Latest Event Updates

Dawn Spacecraft Launched

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is on its way to study a pair of asteroids after lifting off today from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:34 a.m. EDT (4:34 a.m. PDT).
(Click the picture – it’s brill!)
My name is now digitally on it’s way to the origin of the Solar System contained in a microchip aboard the Dawn Probe…cool!
The spacecraft will arrive at the asteroids Vesta and Cares sometime in 2011.

Harvest Moon

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A beautiful Harvest Moon tonight!
The sky is perfectly clear with a real Autumn nip in the air, forecast tonight is frost as high pressure sits over the country. I wonder how many farmers are out in the fields bringing in the harvest in the moonlight?
It is certainly bright enough here!
Took this image from my front garden with the Canon 350D set up on a tripod.

Andromeda Galaxy

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This beautiful galaxy has set me a quest – to take a beautiful image of it! I’m getting there slowly!

Now high in the East, Andromeda can be found easily even with binoculars, it is seen as a fuzzy blur. Trying to image it is a challenge as the object is large and the swirls and dust lanes are quite feint.

On the 14th September the sky was perfectly clear and I now have the leads for my camera to run dslr shutter. This means that I can set up the telescope, track my target and take multiple timed exposures with the camera. I decided to take about 100 x 30 second exposures of the Andromeda Galaxy. I set up the equipment and then left it to take the photos automatically controlled by my laptop. I set the format this time for RAW in the hope that I might get a better resolution than the normal JPG format.

Well, all kinds of things started to go wrong….clouds…battery went down in the camera…tracking motor stopped. In the end I managed about 70 exposures and then stacked them in Deepskystacker.

The result above is after hours of processing and stacking.

I have the images in FIT format as well and i’m sure the results will be super in a suitable FITs processor, but I can’t seem to get one working! Still, something to play with later perhaps!

M81 and M82

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These are known as ‘Bodes Galaxy’ and the ‘Cigar Galaxy’ they are in the constellation of Ursa Major. I have seen them before with my Skywatcher 130 reflector, but not easy to find.

On Tuesday the night sky was wonderful, so I set up the ST80 and SLS computerised mount to point at Ursa Major and try to image M81, M82, Whirlpool Galaxy and Pinwheel Galaxy.

Again, the SLT mount along with ‘Starry Night’ was superb! I managed to image all of these with the Canon 350D. The Pinwheel Galaxy and the Whirlpool Galaxy was a bit feint and needed more and maybe longer exposures, but i’m so pleased that I captured them!

I now need a lead for dslr shutter so that I can leave the computer to take continuous images for an hour without intervention.

G4AQB Astro Wiki

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Today I went to W.H. Smith to get a copy of this months Sky at Night Magazine. Guess what?
On page 75 under ‘Super Sites’ my Astro Wiki Site is listed with a screen capture of my site!
I’m really pleased, especially when I checked the traffic to the site. (Fame at last!) I wonder if Patrick Moore or Chris Lintott has looked at my sites? Click HERE for my Astro Wiki.
OK…what is a WIKI?
Well, you can add and edit pages on a WIKI (WIKIPEDIA) Quite a powerful medium for adding and building up information on a particular subject although there are a lot of sceptics as I found out when I posted on SPA!
I did know earlier when Sarah Reed from S@N sent me an e mail but I wasn’t sure which month of the magazine it would be in.

M52 Scorpion Cluster and M103

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M103 (top) and M52 (lower)

Here are a couple more images taken on 7th August. Again, widefield views with the Canon 350D and ST80.

There is a nice piece of software called DSLR Shutter which allows the camera to take multiple exposures of any length. Problem is…it appears to work from an RS232 port which my laptop has not got. I’m trying to find a way of using a USB port, but if i’m also controlling the scope and i’m not sure if another USB – RS232 converter will work.

Well, Summer continues to be anything but! Now we have winds from the North, clouds and cool…and I mean COOL. Last weekend it rained non-stop…and i’m getting a bit fed up!

Bank Holiday Weekend coming up, you know what Bank Holiday weather is like!

I wonder if for once it could be nice?

Quite a crop!

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Above is the Coathanger Cluster, M15 Pegasus Cluster and my best image yet of the huge M31 Andromeda Galaxy with M110 and M32 along with it.
These images taken on the 7th August 2007 with my Canon 350D and ST80 Telescope. I think I could have carried on imaging some of the less known objects as the telescope was controlled by my laptop with the ‘Starry Night’ software. All I had to do was point and click and the telescope and camera would do the rest.
Since that night things have gone downhill weather wise. For the last few nights I have waited to be able to image the ISS with the Space Shuttle ‘Endeavour’ attached to it, but at the the time of the pass nothing but clouds and rain!