rain, high winds temps up to 15 C.  By 1700hrs rain stopped, then shortly after the clouds started to break up.  A few minutes later, clouds cleared off completely!  From 1730-2000hrs, temps went from 8C to 2C, but high winds remained throughout.  At 2015hrs clouds returned.

Equipment:  Big main telescope, DSLR camera with 18-55mm lens and cellphone camera with Ioptron adapter.

Attendance:  Madison, McKenzie, Andrew and Myself.

Objective:  To view and image the Crescent Moon, and to explore the Constellation Agrila, the Charioteer along with its Kids and Messier Objects, M36, M37 and M38.

Report:  At 1715 hrs, just after Christmas Supper, McKenzie looked out the window and exclaimed, "Look, the Moon!".  This came as a surprise, because the weather forecast was not calling for clear skies...At this point it was decided to set the scope up and do some Christmas Evening observing.

At 1730, a thin Crescent Moon was part way up in the sky in the Constellation Aquarius, with Mars below it in Capricornus.

Set scope up on the the front deck and aligned it on Aldebaran, which was in the east and half way up in the sky at Sundown.  Located the Moon, then viewed it with 32mm and19mm eyepieces, then imaged with cellphone camera attached to eyepiece slot of telescope.  Used DSLR camera attached piggyback to telescope with 18-55mm lens to image the Moon-Mars-Sadalsuud.  Wind and the shaky deck were major factors when trying to image the Moon.

Sadalsuud, which was next to the Moon,  is Arabic for 'Luckiest of the Lucky'.  This is a star in Aquarius.  There are many stars in the sky that are named in Arabic.

Set the Cellphone, in its adapter, into the eyepiece, then turned on camera function.  This showed the Moon on the view screen and allowed for the user to zoom in or out.  Everyone in attendance viewed the Moon this way.  Many videos were taken.

Andrew and I located Constellations Ursa Major (North, under Polaris), Cygnus the swan (North west), Orion (Low in South east), Agrila The Charioteer (East) above Gemini, and Cassiopeia high over head to the East.

Viewed M42 and M43 in telescope with 19mm eyepiece.  Some color could be seen in the nebula, and the trapezium stars were resolved, even though it was so low in the sky at the time, behind transmission lines.

Slewed scope to the North east, towards Agrila and took time 1 minute time elapse images of this Constellation, in order to locate M36, M37, and M38.  At this point(2000hrs), it was time to go inside to warm up, have some hot chocolate and view images.  After 15 minutes, came back out and the sky had clouded over and winds increased significantly.  Equipment had to be brought inside quickly, as rain looked imminent.

One satellite was observed at around 1900hrs moving south east, just over the Moon.  No shooting stars were observed.

video




Looking South-West


Looking East

Looking South-East

Sunday, November 23, 2014

OBSERVING REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 19, 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, New Brunswick, Canada

Date Time: November 19, 2014 1630-2120hrs

Weather:  Clear, windy at 1600hrs, wind slowly died down to nothing by 1900hrs.  -2 degrees Celsius, felt like -8 degrees Celsius according to weather station..  Upper atmosphere disturbed.

Attendance:  Maddison and McKenzie, Leah, Jessica, Rebecca, Carla and Myself.

Equipment:  Canon xsi dslr with 75-300mm and 18-55mm lenses piggybacked to 8" Meade LX 200 telescope with goto and tracking capabilities.  Eyepieces 32mm, 12.5mm and 4mm.  Ioptron cellphone adapter and nexus 4 cellphone camera and video.

Objective:  To attempt to image anything with new cellphone adapter.

Report:  Main highlight was a Bolide (fireball) that streaked straight down, due south of my position on the front porch at 2020hrs.  It was very bright and went very low behind the trees when it flashed and completely lit up the entire dark night for a second.  Could actually hear a quiet hissing, searing sound and could see a smoke trail for an instant, from the flash!

1830 hrs cellphone video of Mars was taking using new cellphone adapter.  It worked fine, but because Mars is so far away in its orbit right now, no detail could be found when the video was processed in stacked.  Earth will get closer to Mars next summer and we might get better detail then.

Showed Mars with 12.5mm eyepiece to Maddison and McKenzie, Leah, Jessica, Rebecca.  They all seemed impressed with everyone wondering if the planet was 'on fire'.  Carla viewed the cellphone video and seemed impressed.

