Thursday, March 09, 2006

winter is almost done

I can hardly believe that winter is almost done. Sadly, I got in very little observing time. Between fatigue and the cold nights - I wimped out. I hope to get one good night of winter skies in, but seeing the Leo Trio on APOD got me stoked for Spring observing.

A parallogram mount and trip is on it's way for my 15 x 70s.

I am a sexy geek.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

hopeful anticipation

Came across this neat bit of software on the BRT forums. It's called Aladin. From the Aladin web site:

"Aladin is an interactive software sky atlas allowing the user to visualize digitized images of any part of the sky, to superimpose entries from astronomical catalogs or personal user data files, and to interactively access related data and information from the SIMBAD, NED, VizieR, or other archives for all known objects in the field (see available data). Aladin is particularly useful for multi-spectral cross-identifications of astronomical sources, observation preparation and quality control of new data sets.

The Aladin sky atlas is available in three modes: a simple previewer, a Java applet interface and a Java Standalone application."

I had a little fun with it at lunch time today using the Palomar plates:

Astronomy enthusiasts everywhere have entered a bleak stretch of time. The clouds have rolled in courtesy of all the new gadgets and toys that Santa left underneath the tree this past holiday season. So, we're left with a lot of waiting and subsequent cursing at the local weather forecasters. At least once, the notion of driving across three states to try out new gear has crossed our minds. For a fleeting second, it didn't seem like a bad idea either.

It's during this time distractions are discovered on the 'net (BRT, Slooh, etc), we pick up our books, and our charts, we gaze wistfully at our new gear, and the itch gets more and more unbearable until finally, the cloud breaks

...and the moon is full ;-)

Happy new year!

Monday, January 02, 2006

First Few Bradford Telescope Images

Thought I'd share my first hand at imaging with the Bradford University remote telescope image. Click on the image to enlarge.



M81 and 82

Monday, October 31, 2005

great odin's raven!

Apparently, good o'l Pluto and Charon aren't wandering our solo system alone. A team of research seems to feel they have located two additional moons. Read the full story here.


(this image will change, it is dynamically updated...oh la la la, but right now, it looks ideal for observing)

The clear sky clock is looking great for tonight. There is absolutely no denying it. I’d love nothing more to get out into the backyard for a little observing. It’s hard to say if that will happen or not, at this point. It’s Halloween, as we all know. Ghastly creatures will be wandering around the neighborhood, at least, for the early part of the evening. The little ghoulies might start throwing things (namely, tootsie rolls) at the “weird guy” with the telescope in his backyard. Then there is the issue of the novel. My muse is screaming for continued love and attention. I’m in such a good writing groove; I’d hate to take an evening off at this point and lose the momentum. Maybe, after I feel I’ve logged enough time at the computer, I’ll have the steam to look at Mars. I’d hate to miss this close pass, as it’ll be 2018 before it comes around anywhere near as close again. The seeing is forecasted to be good.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed. In the end, though, it’s up to me. I’ll leave ya with today’s APOD, because it is very cool.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bradford Robotic Telescope

Over a bottle (or two) of wine last night, I reached all new levels of geekiness. I recently had to cancel my Slooh account to put myself in a position to buy an engagement ring for quite possibly the hottest female in the world. I really did enjoy the whole online telescope. Slooh really provided some great, great images. I do plan on throwing together a gallery at some point, but I haven't gotten there just yet.

I stumbled across the Bradford Robotic telescope, various optical devices (Celestron C14 and a couple of cameras), remotely operated at the Observatorio del Teide 8,000 feet up on the Island of Tenerife. Teide is also where the Slooh observatory is located and it really has some stunningly dark skies. The project is definitely more hands on and research oriented than Slooh seemed to be. Basically, you submit jobs to a job que and wait and see what ya get. I submitted several jobs last night while Jen and were hanging out in front of the TV drinking some wine and relaxing.

I'm looking forward to the jobs completed. The output is in the FITS format, which is raw. I'm excited about the opportunity to learn how to process FITS images in Photoshop.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Astronomy Picture of the day

The shot for the 30th is definitely a neat one. According to the caption: " Clouds of glowing hydrogen gas mingle ominously with dark dust lanes in this close-up of IC 1396, an active star forming region some 2,000 light years away in the constellation Cepheus. In this and other similar emission nebulae, energetic ultraviolet light from a hot young star strips electrons from the surrounding hydrogen atoms. As the electrons and atoms recombine they emit longer wavelength, lower energy light in a well known characteristic pattern of bright spectral lines. At visible wavelengths, the strongest emission line in this pattern is in the red part of the spectrum and is known as "Hydrogen-alpha" or just H-alpha. Part of IPHAS, a survey of H-alpha emission in our Milky Way Galaxy, this image spans about 20 light-years and highlights bright, dense regions within IC 1396, likely sites where massive new stars are born."

I haven't been out observing since, I hate to say it, but I think its been since June! I did get a couple of new books the other day that I'm looking forward to diving into. I hope to have a slightly more active observing life in the Autumn and Winter. I've got to remember to get to a sporting goods store to get a bunch of the chemical hand warmers. You want those puppies in you boots and in your pockets on a cold winter night, believe me. I didn't have them last year, and it limited the amount of observing I could do in the winter.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

ooh la la

This is taken directly from APOD (August 11, 2005).

Young suns still lie within dusty NGC 7129, some 3,000 light-years away toward the royal
constellationCepheus. While these stars are at a relatively tender age, only about a million years old, it is likely hat our own Sun formed in a similar stellar nursery some five billion years ago.

Most noticeable in the striking image are the lovely bluish dust clouds that reflect the youthful starlight, but the smaller, deep red crescent shapes are also markers of energetic,
young stellar objects. Known as Herbig-Haro objects, their shape and color is
characteristic of glowing hydrogen gas shocked by jets streaming away from newborn stars.

Ultimately the natal gas and dust in the region will be dispersed, the stars drifting apart as the loose cluster orbits the center of the Galaxy. NGC 7129 is about 10 light-years across.


Its been a while since I've had the chance get any observing in. Since June, as a matter of fact. Although, the urge to do so is getting hard to ignore. I happened to see Mercury on my run this morning, just before sunrise. I just might get out for a little bit at the house. I doubt that I'll be able to trek out to CHR, but ya never know.

Stranger things have certainly happened.