Planets

Mercury’s Greatest Transit

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Mercury-Transit

I’m soon about to move in with Melissa and start our lives together in Sacramento, CA. On my last visit to the states, I left all of my DSLR cameras at her place. I realized since I don’t have any cameras left in Sweden, I had to use my Celestron NexImage webcamera, but of course it’s not compatible with Windows 10! After spending almost an entire morning trying to install Windows XP Home edition through Hyper V Manager and also trying to install all the old Windows XP drivers from the Celestron’s CD I finally succeeded to get the webcamera functioning.

Mercury-Transit2

My idea was to broadcast live stream and share that with others, but I found myself abandoning that idea quite soon due to connectivity issues and also due to the camera not being setup properly.

Selfie

To my disappointment, I was running out of time and had to cancel my effort in trying to bring the webcam alive. The event would start at 1:15 PM local hour so instead I captured the event through the afocal-projection method by pointing my Windows cell phone (a Nokia Lumia 1020) against the ocular and to my surprise the phone captured a semi-good photo and a video of the event!

The next visible Mercury transit will occur in 2019 but will not be as spectacular as this one (so called a great transit). The next great transit will be again the 9th of Noveber in 2052. By the time I’ll be 73 years old and hopefully will be able to see it again!
(See facts about Mercury’s periodic transits). Some more facts in Swedish here

Another interesting fact about Mercury as a planet is its orbit around our sun. Not before Einstein came around with his general theory of relativity, could we explain the eccentricity of Mercury’s orbit due to the large bending of space-time fabric around the planet. Before that, Newtonian physics could explain halfway all the visible observations, which annoyed the scientists. Once again, Einstein could nail the answers to this odd behavior of the planet.

Here’s a Youtube video of the event as well, expand the video to full screen in order to see the round dot on the right side of the solar disc. Mercury is a tiny planet and covers a mere 1/158 of the sun’s diameter. Enjoy watching!

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Prophecies are fun!

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Solar-System

So there’s this thing going around that California will suffer great disaster. All that according to one of Nostradamus prophecies. Let us have a closer look to what he wrote:

The trembling so hard in the month of May,
Saturn, Capricorn, Jupiter, Mercury in Taurus:
Venus also, Cancer, Mars, in Virgo,
Hail will fall larger than an egg.

Upon closer look let us sort the planets by constellations:

  • Constellation Capricorn:
    – Planet Saturn (Exists instead by the constellation of Libra)
  • Constellation Taurus:
    – Planet Jupiter (Exists instead by the constellation of Cancer)
    – Planet Mercury (The only one that matches the prophecy)
    – Planet Venus (Exists instead by the constellation of Gemini)
  • Constellation Virgo:
    – Planet Mars (Exists instead by the constellation of Taurus)

So nothing matches except of the planet Mercury. The 29th of May 2015 looks pretty safe to me, so enjoy your weekend everyone! No need to barricade in your shelters or buy any food supplies.

The image above was taken by the entirely free of charge program “Solar System Scope” which runs on a webpage at:

Solar System scope can be also be found for Android and Apple devices ready to be downloaded for free.

Android Phone Astronomy

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Mobile Observatory
I’ve been using for quite some time a few apps that I would love to mention. This time I’m promoting something called Mobile Observatory; its current version is 2.6 and has been developed by Wolfgang Zigma. I’m very restrictive when it comes to IT- or other tech-suggestions before I’ve tried things out for quite a while, but this phone app is very neat! For 1½ years now it sends me regularly updates only when I’m entering the app.

Also, it doesn’t force you to update anything if you just want to go ahead and start using it, even though you really want to if you’d like to keep yourself with up to date astronomical events and data. So my suggestion is to go ahead and download all databases in advance before heading out to observe the night sky.

I must say that I really dislike uncalled updates on my phone specially when they are forced upon you by Play Store; but the creator of this app is restraining the uploads quite well! I think I’ve updated the app itself only twice during these two years of using it.

I am attaching two links on the bottom of my blog post so you can visit and read all the features in detail, but I’ll mention just a few nifty ones that I find very cool.

  • Events – Upcoming astronomical events
  • Sky View – Shows you the current view of the sky based on your location
  • Sky Overview – Shows you the entire sky chart
  • Live View – Point your phone somewhere in the sky and it’ll inform you what you’re looking at
  • Twilight – The dawn, dusk, blue and golden times at your location
  • Eclipses – All about eclipses!!!
  • Moons – Planet moons, their current and upcoming orbits

The app has of course many more features. You can search deep sky and planetary objects, the app will bring you all the information you need in regards to  your location, point out the visible objects for you and give you detailed information on what you’re looking at. You can add objects in your favorites list, you can also browse back and forth in time for an object and also get suggestions on what are the best visible objects for a particular date plus allows you to add calendar reminders when it comes to events.

No need to purchase astronomical calendars or booklets anymore, this app really has it all you need and more for an amateur astronomer. But wait.. Did I mention it also has a night mode view in red light. How cool isn’t that?!

Event Information
Event Information
Jupiter Moons
Jupiter Moons
Planet Orbits
Planet Orbits
Star Chart
Star Chart
Twilight Diagram
Twilight Diagram

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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