Used piggybacked dslr camera to capture images of a closeup of M45,  Cassiopeia, Perseus Double Cluster, M31, Cygnus, The Summer Triangle, Delphinus, Taurus, and Orion.





This is 380 images stacked of Mars.



Monday, September 15, 2014

SMARTPHONE ASTRONOMY

There is a facebook page called Smartphone Astronomy, which is hosted by a gentleman from Great Britain, where I have been sharing some of my images of the Moon. The whole point of the facebook page is to give a place where individuals can share personally taken astronomy images. Images taken with their smartphones, specifically.
A couple of weeks ago, it was international "Observe the Moon Night", and I managed to get an image of the Moon, before the fog set in. Chris was here that night, as we set up our scopes on the deck and talked astronomy while showing off the Moon to whoever wanted to look.
Later that night I shared that image with the Smartphone astronomy facebook page. The gentleman who administers the site used my image, along with 15 other images from amateur astronomers from around the world to create the image below.
I am thrilled to be included in this image!





Sunday, September 14, 2014

NORTHERN LIGHTS OVER NEW BRUNSWICK

Location:  Little Lepreau, New Brunswick, Canada

Date Time:  September 12, 2014 2030-0200hrs

Weather:  12 degrees C @ 2030hrs, 7 degrees C @ 0200hrs and 3 degrees C at 0630hrs the next morning. Frost covered the windshield.  Garden had to be covered.  A few high wispy clouds and some light winds from about 2130 to just after midnight.  Lots of dew until the wind picked up.  Good viewing even though the moon was quite bright.

Attendance:  Ed O, Carla M, Leah C, Jeremy K, Jessica K, Becky L, Bradly H, and Myself

Equipment:  8" Meade LX200 Telescope, 30mm 2" eyepiece and OIII filter, Dew Heater and Dew Shield, 20x80 Binoculars, tripod, Canon Xsi DSLR camera with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses and Nexus 4 smartphone camera.

Objective:  To view and image the Northern Lights, Comet Jacques and the Moon.

Report:  My friend Ed O from the Saint John Astronomy Club attended this observing session.

We started off looking north for the Auroras from 2030 to 2130hrs.  A slight glow with the slightest hint of green, but could not confirm The Northern Lights naked eye at this time.  We used this time to align the scope on Deneb which was straight up to the East just after sundown.

Used GoTo to direct telescope to M27 which is close to Alberio.  Used keypad to manually direct telescope to Alberio.  Telescope easily spit this beautiful double star system with one star a light orange, the other an electric blue.  Had many views of Alberio on this evening, as this was the jump off point we used to search for Comet Jacques. The 20x80 binos also split Albireo and also showed their respective colors.

As I was taking an image of the sky above Alberio with the camera and 75-300mm lens piggybacked to the telescope, Ed exclaimed, "LOOK, THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!!"  There were a bunch of family and friends that happened to be out on the deck at this time.  We all quickly looked north and were amazed.  Everyone say the bright rays of green, red and purple shimmering and moving.  It was huge and was truly amazing!  The first that I have ever seen from New Brunswick, and the first that Ed observed here since 2003!

At this time, 2145hrs, the GoTo was used to direct telescope to M81 which was in the Northern sky.  Used direction pad to position scope, put 18-55mm lens on camera, then took four or five images of The Northern Lights.  Took a 30 second exposure, then 3-1 min 30 second exposures.  The Moon rose at around 2200hrs and quickly washed out the Northern Lights.  Not sure if it was a coincidence or if the Lights simply died down at the same time the Moon came up.

After this...together, Ed and I spent over two hours searching the sky around the bottom part of the Northern Cross, Cygnus for Comet Jacques, all the way to Sagitta.  We used the binoculars, telescope and even too time elapse images of the area where the Comet was reportedly suppose to be.  After all the searching we could not confirm a sighting of Comet Jacques.

Ed did find M27 The Dumbbell Nebula.  We both observed it a few times with the telescope, 30mm eyepiece and OIII filter.  It looked like a dark patch with shape.

Then directed telescope to the Waning Gibbous Moon.  Many creators were seen.  Took images with smartphone and then uploaded them to the Smartphone Astronomy facebook page.  Tried the OIII filter and it didn't help much, but it did cut down on the glare..

