Observing - what did you see tonight?

With what did you observe?

Discuss celestial objects and phenomena outside the Earth's atmosphere, Earth-launched satellites and exploratory missions, etc....

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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#101  Postby theropod » Jun 02, 2017 12:04 am

IMG_6178.JPG
May 31, 2017 Moon
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The above was taken using a cheap ebay 18X telephoto lenses for an iPhone. It has major focus issue, which is either caused by or a result of, the optical distortions in the glass. No tracking. Single exposure.

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Barn Door Tracker Drift Alignment
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I am still working on my DIY Barn Door Tracker and this shot is a 5 minute exposure. Jupiter is the bright "star" on the upper right of this image. I think I may need to up the drive motor speed just a touch more, but it is very close now. Yes, there's one little meteor in the frame.

I ordered a new Celestron C-90 Maksutov-Cassegrain scope which comes with some sort of tripod, and iOptron ball head mount to match the Skytracker Pro. No, it's not a fancy goto mount, or huge lightbucket, but I hope to get some good results considering what I have done with so much less.

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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#102  Postby The_Metatron » Jun 02, 2017 4:23 pm

I sold my first telescope, an Orion 10" Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount, to Pierre, a Belgian friend. There's a place also not known for clear skies.

At that time, I'd bought my Meade model LX200 7" Mak-Cas, on Meade's LX200 goto fork mount. All you had to do was teach the telescope where it is by aligning to a couple of guide stars, then key in the catalog number of what you wanted to see. If that object was in view, the scope mount would swing it around for you, and it would be in the eyepiece. Newer GOTO mounts have GPS receivers, so are even easier to initially align.

On those few occasions when we got together to use them, Pierre would routinely grab that Dob and swing it around to whatever he wanted to see, and have it in the eyepiece as quickly or faster than that Meade GOTO mount. I've never seen anyone that knew the sky so well.

As for me, I rely heavily on the StarWalk app on my iPad and iPhone. I have a sky atlas in my pocket at all times.

By the way, there is a simple procedure to set up an iPad to switch to night vision red screen with a triple click on the home button, if anyone is interested. I haven't tried it on the iPhone, but I'm sure it works there, too.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#103  Postby Weaver » Jun 04, 2017 4:32 am

Jupiter and the Moon were in close conjunction tonight - separated by about 2 degrees (although an optical illusion which makes the Moon seem big makes it look like only about a degree).

Pictures taken with my phone - an iPhone 6S, with no camera enhancements. Pretty impressive for such a small lens.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#105  Postby Macdoc » Aug 13, 2017 12:00 am

It's that time of year again and looks clear. Might take a late night ride to York Soaring - my go to spot for meteo showers

Image

Forget the eclipse for a moment: Perseid meteor shower set to peak tonight
We could see 100 meteors per hour in dark-sky locations


http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/perseid-meteor-shower-peak-1.4231217

Got 6 decent to one quite faint...last one was very bright goody to finish on ( moon is rising ) and one short bright one near the horizon.

That's certainly okay for an hour in Mississauga....there were indications of fainter ones.....but what I saw was satisfying - especially the last one. Some should have got a good show in dark areas.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#106  Postby theropod » Aug 13, 2017 11:57 am

Cloudy and cool here. Biggest night for a meteor hunter and this crap killed it. It's been cloudy here for three days and supposed to stay that way for several more days. Very unlike normal Arkansas summer nights. So disappointed.

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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#107  Postby tuco » Aug 13, 2017 12:06 pm

Same here, cloudy, sux.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#108  Postby theropod » Aug 13, 2017 2:35 pm

tuco wrote:Same here, cloudy, sux.


What? Common ground? Perhaps miracles do happen.

:cheers:

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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#109  Postby tuco » Aug 13, 2017 7:08 pm

Yes and there is probably more if we stop making it personal when it comes to different points of view.
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Observing - what did you see tonight?

#110  Postby The_Metatron » Aug 19, 2017 11:33 pm

We haven't seen it yet, but there is a solar eclipse predicted for Monday morning. It's path of totality fairly cuts the lower 48 states in half, starting with Oregon.

I won't be photographing, but I will be on site with someone who is. But, I'm making the trip on my motorcycle. Unless we try an entire family plus dogs wagon train to the path of totality, all of us aren't going to see this one.

