Halloween Outreach

Halloween: Awesome Astro Outreach!

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Countless hoards of children and parents alike stream through my neighborhood each Halloween. I love that it’s still alive here; from talking to others it seems like it is a dying holiday. And so, blessed with “clearer than usual” skies for this time of the year, a last minute thought popped into my mind: Why not try some astronomy outreach from the driveway?

The crescent moon offered a nice crater pocked terrain for the casual child glance and Jupiter came up a few hours later. Neither More >

IC 342

Face on Spirals: IC 342

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Hidden away by dust from our own galaxy lay a huge galaxy known only as the boring “IC 342″. Nearly 20 arc minutes square, this spiral fills a wide field of view under modest powers. Visually, it’s not much more than a faint, fuzzy star with hints of nebulosity scattered around. Imaging this target is equally dificult given it’s diffuse nature and the dust hiding it away.

I’ve imaged it on several occasions and never been very happy with the result, until now. However, this pushed all my More >

Regular 2s Guiding

SBIG’s Adaptive Optics: The AO-L

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I am one of the unfortunate blokes who jumped on the waiting list for the QSI 683WSG which was announced at NEAF back in April. And I waited. And I waited. And here, four months later, more than twice as long as the “6-8 weeks” I was originally told, I was fed up. So I started to look around to see what I could find when with perfect timing, SBIG announced their 90 day sale. So I splurged a bit with the purchase of an STL 11000, AO-L, MOAG, and Remote Guider Head. I’ve had some issues More >

M33

M33 is Back!

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Well it’s been a pretty good August for imaging. While most of the world seems focused on M101 supernovae or Comet Garradd, I went after a slightly different target: M33. I’ve imaged M33 on several occasions with different equipment so I thought I would continue to add to the collection — it’s been almost a year since the last images were taken.

While M33 is very diffuse, it’s also very large. So large that to grab all of it’s spiral nuggets would require a low magnification or a giant More >

B144, LDN857, SH2-101, Tulip Nebula

Flowers of the Night Sky

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Cygnus is home to a plethora of wonderful objects – both for visual observing as well as imaging. Due to my latitude, it goes right overhead and is easily my favorite constellation – even ousting the hunter of the winter sky, Orion. Filled with gajillions (yes that’s a technical term) of stars, this band of our very own Milky Way galaxy is home to countless nebula, both bright and eerily dark.

Bright nebula such as the Orion Nebula are the ones you’re probably used to seeing. Move forward a More >

M15 and Comet Garradd

M15 and Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd)

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One of the cool iphone apps I use for astronomy is Starmap Pro which includes a great “find comets” feature. Ironically, the brightest one coming up was also the very same one that was mentioned recently in Astronomy magazine as “passing near M15″ and was pretty bright – magnitude 8!

M15 and Comet Garradd

Processing comet images can be a challenge. In particular, comets move fast! Well, they move fast with respect to the background stars. This creates challenges for “stacking” images More >

M45, The Moon, Jupiter

Conjunction Function

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While the rest of the United States basks in a record setting heatwave, here in Woodinville, WA we are just coming out of a week long rain stretch into what was supposed to be some clear skies. And clear they were – right up until I had set up my equipment. So, after five hours of dysfunctional imaging spoiled by large wafting masses of dihydrogen monoxide, I decided to go ultra short focal length with the Canon Rebel XSI to see if I could capture some of mom nature’s beauty on a wider, less More >

NGC 6960: The Witch's Broom

NGC 6960: The Witch’s Broom

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Some of the most beautiful images come the death of stars. Of course, those deaths such as the recent supernova in Messier 51 are so far away that we’re not going to be able to view their beauty (especially against the backdrop of their galaxy hosts!) However, our very own galaxy, the Milky Way is host to it’s fair share of supernova, and the nebulous remnants they leave behind. One such example is the Veil Nebula.

The Veil Nebula is a fairly large complex which is often broken up into three More >

Supernova SN2011dh, M51

Supernova SN2011dh Caught in Messier 51

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Sometime in late May, early June a star decided that’s its time was up. The largest explosions in nature, supernova occur when massive stars use up all their nuclear fuel. They collapse on themselves and the increase in pressure once again triggers fusion. This results in a massive explosion, first theorized by squirly Caltech Physicist, Fritz Zwicky. To paraphrase Bill Bryson, supernova are very important for a lot of reasons, the least of which is that without them, we wouldn’t be

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Messier 16, The Eagle Nebula

M16, The Eagle Nebula

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The Eagle Nebula is wonderful emission nebula, with the apparent image of an ‘eagle’ soaring high in it. This same eagle is where the famous Hubble Pillars of Creation image is. Located in Serpens (7000 light years away), this is generally low on my northern sky, but I was able to pull off a series of 10x 10 min subs that seem to process fairly well.

Messier 16, The Eagle Nebula

Special kudos to Drew, who suggested imaging this object last night

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