I wish every blog reader a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Studying physics is really limiting my time from doing fun stuff, especially when it comes to one of my most favorite hobbies (astrophotography & star gazing). Even though of my time limitations, I couldn’t stop myself from finally buying new equipment I’ve long desired and saved money for, such as a mount upgrade (EQ 6 Pro), a new camera (Canon 50D) and two refractor telscopes from William Optics (Equipment page). I’m definetely now a happy amateur astronomer and even if I’m not able to perform any backyard astronomy these days, the weather wouldn’t allow me anyway and there fore there are no hard feelings since I miss nothing.
Although that is not the truth entirely, I’ve been out late evenings scanning the night skies, focusing on my primary goal objects such as M31 (Andromeda galaxy), M13, Double cluster and the Pleiades. These objects will definetely occupy my time for hours (apart from photo processing the images). I’ve also upgraded myself to Baader’s UHC-S filter which is a fine filter suited for astrophotographers living in suburban areas.
During mid october this year we had comet 103P/Hartley 2 passing by between Cassiopeia and Perseus constellation but I must admit that this comet was absolutely nothing spectacular and definetely not worthy the time. I went out trying to locate this object which was around magnitude 8 and even though with well trained eyes it still looked like any other star. No tail or obvious halos around it even by using wild imagination, so I decided instead to spend some time gazing at galaxies.
Every year in August between the 10th and 13th, we get the opportunity under good weather circumstances to observe the anual meteor showers caused by the Perseids. These small particles mainly made of dust are falling through the earth’s atmosphere from a radiant point in the sky located close by the Perseus and Cassiopeia constellations. These meteor showers are nonetheless remains of an old comet which passes close by our planet over a period of 130-135 years and was last seen in 1992 by the Japaneese astronomer Tsurukiko Kiuchi. The comet is named Swift-Tuttle after the two astronomers who independently were the first observers in modern history during the comet apperance in August 1862 (Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle). Spectral analysis points out that this comet shares similarities with Halley’s comet which is rich in ammonia, water and carbon dioxide and also clasified as NEO (Near Earth Object) as it is approaches earth in a distance of 4 miljion kilometers. The chances of an impact with our planet is 1 in a 1,000,000 which is much less then the frightening asteroid called Apophis were chances are much larger; 1 in 15,000.
This year our observatory will be opento public between 11th to 13th of August 21:30 to midnight allowing all interested to come and visit us under guidance from the observatory staff.
During June-July at Tycho Brahe observatory we were preparing for a large project that would involve the cooperation between many amateur astronomers from different locations in Sweden. The Swedish assosiation for amateur astronomers (SAAF: Svenska Amatörastronomiska Föreningen) helped us to get in touch with other amateur astronomers across the country. Together with my collegue Arne L Ohlsson we started to put hard work on planning, coordinating meetings, assembling nessesary instrumentation and dealing with time pressure.
The ockultation is all about a large rock out in space, or more commonly called an asteroid named 472 Roma passing infront of the delta star (Yed Prior) in the constellation of Ophiucus, causing this large red giant star to dissappear for a around 5 seconds. This asteroidal passage was meant to be easily observed from our location, but negative observations outside the occultation shadow would provide a lot of information regarding the star itself.
It has been mistaken for a long time that the delta star in Ophiucus would be a double and for the first time an asteroid would occult this star and reveal it’s secrets for us. Unfortunately just before the occultation occurred, heavy clouds surounded our area. That was our worse case scenario that just took place, leaving us with unanswered questions.
In the morning we heard that the German and Belgian astronomers were more lucky then us and that many positive reports started to fall in!
It has been a while since my last post but the reasons are mainly because of private life interference rather than the lack of news.
To sum everything up we have seen LCROSS mission at the beginning of October (search for water on the lunar surface at Cabeus crater) to the moon was finally a big success. Many of us believed that the impact would be visually greater than the result, but the most interesting part is the actual data returned to us back on earth. It is now a fact that moon holds large amounts of water, ready to be used for future lunar missions!
Few weeks after I travelled to Stockholm in order to behold Galileo’s telescope, an exhibition that lasts to March next year. The reason of this artifact being part of an exhibition here in Stockholm is to celebrate 400 years since Galileo raised, for the first time in human history, a telescope to observe the night sky for scientific purposes.
I received permissions from the museum to freely take pictures of the telescope as a representative of the Tycho Brahe Astronomy community in order to hold a lecture about Galileo to the members of Tycho Brahe back here in Lund.
I will tell you how that went later on this blog. In the mean while I must also inform that these pictures here are not of the best quality. Darkness from the museum forced my camera to long exposures and my hands were shaking. I should have brought my tripod but in my hurry I forgot it at home. Nevertheless I’ve got the chance to see closely our father Astronomer Galileo’s heritage to us to what might be the very first telescope in the name of the science.
Some interesting links about LCROSS mission can be found here:
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.
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.
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!
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.
- RegiStax 5.0
- Celestron AMCap
- Adobe Photoshop CS2
The trick is to capture a planet by recording an AVI-movie, process it through Registax, do final adjustments in Photoshop and voila!
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:
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!
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.
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!