December 12, 2017

Astro-Image Processing: How Far is Too Far?

NOT a fake…

Image credit: Dave Dickinson

Alright. We’re going to touch on a hot button issue in astrophotography on this week’s soapbox rant. After years of watching the discussion come ’round, we’re going to add our two cents. When it comes to post-processing, how far is too far? When is an image no longer an accurate rendition of reality? [Read more...]

May 2014: Life in the Astroblogosphere: Two Ways to Observe the Universe

Astro-gear, old and new.

It was one of the biggest blessings and curses as a teenager and astronomy enthusiast growing up in Northern Maine back in the pre-internet days of the 1980’s.

An interest in astronomy – or any academic pursuit, for that matter – was largely a solitary affair, conducted mainly in a vacuum. Once I had devoured the two outdated books on astronomy or any topic of interest at the local public library, it was up to me to simply approach and learn the night sky. The Bangor Daily News ran one monthly column on astronomy by science writer Clair Wood, and the Farmer’s Almanac gave local rising and setting times for my location. [Read more...]

16.10.11: Tales of a Tiny Moon.

A Distant Hunter’s Moon! (Photo by Author).

We thought we’d take this brief weekend moment to share with you the recent fruits of our astro-labor. As good fans and followers of this space know, last Tuesday’s Hunter’s Moon also marked the visually smallest of the year, as Full phase was reached only hours before apogee. [Read more...]

“Trick-out” your Scope!

Our “Star-Party Special!” (All images by Author).

So, you’ve got that brand new Dobsonian or Schmidt-Cass, and you’re looking at making a few add-ons to assure your look isn’t entirely “stock”? Like digital cameras, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life-time is the purchasing of a first telescope. True, the technology changes so quickly, today’s cutting edge instrument is tomorrow’s old tech. These days, some of said technology has even moved online, with programs such as Slooh and the like…  [Read more...]

Imaging Satellites: A Low-Tech Method.

We here at Astroguyz have been working for some time on an interesting technique for capturing photographs of satellites, and by popular demand, we wanted to give a brief rundown at how we were ultimately successful. Go out star-gazing on any clear night, and it’s only a matter of minutes before you’ll notice a star or two that slide silently by. [Read more...]

11.05.10: Ancient Galaxy Mergers.

Astronomers may have found a cosmological missing link in the realm of galactic evolution. The early universe was a crowded place; galaxy mergers must have been much more common in the primeval universe than they are today. But studying those early collisions has been problematic; the immense distances involved over time and space mean that resolving clusters and individual stars are out of the question. Now, a team from the University of Western Ontario led by Sara Gallagher has published a study of an object which may serve as a “living fossil” of those early times; Hickson Compact Group 31. A cluster of irregular galaxies “only” 166 million light years away in the constellation Eridanus, this merger has somehow escaped coalescence over 10 billion years of cosmic history to just begin merging. “Because HCG 31 is so nearby,” Gallagher notes, “we can indentify individual star clusters.” In fact, two main components of HCG 31 approach visual magnitude +13 and have been snared by amateur instruments. HCG 31 is approximately 75,000 light years in diameter, and will probably one day form one huge elliptical galaxy. To conduct this study, Gallagher utilized time and instruments that spanned the spectrum, from Hubble in visible light to Spitzer in infrared to Galex and Swift in the ultraviolet. It is amazing that astronomers now have such capabilities in their bag of tricks at their ready disposal!

04.03.10- The Edgar Wilson Award: A Look at Last Year’s Winners.

In this age of astronomical automation and ever increasingly deeper sky surveys, many believe the era of the amateur comet discoveries to be over. A look at last year’s Edgar Wilson Award winners, however, tells a different tale. Established in 1998, this award has historically split a $20,000 purse among 2 to 6 individuals who have discovered a comet in an amateur capacity.

[Read more...]

Astro-Event: Mars at Opposition.

Contrary to the once-every-August viral emails soon to be clogging your inbox, Mars will not appear as “large as a Full Moon” on this or any other year… but Mars will reach opposition this week on Friday, January 29th. Unfortunately, this apparition isn’t a particularly favorable one; Mars will only reach 14.1” arc seconds in apparent diameter, a far cry from the excellent 2003 opposition where it reached 25.1”, very close to the possible max. This is due to the fact that while Earth reached perihelion earlier this month, Mars is also very close to aphelion in its relatively eccentric orbit. In fact, although Mars approaches us every two years or so, the next really good opposition won’t be until 2018 (24.3”).  Still, any opposition of the Red Planet is worth viewing, as it is rare that Mars reveals any detail at all! Mars is currently in the constellation Cancer, and rises low in the east after sunset. Shining at magnitude -1.2, Mars is unmistakable for its orange-to red glow. Do things look a bit yellowish? A planet wide dust storm could be underway, as it is entering spring on the northern hemisphere of Mars.

[Read more...]

Harvest Moon; an Update.

Note: you can see the resulting image mentioned at the SpaceWeather link at the end of the article.

This morning in Seminole Florida dawned mostly clear, and I decided to have a go at some early morning Astrophotography.

[Read more...]

Planetary Imaging with an Off-the-Shelf Web Cam.

A few years ago, I came across an article in Sky & Telescope about an emerging technology. Apparently, some intrepid sky enthusiasts (I hate the word amateur… to me it denotes bottlecap collecting or trainspotting and other space filling activities) were creating their own planetary webcams.

[Read more...]