Abell 2218 Gravitational Arc L comparison

Abell 2218 Reveals More Cosmic Secrets

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Galaxy Clusters are some of the most enigmatic and beautiful phenomenon observable. They are also often home to another fascinating occurence known as gravitational lensing. One which I have imaged many times over is Abell 2218. Located in Draco (a great constellation for deep sky galaxy hunting), this cluster is well known for an image from hubble showing massive arcs of distorted galaxies. The light from these galaxies passes near the cluster and gravity bends and warps the light creating More >

car-and-scope

Road Trip!

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I finally did it. I packed up a bunch of equipment and drove 5% of the Earth’s circumference to find clear, dark skies. And, it wasn’t really that difficult, even in a mid sized sedan hybrid! Mind you, this wasn’t the sole purpose of the trip, but it was certainly a highlight. A member of the San Diego Astronomy Association kindly provided some GPS coordinates of an abandoned heli-pad “in the middle of nowhere” which made for a wonderful site. A large hill blocked most of the San Diego More >

Large Meteorite

It’s Space News Week!

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Yep, lots of exciting announcements all throughout the week. First, we started with the XPrize Foundation‘s Visioneering. That’s where new X Prize concepts are researched to incent innovation and address market failures. Arguably the most well known was the was the Ansari X Prize, a $10M prize for the first privately funded spaceflight. And now you’re probably hearing that X Prize creator Peter Diamandis is now on to space more directly with a new venture: Planetary Resources.

Planetary More >

M102, Messier 102, NGC 5866

UFO’s and Flying Saucers! Well, Sorta…

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M102, Messier 102, NGC 5866

A few nights back (Friday the 13th to be exact!), I watched as a bright light “flew” across the sky. Flying swiftly from West to East, by the time I was able to get my iphone video camera out it was nearly covered by the trees. Binoculars handy, I pulled them out to take a peek but didn’t see any definitive shape. No flashing “wing lighting” of an airplane, not even contrails that you’d normally expect to see this time of year. However, it was on a path that I More >

NGC 5033

NGC 5033

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Yes, it’s time for galaxy season again! Last nights learning experience yielded a rather beautiful field — filled with a whole suite of galaxies! Dominating the center of this field is NGC 5033, located in Canes Venatici, a small constellation right under Ursa Major. If you look carefully at the full frame, you’ll notice an asteroid happily trucking along to the left of NGC 5033. Way off to the right is a an odd duckling, NGC 5002. Super tiny PCG 2085892 lay slight above and to the right More >

Venus Jupiter Conjunction

Jupiter and Venus Smile!

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No, they are not UFO’s. No, they are not meteors, nor comets, and I’m pretty sure your horoscope isn’t going to spell doom because of those “bright things in the sky”. Even though we’re a few days early from the closest point, Jupiter and Venus continue to near their conjunction before they start to “appear moving further away”. And lucky me: between the snow flurries and otherwise crazy weather we’ve been having I was able to sneak in a picture through the trees on my Phone. A gentle More >

Wonderful sunset from 36k feet...

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon. Oh, and Mercury and Uranus can come too.

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This is a month of exciting celestial body motion. Right now in the early evening, if you look to the west after dusk, you’ll see two bright star looking things. Those are Venus (the lower, brighter one) and Jupiter. If you’re lucky enough with a good view of the horizon, as the sun goes down, you’ll be able to spot Mercury in the mix. Uranus is close in apparent distance to Mercury, but it’s so low and still too bright to see unaided.

Fast forward another week – around the dreaded (think: More >

IC 2177, The Seagull Nebula

IC 2177: The Seagull Nebula

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The thing about the Seattle area and astronomy is that when there is a break in the permaclouds, full moon or not, we take advantage of it by setting up shop. Sadly the last time this happened was about two weeks ago! But luckily that night was a good one for some more Hydrogen Alpha imaging!

Earlier in the day I’d met with a friend at the gym who recently took possession of a beautiful William’s Optics 80mm. (It’s amazing how heavy it is!) While chatting I realized I had mostly gained More >

Horsehead Nebula, IC 434 in Orion

Horsehead Nebula in Hydrogen Alpha

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One of the challenges with new equipment (which I always seem to be getting more of) is learning how to use it well. I’m still working on getting my STL 11002 running smoothly. Sure, I tried a few of those real quick Ha shots and of course the Crab Nebula, but still these things take time. One of the things I hadn’t tried was running it on my Televue NP101is. Given the wonderful nebula this time of year, it seems like it might be a good idea to give it a try. The first few shots were dreary More >

The Crab Nebula, Messier 1

The Crab Nebula, Revisited

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Several months back I picked up an interesting imaging package: The SBIG STL11002M, LRGBHa filters, the AO-L Adaptive Optics, MOAG and Remote Head. Aside from the learning curve for the new software control package (CCDSoft, which is awesomesauce), I had an issue which unfortunately required a repair. And, like any good Law of Murphy, receiving the working camera also means a prolonged spell of bad weather.

I ran a few star tests, played around with things and finally came around to settling More >

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