But, they'll see a 96% eclipse. That's something to see. If you can look at it.

First, out of a moving box, I made a pinhole camera into which you stick your head to see what the camera sees.

Image

Here's its projected image:

Image

It's sharper than that photo, my iPhone got overwhelmed by the spot.

So. Good, but small. And, only one person at a time can use it. Could I do better?


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Observing - what did you see tonight?

#111  Postby The_Metatron » Aug 19, 2017 11:51 pm

You bet, I did.

I used a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the pinhole aperture in the mask I put over my library window, turning my library itself into a pinhole camera.


Image

Image

That mirror is big enough to cast a spot of sunlight onto that pinhole for about ten minutes. It's a beveled mirror, so on the projection, the bevels are visible, showing where the sun appears on the mirror. It'll give The Metatrix a visual indicator of when to step outside and adjust the mirror a bit.

Image

I turned a desk lamp on, so my iPhone camera would stop down a bit for this shot. Otherwise, it's far better to observe in the dark in my solar observatory library.

The projected disk of the sun is about 30 mm in diameter. The projection screen, a sheet of white cardboard stuck to a music stand, is about three meters from the pinhole.

My first attempt was putting the pinhole (a small food tin lid with a hole poked through it with a needle) in front of the glass of the window. That produced ghost images caused by reflections and retractions through two sheets of window glass. Ugh.

So, I removed the bug screen from the left half of the window frame and put the pinhole on that side, so the projected rays don't have to go through any glass. All I have to do is open the window on the inside to make a clear light path from the pinhole to the projection screen.

My family can enjoy watching the moon obscure 96% of the sun from the comforts of their chairs, together. Good result.


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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#112  Postby theropod » Sep 06, 2017 9:49 pm

While the sun was out, the air is almost dry, it isn't Africa hot and I had ran my weed whacker dry of cutting line I decided to test my Baader Planetarium apature filter on my little Celestron mak. I got the scope to focus crisply on the sunspots this morning, did some of my jungle control work, and relaxed while capturing a few photos this afternoon. This was done with the provided camera app with iOS, including a wee bit of exposure reduction, cropping and rotating as I do not have the telecope's erecting prism in place. Had I a good mount this would have documented the eclipse.

The two smudges on the left are high thin clouds. Can you see the "tiny" sunspot in the Southern Hemisphere?

IMG_0702.JPG
09/06/2017 3:30 CST USA Sunspots.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#113  Postby felltoearth » Sep 13, 2017 12:04 pm

The_Metatron wrote:You bet, I did.

I used a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the pinhole aperture in the mask I put over my library window, turning my library itself into a pinhole camera.


Image

Image

That mirror is big enough to cast a spot of sunlight onto that pinhole for about ten minutes. It's a beveled mirror, so on the projection, the bevels are visible, showing where the sun appears on the mirror. It'll give The Metatrix a visual indicator of when to step outside and adjust the mirror a bit.

Image

I turned a desk lamp on, so my iPhone camera would stop down a bit for this shot. Otherwise, it's far better to observe in the dark in my solar observatory library.

The projected disk of the sun is about 30 mm in diameter. The projection screen, a sheet of white cardboard stuck to a music stand, is about three meters from the pinhole.

My first attempt was putting the pinhole (a small food tin lid with a hole poked through it with a needle) in front of the glass of the window. That produced ghost images caused by reflections and retractions through two sheets of window glass. Ugh.

So, I removed the bug screen from the left half of the window frame and put the pinhole on that side, so the projected rays don't have to go through any glass. All I have to do is open the window on the inside to make a clear light path from the pinhole to the projection screen.

My family can enjoy watching the moon obscure 96% of the sun from the comforts of their chairs, together. Good result.


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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#114  Postby felltoearth » Sep 13, 2017 12:05 pm

theropod wrote:While the sun was out, the air is almost dry, it isn't Africa hot and I had ran my weed whacker dry of cutting line I decided to test my Baader Planetarium apature filter on my little Celestron mak. I got the scope to focus crisply on the sunspots this morning, did some of my jungle control work, and relaxed while capturing a few photos this afternoon. This was done with the provided camera app with iOS, including a wee bit of exposure reduction, cropping and rotating as I do not have the telecope's erecting prism in place. Had I a good mount this would have documented the eclipse.

The two smudges on the left are high thin clouds. Can you see the "tiny" sunspot in the Southern Hemisphere?