Many satellites were seen and several shooting stars were seen, with Ed and I both seeing one at the same time.




Red and Green show interaction between charged particals from the Sun and Oxygen in our atmosphere.  Purple and yellow intractions between Suns' charged particles and Nitrogen in our atms.  The charged particles come from a Coronal Mass Ejection from the Sun.



This was the image of the area where Comet Jacques was suppose to be.  It may be here in the image...


Friday, August 15, 2014

OBSERVING REPORT FOR AUGUST 12, 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, New Brunswick, Canada

Date Time:  August 12, 2014 2030-2330hrs

Weather:  Some high wispy clouds, kind of hazy skies 18 degrees Celsius @ 2030hrs.  Dark at 2115 hrs.  It was 12 degrees Celsius at 2330 hrs and there was lots of dew.

Equipment:  Meade LX 200 8" telescope, 19mm and 6mm eyepieces, CT 3000 Planetary Imager, Canon 450D DSLR camera with 18-55mm lens.  

Attendance:  Maddison, McKenzie, Jessica and Myself.

Objective:  To view, image and show to others the ISS fly over which was scheduled for 2126hrs and 2300hrs according to heavens-above.com.  Also to view and image the Moon.

Report:  Set up early for the 2126hrs ISS fly-over.  At 2127 ISS was spotted low just over the house going through the Big Dipper.  It was going from the NW to NE and did not come high enough to image with camera attached to telescope.  Called Maddison and Kenzie out to view the fly-over and they both seen it and were amazed.  They both thought I was showing them aliens.

Aligned telescope on Arcturus, then turned scope towards Saturn, which was close to Mars in the SW using the Goto function.  It was close, but scope still need some manual adjustment to center in eyepiece.  

Started viewing Saturn with 19mm eyepiece.  Showed this to Maddison, Kenzie and Jessica.  All were amazed.  Kenzie said Saturn looked like a 'bright light with a beam'.  We could clearly see two of Saturn's moons.  Jessica asked if I could make it bigger, so the 6mm eyepiece was put in.  This greatly enlarged Saturn and much detail could be seen.  Separation could clearly be seen between the planet and its rings.

After this, scope was slewed to M51, near the Big Dipper, using the GoTo function on telescope.  Wanted an image of the ISS fly-over which was scheduled for 2300hrs, so the scope needed to be in the NW general direction.  This is where the space station was first going to appear.

Sure enough, a very bright moving star came into view some time after 2300hrs, moving just above the Big Dipper going East.  It was just within view of camera which was attached to telescope to take advantage of its tracking capabilities.  Two 45 second elapse time images were taken at ISO 1600.

After this, the Moon was just starting up in the East...it could be seen, reddish through some trees.  The effect on the rest of the sky was not good.  It was definitely dimming everything else with its brightness.

At this point, there were other things, not astronomy related that called me away.  When returned, the Moon was up over the trees in the East and was so bright, that it washed out most of the deep sky objects that are in Sagittarius and just coming into view from behind some trees.  Was going to do a search for these M objects but decided against it with the bright Moon as it was.

Decided to image the Moon with Planetary Imager attached to telescope eyepiece at prime focus.  Many nice images were taken, but there was clearly a disturbed atmosphere when viewing.  The imaged swayed sometimes like when you are underwater.

Many satellites were seen and no shooting stars.  The Perseid Meteor Shower was suppose to peak on this night, but never seen one.














Thursday, July 24, 2014

OBSERVING REPORT FOR JULY 21, 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 21, 2014 2200-0130hrs

Weather:  12 degrees Celsius, clear, no wind, some dew.  Excellent viewing conditions, but lots of bugs.  Could see M31 naked eye with averted vision.

Equipment:  8" LX200 Meade telescope, 19mm, 9mm and 4mm eyepieces.  CT3000 Planetary Imager, Canon 450D with 18-55mm lens.

Attendance:  Carla M, Andrea M, Becky M, and Myself.

Objective:  To view, image and show Mars and Saturn to our guests.  Saturn was in Libra.  Mars was in Virgo.

Report:  Aligned the scope on Spica, which was just below Mars.  Used Goto to direct telescope and it worked, even though Mars and Saturn could be easily located with the naked eye.  The goto was a little off, but it did get close to M8, M71 and M31.  Tracking worked very well.

