Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hi Res Ceres (Minor Planet / Asteroid)


I was inspired by Fabio Plocostomos and Chris Go's work on Ceres at high res and decided to go for it myself near opposition or good seeing. So that single 2 day break in rain and clouds a week ago yielded some good Venus and Saturn images and also this great view of Ceres.

I had a hard time finding some good ephemeris data for angular size so calculated it myself as follows:

δ = d / D, where δ is the angular size, d is visual diameter and D is the distance to the object.

So using the WRONG units I get:

1.64AU distance to Ceres and 950km diameter of Ceres gives 0.798".

I hope to not have overexposed the object which would have caused bloat or bloom in the data. I stretched in post processing and resized to 200%



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Titan Transit Teaser 20090224

Observation logs

I think there's a name for titles like that, but at 25*F and early in the AM my brain's not so straight.

Bad seeing too.. looked like the whole continental US had bad jetstream. I hope someone west of here got better as it was fairly low on the horizon here.

I forgot about the time delay in stellarium but that was OK as I overslept a bit anyway. Most of the frames are washed out by the trees but you can make out the shadow in the final 3 or so frames. I also caught Dione in a few frames riding the upper left ring, long before it's transit. So no quad transit, but I was able to get something and that still counts! Lucky me, the sky was clear.

Animation from 1018 to 1114UT:

Object: Saturn and Titan

Origin:ObservationManager - SolarSystem Catalog 1.0
ObserverMichael A. Phillips Mr.
Begin2009-02-24 um 04:00:00-05:00
End2009-02-24 um 04:10:00-05:00
OpticsC8i on CGE
EyepiecePowerMate (V=812.8)
FilterAstronomik LRGB Color
Sitzung2009-02-24 um 04:00:00-05:00
Visual impression

  • Titan transit!


Sessions: 2009-02-24 um 04:00:00-05:00

Begin:2009-02-24 um 04:00:00-05:00
End:2009-02-24 um 06:20:00-05:00
Weather:Poor seeing Great transparency FREEZING 25*F
Equipment:I used: Ubuntu 8.04 Linux and custom coriander CGE mounted 8" Celestron C8i SCT Lymax Cat Cooler DMK 21AF04 2.5x PowerMate Astronomik LRGB filters True Tek Color Filter Wheel with visu diag
Comments:Didn't leave the scope out overnight and it may have impacted some but little of the conditions. I miss timed the Titan Transit becuase of the time delay / light propogation issues with Stellarium. I fixed that now1
>> Observations <<

Observer: Michael A. Phillips Mr.

>> Observations <<

Site: Home

Timezone:UT-300 min
>> Observations <<

Optics: C8i on CGE

Aperture:203.0 mm
Focal length:2032.0 mm
>> Observations <<

Eyepiece: PowerMate

Focal length:2.5 mm
>> Observations <<

Filter: Astronomik LRGB

>> Observations <<

CCD Camera: DMK21AF04

Vendor:The Image Source

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Great seeing on Saturn 2009-02-07

Best seeing I've seen since early September! I used the lymax cat cooler extensively, for 30-45 minutes at times. Re-collimated and ran some tests on the moon. Starting imaging long before Saturn hit the meridian and just before I got too tired to stay awake I tried a monster 5min per channel LRGB session. The CGE was up to the task and I had to do very little corrections. This is the result. My best of the season! I managed to catch at least two moons that I'll have to process seperatley and post later.

I was happy to see such steady seeing after an average start. Some things that I payed close attention to while processing: Shadow of rings on globe, shadow of globe on rings on lower right, Cassini division on both sides and growing gap between the rings.

Also, to all you youngin's out there (Hey, I'm a stark 33 stil!), when the seeing's good make sure you spend some time soaking the light of the object into your eyes. It's all to easy to get wrapped up imaging. I smiled big for the views on my screen but even more to see it sitting still in my 4mm and 9mm eyepieces!

Steady Skies,


Friday, February 06, 2009

*My* 1st light with the new setup - M81/M82

Begin:2009-02-04 um 20:08:01-05:00
End:2009-02-04 um 23:59:00-05:00
Weather:S:? T: 3?/5 Clear, cold and WINDY!
Equipment:Optics: Meade LXD55 Mount: CGE mount on JMI Wheely Bars Focusing Aid: STI focuser Shutter control: Hap Griffin long exposure cable Software: MaximDL Operating System: WinXP Lenovo T43 driven via RDP from inside the house
Comments:*MY* 1st light of the Meade LXD55 and CGE!!! What a pleasure to wheel the whole rig out of the garage into the driveway! Used my Celestron knowledge to get a rough align and was able to get fair results of 90sec+ exposures. At f/5 and ISO800 there is a LOT of LP Setup on M81 / M82 to get lots of subs, staying warm inside now as the outside temps dropped into the upper 20's Align was in the double digit of minutes error after a 2x iterative align. No PEC, no polar scope, no guiding, no drift align.

Details of the new setup here:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

"Near" the Apollo 11 Landing Site

I think the forecast for the night was better than it actually was by a long shot. After checking the collimation I would have guessed it was 5-6/10, but looking at the focus/collimation test on Castor (great double BTW), it was a mere 4/10. I setup to grab Venus and the moon before a longish night on Saturn. One of my music buddies, John, suggested that the Apollo 11 landing site was in prime view and that I should try imaging it. I did and was happy to have a fresh target even though the seeing was poor, thanks John!

First a clean image:

Then one marked for reference:

I actually found the google moon maps useful, have a look and see if I got it or not!


Friday, January 23, 2009

2008 Solary System Review

I recall seeing a flurry of these 'composite' shots last year but not so many this year. I was keen on getting better Icy Giants and went after Uranus and Neptune with as much precision as I could. In all my hasty planning, I let Pluto slip away. It's still a planet in my book so I'll have to give it just desserts next year! I had some photos of the sun shining on the trees in my front yard and thought I'd add that to round it out, but you might find those on my homepage just as easily and I thought it would mess with the 'flow' of the sequence.

Hope you enjoy! Looking forward to 2009!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

New home...

I've tried to cross post interesting articles over here, but the bulk of my 'home' is now here: