Astrophotography

Astronomy event in Hven

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Lecture about variable stars
Lecture about variable stars

Came back after an amazing weekend in Hven, a little isle between Denmark and Sweden where astronomer Tycho Brahe once was the head of Europe’s top astronomy researches, trying to resolve problems around the heliocentric model by observing the parallax between stars. We arrived there at Friday morning by car together with Sara and another member of the Tycho Brahe astronomy society.

Sara and I decided to camp by assembling our tent close to the beach on the north-east side of the isle and by the time we were done, we attended our first workshop which was dedicated to Astrophotography. To my disappointment both course leaders were talking 2½ hours about their own telescopes and their old telescopes but nothing about astrophotography… Apart from a slide in their powerpoint presentation with around 30 terms in Astrophotography. During that time Sara had difficulties to keep herself from sleeping, so we decided to abandon this workshop and go for lunch.

Lecture in spectroscopy
Lecture in spectroscopy

The coming days we explored a bit of the isle, eating in most of the restaurants, attending workshops, looking at books, filters, telescopes and talking to professional and amateur astronomers. This event is the first of its kind in Scandinavia partly because we got many participants, but also because it was filled with lectures from professional and experienced amateur astronomers bringing up things about dark matter, exoplanets, variable stars and the cooperation between amateur and professional astronomers in matters of observational data and common research areas.

Within a few days I will post a few links on videos from these lectures and workshops but apart from one lecture in English, the rest was in Danish and Swedish. Unless you understand Danish or Swedish I really recommend you to watch the lecture in variable stars given by Christopher Allen.

Astronomy vendors
Astronomy vendors

One thing that really brought up my curiosity was a lecture in Spectroscopy by Køge Bugt. It is amazing what amateur astronomers got in their hands when it comes to advanced equipment but also their enthusiasm on this kind of homemade research!

The event days came to an end by a few lectures from professional astronomers and a few words from the head of the board from Tycho Brahe Astronomy Society. This event went beyond my expectations thank to all effort, enthusiasm and energy that came from all the participants and people behind the scenes. I will get back with more photos soon!

Time for Jupiter again

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Jupiter by Niklas Henricson
Jupiter by Niklas Henricson

Finally! The weather allowed me to bring out my telescope. It was about time to run some tests with my Celestron NexImage camera. There were many attempts trying to adjust several parameters such as brightness versus contrast, frame rates, quality, shutter speed and so on. I finally found out what to do and was able to record a short movie of Jupiter and then process it in RegiStax 5.

Programs used:

  • RegiStax 5.0
  • Celestron AMCap
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2
Jupiter by Niklas Henricson
Jupiter by Niklas Henricson

The trick is to capture a planet by recording an AVI-movie, process it through Registax, do final adjustments in Photoshop and voila!

Celestron NexImage Solar System Imager

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Celestron NexImage
Celestron NexImage

Last night I finally received my Celestron cam! After some adventures between Amazon.com, my bank and VISA, because of warranty & delivering issues towards me as a European customer it’s finally in my hands. I’m eager to start working with this camera as soon as possible whenever weather circumstances allow me.

The installation worked smoothly on my Windows XP service pack 3 for both my PC and the laptop. This cam is used to record a planetary object such the sun, moon or the planets. The software that follows with the camera assists you to filter out blured and badly exposed images due to atmospheric conditions. I’m giving you a couple of examples on the results below.

For details related to this product visit Celestron website at: http://www.celestron.com/c3/product.php?ProdID=354

Be aware of the sound:

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Lunar Moon Måne

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Moon combined
Moon – N. Henricson

It was almost full moon (-1 day) and I was in big hurry to get a few shots of the moon surface before fog and clouds would set an end to this observing session. The results of this session were not up to my expectations but I hope for a cloudless and clear night for next time. The individual exposures were quite good considering the fog and small clouds that passed before the moon from time to time.

On the southern hemisphere of the moon you clearly see the Tycho crater named after Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer from the mid 15th century. It got a high albedo and the impact resulted in a crater which is quite recent in astronomical terms (108 million years ago). Samples from this crater were collected during the Apollo 17 mission which was the last manned mission to the moon.

Apollo 17 was unique in its way, partly because the first scientist (Harrison Schmitt) was onboard on a mission to land on another celestial object and also because of the lengthy moon-walks. The goal was to gather as many samples from soil and stones as possible.

One of the questions that often arise is, how is it possible that the moon is battered by so many impact craters while the earth does not reveal such landscapes? Scientists have come to the conclusion that earth does not look the same due to erosion and atmospherical and geological activities.

Today it is known that the moon had volcanic activity and also that the existence of the moon was a result of a great impact by another large celestial body that crashed into the proto-earth. This is proven by the fact that the moon and the earth share the same basic geological structure according to the samples gathered from moon’s surface during the Apollo space missions!

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Jupiter

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Sara and myself where about to walk to the grocery store when I asked her if by any chance it would be possible to spend this evening with an observing session. I wouldn’t normally have asked her if it wasn’t because it was our last night together before she would go visit some relatives in Stockholm for a week.

Jupiter with it's moon Io and Europe
Jupiter with it’s moon Io and Europe

Around 10 pm I started carrying out the mount, tube, camera and all other instruments needed. It was about time to set mt sights toward Jupiter. A planet that fascinates everyone that knows a little about it. Apart from it’s size and beautiful colors few people think how important this gas giant has been for our lives and our very existense! Yes… Because Jupiter has acted as saviour for this pale blue dot (C. Sagan) many times. The gigantic gravitational field pulls all the garbage floating around there in the outer solar system towards Jupiter. In fact, Jupiter’s role is as big as the one assigned to our Sun.

Polar alignment kept me busy for the most part, even though a DLSR camera wouldn’t give the same results as a CCD webcam, and the only webcam I own is a CMOS one. Nevertheless, the result you see below and thanks to Sara we could enhance the colors pretty well. So the result of Jupiter with my EOS 300D Digital Rebel was actually good!

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The Sun

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Sun
Sun – N. Henricson

And it was time again to turn the telescope toward the closest star we know. The Sun. And this dwarf star is also the most fascinating! It shows us how other stars work, considering fusion, magnetic fields, solar winds and all other kinds of phenomena making scientists drop their jaws. He still surprises us to a moment of silence during the ending of the 11-year cycle to the moment of violence. “Here I am, and I am alive!”.

It felt like some sort of an instict to bring out my telescope that day without checking spaceweather.com. To my astonishment I saw two solar spots emerging to the southeast on the visible side and the photo to the left is the result. Unfortunately some hot spots appeared and I forgot to handle it.

The following image is an enlargement of the previous one.

Sun spots enlarged
Sun spots enlarged