Monday, October 29, 2012

Dual Green Flashes at Sunset

While on vacation in southern California I decided to attempt to capture something off the beaten path.  I set up my camera just before sunset each evening, trying to catch a green flash.  I had no real expectations, and only took advantage of the timing each night because it just so happened to line up with beachfront activities and dinners with friends.  Three evenings in a row I attempted with no success.  On the fourth evening I shot video and still shots of sunset and caught something I would have never anticipated.  As chance would have it I captured TWO green flashes in one sunset, within a fraction of an instant of each other.  They lasted maybe a second or two, each.  Below shows the sunset sequence out of the still shots, followed by a video clip of the sunset.  The full frame shots can be blown up to 2048x1365 by clicking the images, or accessing them on my flickr site. 

Click Here to go to Flickr set


The video clip on Youtube can be blown up to 1080P for full screen HD viewing.  (You may note a couple of hesitations in the video at the green flashes - 25 sec, 40-41 sec - they are from using my Canon T3i while capturing in video mode, then using the frame capture ability to snap still shots while running a video sequence.  Because the shutter actuates and the camera has to buffer and store the still shot during this action it causes the minor hesitation.  However, on the plus side, the hesitation gives you an extra moment to see the flashes in the video.

No post processing has been applied to any of the images or video (with the exception of the two cropped shots for scaling purposes only).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Manual Lunar Mosaic

Manual Daytime Mosaic, hand tracked and imaged at 1200mm FL with an XT6i dob, and a NexImage5 CCD @ 7FPS - 30 sec per panel. 50 frames per panel stacked. 32 panels manually combined and derotated in Photoshop CS6 64bit. Curves, Contrast adjustments only. Scaled down to about 25% of original size for upload purposes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cygnus, Cassiopeia - Vixen Polarie

Test shots last night using the Polarie and modified T1i.  Cassiopeia, Cygnus.  All of them about 1 hour worth of 120 sec subs, no calibration files.  Stacked in DSS and processed in Photoshop CS6 64bit.  Sorry about the terrible compression artifacts, I'll probably upload higher resolution versions elswhere to reduce artifacts.

Cygnus - North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula, Sadr Hydrogen cloud, Veil SNR, Sadr.

Cassiopeia - Heart and Soul Nebulas, Pacman Nebula, Double Cluster.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Built a Polarie Travel Case

I finally had enough of carrying my Polarie gear in multiple soft bags, with everything being tossed in randomly.  It seemed to me that it carried a certain amount of risk of something impacting the bag and damaging the equipment inside, especially on road trips when it's thrown in the back of the vehicle with other luggage.  I had a pair of spare aluminum tool cases and decided to modify one.  Here's pictures of the results.  It now holds the following safely -
  • DSLR body
  • Spare Lense
  • 3 USB cables (polarie, laptop, camera)
  • AC adapter (DSLR)
  • XPS Laptop
  • Laptop power supply
  • Power strip
  • Power inverter
  • Flashlight and filters
  • DSLR Battery charger
  • Polarie
  • Polar Scope
  • Extra camera ball head
  • DC port replicator
  • Spare batteries
  • 8x8 tarp
Only thing I haven't sorted out is where to put the tripod, but that's easy enough to throw in a tube with a strap and carry it on my back.  Nothing shifts around, and the inserts are fully foam padded, as are all walls of the case.  Laptop and some of the extras fit in the top half of the case (removable padded panel.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Toy - NexImage 5 Planetary Cam

I haven't posted much recently due to fires, monsoon weather, and work.  This is dangerous for an Astrophotographer since it allows more idle time to window shop goodies online.  Well, that's what I did, and I bought a NexImage 5 as a result.  I don't usually do planetary/solar imaging as I prefer deep sky, but, it offers an opportunity for quick imaging sessions day, and night, and between clouds to fill the gap.  I had a lot of fun with my QHY-5 and sort of miss the occasional lunar session.  DSO imaging probably won't resume for me until September when monsoons break up so I figured I'd pass the time by changing gears.  Anyway, here's the pics for those who are curious.  If I get a break in the clouds this evening I will give it a first light run on Saturn.  It has a reasonably fast frame rate and seemingly decent acquisition software with lots of resolution, RIO, and gain settings from tinkering indoors, but we will see how it does in the field.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The fires are out of control this year.

We're still contending with the Whitewater-Baldy fire (several hundred thousand acres burned so far), the Little Bear fire (tens of thousands of acres), one north of Santa Fe, another just north of my home, and now, this one that I just drove through.  It's raging up through the valley right now and growing.  It's near the main gas lines and is nearing numerous structures.  The pics below were shot from a vantage point in front of my house, looking just under 6 miles East.  The fire only started an hour or so prior to these shots that I grabbed going home. 
We are in a severe drought and everything in that valley area is just fuel for the fire.  No rain in sight, and intermittent high winds.  We have 3% humidity, 100 degree temps, and the winds are expected to reach 25mph with gusts up to 50mph starting tonight/tomorrow.  As you can imagine, this kind of thing obviously kills astrophotography, but in our case out here, it has a tendency to destroy a lot of lives.  Now we're praying because fires that start in the Bosque as we call it tend to rage out of control quite fast.  It's spread I'd guess about 4-5 miles in one direction, and it has hopped the valley from one side of the river to the other, so maybe a mile or so wide, and growing fast.  Winds will shift towards my home by the early AM.  I'll shoot more pics tonight and in the morning to get an idea of how much ground the fire has gained or lost.

Monday, June 11, 2012


One last reprocess of my favorite object.  28 hours total integration time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Venus Transit

Took about 7 GB of data so far of the Venus Transit.  Here's a quick still shot I took through the dobsonian.  Working on processing the high resolution stuff from my other camera system right now.  More to come.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Timelapse - Solar Eclipse - Chaco NM

Here's a 640x480 timelapse of the Eclipse from Chaco Canyon, NM.  Having a slight framing/alignment issue within the blog itself, I recommend breaking it out seperate and watching in YouTube directly @ 480p settings in the default frame size.  I'm working on a non-compressed, higher res version which I'll post when completed. 

Direct URL - Solar Eclipse Timelapse - YouTube link

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Milky Way project round 2

Milky Way Mosaic - 2 tiles
Adding more to the effort, here's two tiles combined. 

Captured with Canon T1i (full spectrum modified# @ ISO 800
Canon EF50mm @ F/4.5
8x240 sec each tile, no calibration files
Stacked in DSS

Collaborative processing efforts in conjunction with Robert Farrimond (zerro1) and Salvatore Grasso (SGT500).
More to follow as additional tiles are stitched in.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Start of Milky Way Mosaic - Sagittarius Cloud

The night after the Solar Eclipse at Chaco Canyon, I decided to stay up and work on my summer Milky Way project.  I shot 6 panels that night.  Decided to process a few seperately to see how it would turn out.  Here's the result. 

Captured with Modified T1i @ ISO 800
50mm EF lense @ F/4.5
8 x 240 sec, no calibration files
Tracked on Vixen Polarie
Stacked in DSS
Post processed in Photoshop 7
I hope to have the full project completed soon.  Stay tuned for more.
(Image also posted here -

Monday, May 21, 2012

Annular Eclipse - Chaco Canyon May 20, 2012

My daughter Aurora, my parents, and I planned a trip to Chaco Canyon, NM for the Annular Eclipse.  The trip was fantastic.  We set up my modified DSLR on the Polarie with a telephoto lense and solar modifications for a timelapse.  We also leveraged Aurora's 6" Dob and attached a white light filter, and two other camera rigs.  In total we captured well over 1100 images, a few dozen video segments, and 10GB of data in all (after weeding out the rejects).  The skies were perfect, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.  I'll add that a number of these shots were taken by Aurora who is barely 8 yrs old.

Chaco was packed.  So much so, that the rangers were towing vehicles out, locking down parking, and making people shuttle in to the canyon sites.  We set up at the western-most designated viewing area in the Canyon.  Countless dozens of people lined up to view through our telescopes and watch the eclipse through the live screens.  We helped people take pictures of the eclipse afocally using their digicams, smartphones, etc.  Many people got involved with us making our "trick/illusion" photos as time went on.  One gentleman helped us stage a trick shot using his welders #14 glass plate - included below.  Aurora and I also began building ad-hoc solar projection cameras for people and showing them how to cast eclipse shadows using various methods - including a few Pringles cans we brought with us.  At maximum, the temp dropped approximately 10 degrees F.  What we had waited for was the sunset.  The eclipse was waning still, but crossed behind the far canyon wall, with formations and vegetation showing up as silhouettes against the sun.  Sunspots, and lunar mountain ridges were clearly visible through the Dob, and showed up clearly in some of our images.  It was simply amazing.

I hope you enjoy the images as much as we enjoyed them.  More to come as I finish processing them.