Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mars in the galaxy den.

I'd known about this conjunction of Mars and some galaxies for a while, but I missed the close pass due to cloud and caught this wider grouping with a telephoto lens. I got 16 1 minute shots by piggybacking the camera on the society's 9" SCT, on the EQ5 mount, unguided. Unfortunately, my 400mm f/6.3 lens is a tad old and scratched and not really up to the job. But!... I've managed to get an early picture of the Supernova in M95. Pic was taken March 18th, before I'd even heard about it. I'd since seen M95 in an 8" scope at a star party and wondering whether any of those stars were supernovae. I've stuck a little postage stamp sized pic I took of M95 in 2010 next to the galaxy, just to prove it is the supernova. It's a weird picture, containing a strange, abberant and colourful reflection of Mars's light from the lens. I quite like the aesthetic effect of the extreme orange starburst around Mars. I've captured galaxies down to magnitude 14, but they are all faint smudges at best using this equipment.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Heavenly lights

Hello, not blogged for a while so looking through my memory stick I found this one of a recent conjunction. In this scene, the lighting of Norwich cathedral is revealed in all its heavenly glory, shining up into the heavens themselves. Viewed from St James's Hill, the Roman Catholic cathedral appears prominently to the right of the cathedral, and to the right of that the "considerately" lit Sportspark pitches. The Sportspark is not actually part of the University of East Anglia, only by location and name and hence it is not subject to any environmental considerations, just economic ones. In fact, you can't see the Sportspark, because it is over 3 miles away. The general ochre glow in this contrast-enhanced picture contrasts with the natural bluish glow of the moonlight and faint twilight. On the 26th of January 2012, when this picture was taken, Venus was graced by the presence of the crescent moon (upper right of the cathedral). The crescent cannot be discerned because of the contrast enhancement, but the Earthlight reflected back from the dark side of the moon gives a sharp circular edge to the upper left of the moon. A rather aesthetically pleasing composition captured in a few seconds.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Look what I caught the other night! A little tiny rock called Deimos, floating around Mars. I hadn't seen any pictures of this taken from earth, and didn't know whether it was possible for our home made scope. I checked it out prior to travelling down the "obs" and saw there was a faint background star. I wondered why I wasn't able to stack the images properly until I realised Mars and its little moons were being dragged across the sky too quickly. I got a second image in the video camera showing the moon had moved away from the star as predicted. You can't beat that for proof. Deimos is a dark asteroid like moon less than 10 miles across. It's like seeing a city as far away as Mars! All of this totally obscured by the glare from the planet itself. I was lucky it was between the diffraction spikes. I only saw it after averaging the photos - it is the inner dot, right of the slightly trailed dot close to Mars. I overlayed a set of 1/3200 second exposures on top of a set of 1 second exposures, at ISO 400 on the modified Canon 1000D. Right, now for Phobos - even closer. I'm really not sure that will be possible, but I'm gonna give it a shot with what I've got.