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SirThoreth
2003-Dec-31, 03:59 AM
OK, was going through my slides, and found a really good one of star trails
around Polaris I took December 21st, around 4 AM (yeah, I know - I need to
take better notes). This is an approx. 20 minute exposure on the new
formula Kodak Elite Chrome 100 (1024 x 681 image, 99 kb jpeg):

http://www.websown.com/~jdonahue/astro/trails/polaris-s.jpg

Neat pic, right? But, but, what the heck is that streak heading from the
upper left of the image to the lower right? I know it's not a plane -
they'd <a href="http://go-advertising.com?go=travel" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: travel';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">travel</a> horizontal to the bottom of the pic. It would've helped, I
suppose, had I noticed this moving object. Unfortunately, I didn't.

Right now, I'm thinking one of two things. Either I captured a Geminid
meteor, or that's a satellite in an orbit that carries it more or less over
the celestial pole. Weird thing is that'd put it more or less over Africa
on the other side of its journey, IIRC. It was taken on December 21, 2003,
so I don't think timing's that bad for a Geminid, though I'm not sure it
would've had such a curved arc. Course, it oculd be a lens artifact, but
I'm kinda doubtful for that.

Hmm, I checked www.heavens-above.com for some possible contenders, and I
suspect it's the Resurs 01 rocket. Heavens Above lists its appearance in
San Diego as follows:

Starts: 4:23:52 AM. 10 degree alt, NNE Az.
Max Altitude: 4:28:08 AM. 43 degree alt, E Az.
Ends 4:32:24 AM 10 degree alt, S Az.

Nah, that's not sounding right, either. Course, if I knew a bit more about
reading their charts, I suppose that'd help. Too much of a newbie to
astronomy to figure this one out on my own.

Bleh. Anyone have any thoughts?

On the other hand, I got some pretty good pics beyond that (I'm still scanning in a bunch of 'em, though):

http://www.websown.com/~jdonahue/astro/orion/orion01s.jpg
-- Orion, 8 second exposure, 50mm lens, same film as above.

http://www.websown.com/~jdonahue/astro/planets/jupiter02s.jpg
-- Jupiter! Took this one through my 50mm with a x2 teleconverter, so it's only about x2.4 magnification. :cry:

Well, it's decided, though, I'm picking up a 70mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (925mm FL) tomorrow. I'll get a good German EQ when I've got the cash, but, on a regular alt-az tripod, I should be able to get some halfway-decent pics, and I really wanna try to get some pics this Saturday of Saturn. 8)

Dickenmeyer
2003-Dec-31, 04:06 AM
Took some pix of Saturn this evening. Most of them were truly awful, the seeing was really bad due to wind. Only a couple of the shots plainly show the rings but none of them are sharp. It is supposed to be clear over the weekend, I'm going to try to take more then if it's not too windy.

SirThoreth
2003-Dec-31, 04:50 AM
Took some pix of Saturn this evening. Most of them were truly awful, the seeing was really bad due to wind. Only a couple of the shots plainly show the rings but none of them are sharp. It is supposed to be clear over the weekend, I'm going to try to take more then if it's not too windy.

They're expecting showers on Friday, and partly cloudy through the rest of this week and next. Hopefully, I'll be able to see something, still, though - some nites, despite the clouds, I can still get some good viewing in around 'em.

DataCable
2003-Dec-31, 06:23 AM
I got off work at midnight, walked outside and saw Jupiter hanging over the eastern horizon plain as day, even through the photonic pollution of the lights in the parking lot. I looked to the south, and there (so I thought) was Saturn. I even pointed them out to a few people. I got home and took another look under much darker conditions, and once I identified Orion, found I was WAY off on the Saturn ID. (It was actually Sirius.) I didn't realize Saturn was dang-near straight up (at midnight).

I pulled out my 'scope for just a few mins to take a peek. The one spot of coincidental umbra near my house (in the driveway, unfortunately) meant I had to view Jupiter through the branches of a tree in the next yard, but there it was, as were 4 of the moons. (until I checked with The Sky software, I wasn't sure if they were actually jovian moons, BG stars, or some weird refraction artifact from the branches 8) ) Then I swung it up for a quick peek at the ring'ed one before my fingers froze off. I'd checked out Saturn through the scope a few months ago, when it was much lower to the east, hence the mis-ID.

Makes me wish I'd ordered a 4mm eyepiece (only have 10 and 20 right now) and a clock drive, so I could max out the mag on this newt and maybe snap some photos.

DJ
2003-Dec-31, 01:11 PM
i finally got a jupiter pic that has some detail, but i had to use a very strange mechanism: a webcam, to pic up the details. otherwise it was just a big bloom. this is at prime focus on my newtonian. someday i'll have the right filters to do this with a regular astro ccd cam...

http://www.110100100.com/images/jupiter1.jpg

SarahMc
2003-Dec-31, 02:13 PM
i finally got a jupiter pic that has some detail, but i had to use a very strange mechanism: a webcam, to pic up the details. otherwise it was just a big bloom. this is at prime focus on my newtonian. someday i'll have the right filters to do this with a regular astro ccd cam...