IMG_0702.JPG

I really love shots of the sun. Nice one.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#115  Postby theropod » Sep 20, 2017 7:38 pm

IMG_1088.JPG
Dual Satellites in Formation (again)
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I sat out for a few hours last night chasing meteors, with little success, but I did manage to capture these two satellites flying in formation again. After looking at the NASA web site I think these are the GRACE Satellites.

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/gravi ... ent-grace/

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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#116  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 21, 2017 1:18 am

I don't think so, man. They are separated by 137 miles, and one follows the other, not abreast of it.


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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#117  Postby The_Metatron » Sep 21, 2017 1:23 am

This site might be useful to identify satellite flares: http://www.satflare.com/track.asp#TOP


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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#118  Postby theropod » Sep 21, 2017 1:46 pm

The problem is I use my phone to grab the images, and I can't search for satellite tracks and take the pictures at the same time. Unless I am inside our house with access to the cell signal booster the chances are slim that I would have enough signal strength to access the net with any sort of reliability. I can't use my desktop computer to track the satellites as our sole internet access is via cell service. I can't use my wifes phone to access the net because she often uses her phone to read if she wakes up in the middle of the night. Adding to this is the fragility of my polar alignment setup. If I mess with the phone in any way while attempting to track the stars I have to realign to Polaris. I might be able to grab the image, run in the house and ID the satellites, but I don't really care that much what they are. Really these, and all other satellites, are a form of light pollution (along with aircraft). The damned ugly streaks they leave on my long exposure shots piss me off. I find these dual satellites a curiosity, and little more. I just thought I would share because this pair of birds keep showing up on a repeating basis. I even captured another image of them last night, but the flare was brief.

IMG_1103.JPG
Dual Satellites
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Crossing light trail of the plane middle of the frame. Note the other short tracks. Those are satellites also. The upper left track was an oddity as it was a blinking with long intervals and extraordinarily slow moving. Apparently whatever that was is in an extremely high orbit. I suspect a spent rocket body. Zooming in will show this track to be a series of dots, which to the naked eye looked like flashes from micrometers as they were very bright and very brief.

RS

ETA: These might be third generation NOSS satellites.
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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#119  Postby theropod » Sep 23, 2017 5:52 pm

IMG_1130.JPG
Meteor Two
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IMG_1129.JPG
Meteor One
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Last night I saw, and captured, more meteors than I have in the past three weeks. Naturally the two large fireballs I saw were out of frame. One of those two huge meteors entered from the southwest, created a bright red trail and then broke into two pieces and finally burned up. A very good night for watching the sky. I rated the seeing as a 7 of 10 with 10 being perfect. The humidity was low and the moon was not to be found! Besides these two I caught at least two more. These are both 20 minute exposures using my iOptron SkyTracker Pro, iPhone 6 plus and the app NightCap. Eastern Stone county Arkansas, USA. The brightest star on the middle left is Altair and the one on the top right is Vega.

Yes, satellites and planes spoiled several other pictures.

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Re: Observing - what did you see tonight?

#120  Postby theropod » Oct 13, 2017 9:57 pm

Look who figured out how to use markup on his iPhone.

IMG_1324.JPG
October Streak
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From around 11:00 local time, looking south southeast. Watched it fall! I also captured two specks that must have been tiny objects.

Naturally several nice meteors fell just out of frame, again! I think I need about 6-8 iPhones arranged like an insect eye to "see" more of the sky.

Also, these guys made another pass, about 15-20 minutes following the meteor fall above.

IMG_1331.JPG
October Dual Satellites
IMG_1331.JPG (563.02 KiB) Viewed 185 times


Also I took some time to look at Andromeda with my C90. Using my 32mm eyepiece (least magnification I own) I could not see all of it! The giant galaxy overran the field of view. I discovered that when the ultra bright central core is just out of the field of view the detail and textures of the spiral arms come into view. When I finally get my tracker to hold my little scope steady I will definitely target this beast. I may need focal reduction to frame Andromeda, but tonight the sky is supposed to be even more clear. Last night was an 8.5 out of 10 on a seeing scale! For around here that's something.

I may attach my phone to the scope tonight even though I don't have it tracking. A couple hours work ought to give me a couple good shots. That big old galaxy is looking pretty this time of year. Now if a supernova would just pop over there!

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