The massive star Acturus was directly west during this observing session, above Mars.  It actually shows up in one of the images that shows Saturn and Mars together, looking west.  Here is an image of Acturus that shows how big it is compared with other stars, including our Sun.  This image was found on the universitytoday.com website.

Started with Mars, which was low and almost due west by 2200hrs.  With the 4mm eyepiece, Mars showed as a large red disk with lighter and darker shades of red shimmering across the disk.  Took many images with planetary imager, as per conversation with Paul O and Mike P at the COW Star Party.  Employed their advice in producing and processing images.  The result was my best image yet of Mars.  Didn't have much luck in the processing part though.  Stacking helped but the wavelet option didn't do much.
Saturn was in Libra which was in the south west at observing time.  Used the Goto function of the telescope to center it.  Saturn was spectacular, it showed crisp detail on disk and rings which were at about a 20 degree angle to Earth.  One moon stood out clearly.  Becky, Andrea and Carla also viewed Saturn through the telescope and 9mm eyepiece and were amazed.  Becky and Andrea seen Saturn for the first time through a telescope.  Becky said she had no idea that you could see Saturn so big and clear in a telescope!  Took 347 images of Saturn with Planetary imager attached to telescope at prime focus.

After viewing Saturn, pointed out The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia to Becky and Andrea.  As we observed, many satellites flew by.  All heading either north to south or south to north.

After this, images of the sky around Sagittarius and Cassiopeia were taken both with the 450D and 18-55mm lens, and with the 450D attached to telescope at prime focus.  M8 The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius and M31 were taken with telescope.  By this time, 0100hrs dew was a major factor.  The camera and lens had to be brought inside to dry off several times.  The image of M31 did not turn out well due to trouble focusing.

Many satellites were seen and a few faint shooting stars.


An out of focus image of M31.




M8 The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius.  It was taken with Canon 450D attached to telescope at prime focus.

Mars, 140 images stacked.

Saturn, 347 images stacked.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

COW STAR PARTY 2014

Location:  Mactaquac Provincial Park, NB, Canada

Date Time:  July 18-20, 2014

Weather:  Mostly clear but very hazy.  Warm to very hot 30 plus degrees Celsius by day, 10-13 degrees Celsius by night.  Some dew.  Generally it was felt that the viewing conditions were terrible for the most part.

Equipment:  Approximately 30 telescopes including my 8" Meade LX 200.

Attendance:  Approximately 50 SJAC and RASC members.  Approximately 150 public attendees.

Objective:  To allow the general public to view celestial objects though our telescopes.  Also, share observing stories and experiences with fellow amateur astronomers.

Report:  On Friday night set up scope on manual to observe Saturn.  The hazy sky greatly affected image in 12 mm eyepiece.  Our camping neighbors came over to view Saturn and two of its moons in both the 32 mm and 12 mm eyepieces.  Everyone expressed amazement at Saturn's rings and were very interested to hear that Saturn has 62 moons that we know of.

On Saturday night watched a movie that was put on by Adrian B.  It is called Fundy Tides and was filmed by a French film crew.  Approximately 70 people attended. Mike P, Chris C, Don K and others were in the show which was filmed at Fundy Park summer 2013.

Around midnight started observing with Paul O, Ed O, Mike P, Chris C, Bob.  We observed many deep sky objects in various big scopes till the Moon came up around 0245hrs.  Viewed M92, the Dumbbell Nebula, NGC 2368 and the Moon.

Has a great conversation with Paul O and Mike P about astro-imaging.  They suggested that I use my planetary imager in video mode to get more frames to stack.  This leads to more clear images.

Ed O, Mike P and I searched for Comet Catalina, which was low in the west around 0200hrs.  Mike and I thought that we seen an object that wasn't a star, but it was very hard to confirm it was a comet.

Two shooting stars and one satellite were seen.

Here is a link for Images of COW Star Party which were taken by Chris L.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

OBSERVING REPORT FOR JULY 12, 2014

Location:  Little Lepreau, New Brunswick, Canada

Date Time:  July 12, 2014 2100-0100hrs

Weather:  15 degrees Celsius, partly cloudy, humid, lots of dew, slight to no breeze.

