Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's day. . . we may be open briefly when it gets dark out tonight

There's a slight chance I'll open up the observatory tonight.   It depends on the weather and how my day goes.  Today is Father's day.  We opened up the observatory and I didn't make an announcement because some members of the club seemed interested in observing and I thought we might have a fairly good turnout.  I also met a few people while out and about during the day Saturday and mentioned to them that the observatory would be open.  None of the public showed up.

Today the skies may be fairly clear.  Last night the skies were plagued with high altitude clouds after 11:20PM and maybe even a bit earlier.  We saw good detail in the surface of Mars and saw Saturn as well with fairly good detail.   We actually had three key keepers and two FAAC astronomers out last night.  We spent much of the time talking about astronomy and listened to several good stories from different members about different topics, like the Messier list and the history of it.  We also looked at Tim Campbell's Flickr photograph page and he showed us some photos and discussed some photography techniques he used.  It was a pretty nice and easy going time at the observatory.

Tim Dey, Tim Campbell, Dan Barriball, Greg Knekleian (me) and Joe Bostic was out at the observatory.  I arrived a bit late at 10PM, but Tim Campbell had the observatory already open as he is one of the key keepers, and also our Ford Amateur Astronomy Club president.   We had a pretty good time and the mosquitoes didn't bother us to much.   Temperatures were a bit on the chilly side and there were a lot of fireworks being set off by locals and at least a half dozen Chinese lanterns being launched locally, while we had the observatory open.

I left at 11:45PM and ran some errands.  I think the observatory closed around midnight.  I took a picture of the moon as it was rising, one day after being a full moon.   The moon lit up the sky quite a bit once it was rising and the clouds started to cover and move in from the north.  We also saw the International Space Station fly overhead.  It actually flew well north below Polaris and toward Detroit's eastern shoreline.  It disappeared in the trees as it grew a bit dimmer.   We saw the ISS with a couple of pairs of binoculars.  We only noticed it during part of it's flight over the horizon and it was out for a couple of minutes while we looked at it with binoculars.


Friday, May 2, 2014

I've been experimenting with 3d imaging techniques while waiting for better weather.

I've been experimenting with ways that I might be able to add filters and masks to some of the telescopes inside the observatory and create a virtual binocular telescope.  This would in theory have a true stereo view and be useful for observing the moon.  It would work a bit differently than my binocular telescope, but might allow some interesting features which we have not seen at HJRO for public viewing options.

More on this when I find out more and complete more experiments.

Most of these experiments involve my telescopes at home at this time and when I get some of the techniques perfected (if I get them perfected) I'm hoping to apply them to the telescopes inside the observatory for some observing sessions which others can enjoy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Received a comment from Tim Campbell about the Saturn images, chromatic color bleeding

Tim mentioned that the red and blue channels were out of alignment and there is a color alignment tool inside Registax that can be used to correct the offset colors.

I did that and reprocessed the Saturn photos.

Here is Saturn again, but with the colors aligned. This brings out more detail. I used virtually the same settings to process this, but changed my neat image approach a little bit. I'll update the other images in the previous post later on my laptop.

More detail :
The color channels can also be changed using advanced imaging programs like photoshop. One would have to split out the channels into layers from a one shot color tiff. Then align them as separate color channels. Registax did a pretty good job aligning the channels and it did this automatically. All I had to do was draw a box around the object from an rgb align dialog and Registax did all the work doing the alignment.

Not bad for free software off the net (Registax).

Neat image is not free however and can be bought as a stand alone piece of software or as a photoshop plug in.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturn captured early this morning at 625x and 1251x

Captured some AVI movie files using backyard EOS and the Canon t1i on the back of the c14.

The planet looked really nice in the eyepiece, but probably would have looked even better the night before as seeing conditions were about 3 times worse this morning.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Capture and process of Mars at 1251x, 1:08am 4-20-2014

Update I just realized I calculated the powers wrong in the original listing and graphic.   This was calculated without the barlow lens, so my powers are stated at 625x but should be 1251x.  I'm going to change this listing and the graphical photo soon.

I opened up at the last minute without knowing how long I'd be out at about 10pm last night. I emailed a few Faac members or texted them. I thought I'd be out for one or two hours. Nobody showed up as a visitor. I had a lot of fun looking at Jupiter and Mars and tried to capture both of these planets with my canon EOS to get a good photo.

The results of the last capture and some afternoon processing are shown below.

- Mars at 1251x.
Some details

- Should calculate power for Canon EOS t-mounted on C14 as follows 3911mm focal length times 2 divided by 50, times 1.6 for 3/4 frame sensor giving 1251x.

- Used Backyard EOS on a laptop with the Canon EOS t1i.

- Captured a 400 frame AVI movie.

- Processed it a bit on a Asus laptop using Registax 6 (this software is free off the internet.)

- Exported the image as a tiff file, imported it and processed further using Neat Image noise reduction on a Macintosh computer

- Created the chart on the iPad with a Mars Atlas Map screen shot from the same time frame.

As you can see my image is a little dark compared to the chart.

Click on the photo below to see a bigger image.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mars image from 4-18-2014

Here's one of the images we took.

Stacked about 50 out of 600 frames. The level of detail we took may not have been sufficient enough for me to orient the image to match the map from a Mars iPad app.

Image video file captured using Backyard EOS.

Conditions were poor but Mars is near opposition.

The graphic on the original post states this is at 125x but I didn't take into account the 2x barlow lens, so this was actually taken at 250x. Will update graphic soon.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Conditions were far worse than expected for Friday night viewing.

I took a nap and overslept. I woke up and found out my voicemail on my phone was full. I left my phone in another room as well so I didn't hear it when I was napping. I left my house around 10pm and found both Tim's and a new Faac member at HJRO. The sky was mostly cloudy with winds and haze not helping the views. They were looking at Jupiter. It seemed the clouds were clearing a bit, but we had somewhat poor seeing with no real improvement over a 25mm plossl with any higher powered eyepiece, when using the c14. Also the view may have even improved a bit using a lower powered 32mm eyepiece. So seeing conditions were fairly poor. Or perhaps I should say details delivered were poor. The seeing wasn't good, but the movement, from seeing wasn't as extreme as I've seen on some really bad nights with high winds.

I saw much better views of Jupiter in sky conditions a few days earlier in the week. If the seeing is bad we can still try to take an image or AVI movie of a planet and try to process that collection of stills and create a decent photo.

I tried this and used backyard EOS to capture some AVI movie files.

Here is one of the photos I processed of Jupiter below. This image is not very good. It looks a bit better than what we were seeing most of the time at the eyepiece, but it's not nearly as good as I hoped it would have been.

I would have taken a much better image of Jupiter at the end of the science night session earlier last week, when seeing was excellent, but I didn't have a camera with me at that time.

If you double click the image below you'll see a larger image in your browser.

Mars looked much better than I expected it would look. Mars is near opposition right now, which means it's giving great views through nice high powered telescopes. . . If you get a chance to see Mars, now is a good time to see it.

I'll post a photo of Mars in my next blog entry.

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