I think you'll find that webcams are excellent for planetary work. You can take an AVI for a minute or two, then break the file into separate frames as bmp images. Once you have that done, you can stack the best of the images to get a very good image.

There's numerous software packages out there that will do the majority of this for you, as well as apply a number of filters and wavelets to the image prior to post processing (as in Photoshop, Images Plus or PSP). Registax (http://aberrator.astronomy.net/registax/) and K3CCD (http://www.pk3.org/Astro/index.htm?k3ccdtools_download.htm) are the two I use most often. K3CCD to aquire the images, and then Registax to align/combine them.

You can buy a Moog adapter (http://webcaddy.com.au/astro/adapter.htm) for your webcam if it has a threaded (12mm) lens. You remove the lens and thread in the adapter, that allows you to use the webcam at prime fous with an 1.25" EP diagonal/focuser or visual back.

I was hoping to get out tonight to get images of Saturn at opposition, but it looks like I'll be in clouds all night.

tofu
2003-Dec-31, 02:48 PM
But, but, what the heck is that streak heading from the upper left of the image to the lower right?

Those are great photos. Very beautiful. I think the streak in the first one must be a satellite. In photographs that I've seen of meteors there were blobs at places where it had shown a little brighter. This object seems to have had a uniform brightness.

tngolfplayer
2003-Dec-31, 07:18 PM
I use K3ccd usually to acquire my images, then I process them in Registax, Adobe, and stellar magic. I went out last night and got some decent pictures of saturn, I haven't processed them yet, and early this morning I got some of Jupiter and M13. I use generally a SAC7 , except for full moon and solar shots, then I use a canom powershot held up to the eyepiece. Any of my pictures can be viewed at my website(in my signature, shameless plug).

I would assume the streak through your picture is either a plane or a satellite, unless you took the picture Christmas eve, then I would say it is Santa :lol:

Alex W.
2003-Dec-31, 10:07 PM
What an amazing picture of Jupiter! :D I'm remembering why I love astronomy now. You can look up and actually see the cool stuff. :D

Dickenmeyer
2004-Jan-02, 04:46 AM
I was WAY off on the Saturn ID. (It was actually Sirius.) I didn't realize Saturn was dang-near straight up (at midnight).

Happy Opposition!! You were just lucky enough to catch Saturn on opposition day (December 31 this year, or last year now I guess) when it rises at sunset, is at zenith at midnight and sets at sunrise. It's also at it's closest point to Earth for the year.

DJ, great picture. I tried to take some more last night (of Saturn) but despite much improved seeing I still didn't have much luck. I've been having some recurring problems with my dec motor and controller and I can't get my scope to track worth a darn so my pix are coming out blurred due to the apparent motion of Saturn across the field of view. So, more tweaking is in order before I get any good shots.

Kaptain K
2004-Jan-02, 12:00 PM
If your scope is properly polar aligned, you don't need the dec motor for tracking.

SirThoreth
2004-Jan-02, 05:01 PM
If your scope is properly polar aligned, you don't need the dec motor for tracking.

Yeah, but, as I found out last night, "properly" aligning an EQ is a pain in the neck.

I just bought an Orion StarMax 90mm Mak on an EQ mount on Wednesday, and set the EQ mount up yesterday. Wednesday, I was partying most of the night, and I thought Saturn was making its closest approach tomorrow. Whoops.

Anyway, I get everything together, make sure it's balanced properly, and head out into my backyard. I aim the bloody thing at Polaris, then line up on the Moon, and align my finderscope. So far, so good. Next, I'm off to find Saturn (we'll just gloss over the T-ring for my camera breaking - bleh), which wasn't too hard. However, I found that my alignment was ust slightly off, so I had to adjust both RA, and make slight dec adjustments, to keep tracking. The problem got especially bad at higher levels of magnification.

IIRC, though, isn't that why they make guiders, whether they're off-axis guiders or ones that attach to your finderscope?

Kaptain K
2004-Jan-02, 06:47 PM
Yeah, but, as I found out last night, "properly" aligning an EQ is a pain in the neck.
True, very true. There is "close enough for visual" and "close enough for photography". Remember, that Polaris is about 3/4 degree away from the NCP (north celestial pole). Several companies make eyepieces with reticles that mark the true pole's position with respect to Polaris.

SarahMc
2004-Jan-03, 02:11 AM
IIRC, though, isn't that why they make guiders, whether they're off-axis guiders or ones that attach to your finderscope?

[nitpick] Well, guidescope, not the finderscope :D

Autoguiders are pretty much used only for astrophotography. They use a CCD camera's pixels to monitor a star's movement, then adjust the tracking motors accordingly to keep the star centered within a few pixels or so on the CCD.

Even with an autoguider, you need a very, very good polar alignment and preferably, periodic error correction built into the mount. High tracking errors can't be corrected with an autoguider - it "loses" the star too quickly and the mount won't be able to keep up. The adjustments are very small.

With a good polar alignment, my SCT can keep a star within the FOV at 120x for a good 3 hours. There's a good reason why people add a motor drive to equatorial mounts, even if it's only in the RA axis. :D

Dickenmeyer
2004-Jan-03, 04:36 AM
If your scope is properly polar aligned, you don't need the dec motor for tracking.
I know, but...