Equipment:  8" Meade LX200 SC telescope, Canon 450D DSLR camera, CT3000 Planetary Imager, 32 mm, 12.5mm and 9mm eyepieces.

Attendance:  Grace W. and Myself

Objective:  To view, image and show Grace the full Moon and Saturn.

Report:  Was set up almost an hour before sundown.  As the sun went down, a very reddish full Moon could be seen through the trees to the SW.  It took a long time before the Moon rose above the trees, by about 2220hrs it could be seen still slightly reddish and Saturn and Mars stood out well to the SW.  Mars was more to the west and went down about two hours before Saturn.  It was a great night to view Saturn.

Showed Grace the Full Moon, Mars and Saturn, in that order with the telescope at manual and a 32mm 2" eyepiece.  Grace was very impressed at Saturn especially...and was even more amazed when I stepped up the magnification.  The rings were very much opened up and visible with clear separation.

One of Saturn's moons, Titan was clearly visible to the lower left in the eyepiece.  It did not show up in the images however.

Mars just looked like a bright red star at low magnification, but with the 12.5mm eyepiece the disk became very much visible.  It seemed hazy with darker shades of red kind of shimmering.  It clearly looked like a planet though...the first time for me.

Many images of the Moon and Saturn were taken with the Canon 450D(with12.5mm eyepiece) and then with the Planetary Imager at prime focus.

No shooting stars and one satellite was seen.

This particular full Moon was the closest to the Earth for 2014, which made it the biggest full moon of the year.  It was so bright that the Big Dipper (in the NW) and Cassiopeia (in the NE) were very much dimmed and difficult to see.

Saturn imaged with Canon 450D and 12.5mm eyepiece

Saturn imaged with Canon 450D and 12.5mm eyepiece

Copernicus Crater imaged with Planetary Imager

Moon Imaged with Planetary Imager

Moon Imaged with Planetary Imager
Super Moon imaged with Canon 450D at Prime Focus

Super Moon imaged with Canon 450D at Prime Focus

Monday, June 30, 2014

MORE ON COMET PANSTARRS 2012 K1

After talking to fellow Saint John Astronomy Club member, Ed O about comet Panstarrs, it seems like some of my source info about the exact location of where the comet is in the sky was incorrect.  Ed reffered me to this star chart to show a very different location for the comet.  This explains why I was not able to locate it on the June 27 observing session.  Here is the updated, more accurate location...
View cometpanstarrsk1.jpg in slide show

Saturday, June 28, 2014

COMET PANSTARRS SEARCH

Location:  Little Lepreau, New Brunswick

Date Time:  June 27, 2014 2320hrs to 0015hrs

Weather:  Clear, 15 degrees Celsius, humid, no wind...lots of dew.

Equipment:  Canon 450 D, 18-55mm lens, tripod, 20x80 Binoculars

Attendance:  Myself

Objective:  To image and view Comet Panstarrs 2012 K1 which, according to Heavens-above.com was in Leo at this time.  This Comet has just entered Mars' orbit and is heading towards the Sun...it will pass behind the Sun on Aug 9, so anytime now is a good chance to view it.

Report:  First thing was to find the Comet...used camera with remote shutter control to take long exposure shots of the northwest sky in the general direction.  After two long exposure shots, Comet could not be located.  Scanned area with binos to no avail.

According to Curt of the SJAC the Comet is now at magnitude 7.3, but according to heavens-above, its magnitude 13...much fainter.  It could have been that the camera was not pointing in the right direction...the Comet may have gone down, out of sight.  It is suppose to be just above the tail of Leo in the direction of the Big Dipper.  The triangle of Leo could be seen, but the tail was down below the trees in the West, at observing time.  No observation of Comet Panstarrs 2012 K1 on this observing session.

Dew was a problem on this night...everything was coated shortly after setting up.  It was cool enough to keep the bugs down, though.

There was a reddish sky to the East all during this session, not sure what caused it, maybe lights from Saint John?  One satellite was seen in the northern sky going from west to east...one, faint shooting star was seen coming almost straight down in the North East across Cassiopeia.






Thursday, May 1, 2014

MARCH 2014 OBSERVING IMAGES

Here are some images from my observing sessions in March of this year.  This past winter was especially difficult to get observing time with all the wind and snow storms....this observer is happy spring has sprung.








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