Thursday, July 30, 2015

#5 - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - ISS, more photo attempts

We watched the ISS flyover!  It was pretty high in the sky, and transitted for like 6 minutes.  I almost caught a glimpse in the telescope as it dipped below the trees – it was hard to keep up with.  Anton caught a few glimpses.  I also got a long-exposure photo of it flying across the frame.  
Overhead passage of the International Space Station!
Nikon D3100, 55mm @ f/6.3, 30s, ISO-400

The moon was nearly full, so we could only really look at planets and stars.  We also looked at:
  • ·         The Double Cluster
  • ·         Double star Mizar – its twin was very close, but resolvable at not too high of magnification, and pretty bright as well. [Mizar/Alcor is the second star from the end of the handle of the Big Dipper.]
  • ·         M7, Ptolemy's Cluster – very pretty arrangement of stars with the 25 mm eyepiece.  You can see some of the star colors with the telescope, and more colors with a 10 second exposure on the camera.
Single exposure on M7, Ptolemy's Cluster.
Nikon D3100 on my C8 (shorthand for the 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain), 5s, ISO-1600

We also set up the camera on my tripod to look down through the eyepiece, and had some success getting higher magnification photos of Saturn this way.  I’ll try using the camera attachment Anton got for me sometime in the future so that I can take long-exposure shots that will move with the telescope.  It’s just really hard to set up.  The photos are still pretty blurry, though.  I now have a 7 Ah lead-acid battery as the power source, and that seems to have solved the problem of the telescope ‘getting lost.’  It performs perfectly all evening now.  Yay!

A rather blurry attempt at Saturn, aiming down through an eyepiece (I didn't specify which one in my original log).
Nikon D3100 on the C8, 30mm @ f/5, 1s, ISO-800




Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#4 - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The moon was so bright that I barely needed my red headlamp.  It was blinding in the telescope without the neutral density filter, which we quickly put on.  I got some great pictures of the moon.  We also looked at:
  • M6, the Butterfly Cluster – very pretty group of stars, and color is easily visible in the 10-second exposure photos I took.  Finally figured out how to focus the telescope with my camera attached.
  • Altair and its nearby neighbors.  Altair is a pretty bright star that I’ve ended up using several times for alignment.
  • I think we looked at Neptune, but it was difficult to tell whether the bright dot I was looking at was actually Neptune or not.
I also took some 5-10 second exposures of the sky and trees with my camera on its tripod, and the moon was so bright that it looked like day but with stars.  The sky was blue and the trees green.  I even took a picture of my moonshadow.  I finally have a dew shield now for the telescope, and while there was still some dew on the corrector plate by the end of the night, it took much longer than usual.  We still had trouble with the telescope behaving erratically, though, so we didn’t get to look at much that we couldn’t find ourselves.

[I later learned that this seemingly erratic behavior - bad gotos, other issues - was because I was running the NexStar mount off of its internal AA batteries, which it runs down very quickly!]

Daytime with stars??
Nikon D3100, 18mm @ f/4.5, 20s, ISO-1600.







Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#3 - Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - First image through the scope

[I took a group of my friends out to a nearby state park.]
We looked at the Moon through the telescope for the first time, wow what a sight!!  Looking at it when it’s not full is definitely a treat, the shadows increase contrast on the craters and it looks really cool.  I can’t get the whole Moon in a single camera shot, however, when I’m using my camera directly attached to the telescope with my new T-adapter.  With the 32 mm eyepiece, I can see the whole thing in one view.  I put the T-adapter on the 2x Barlow lens to make Saturn bigger, but there was so much moisture in the air that the picture was especially grainy and dim.  It was dark enough though that I got some great pictures of the Milky Way with my camera.  

I suppose this qualifies as my first astrophoto!  It's a single frame, taken on my Nikon D3100, 1/125s, ISO-400.

The aforementioned Milky Way photo I took at the park.  Nikon D3100, 18mm @ f/4.5, 15s, ISO-3200.

Next post: #4 - Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Previous post: #2 - Sunday, July 12, 2015


Table of Contents





Sunday, July 12, 2015

#2 - Sunday, July 12, 2015

It was cloudier than the Clear Sky forecast predicted [Clear Sky is a great astronomer's forecast, although it is only updated once every 12 hours.  http://www.cleardarksky.com], but we could still see some stars in the northern sky.  In the southern sky, there were clouds with nearly constant lightning far away.   The clouds cleared out at around 11 PM.  We looked at Saturn with some higher magnification, which did make it bigger but fuzzier.  We [my friend Anton and I] tried to find some other objects, but the telescope would get near it, and then just keep moving somewhat slowly for a long time.  It also tried to rotate up and over.  So I mostly took long exposure pictures of the sky with my camera.  We were out until almost 2 AM.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

#1 - Friday, July 10, 2015 - First light!

[I was given my first telescope - a Celestron NexStar 8SE - the week prior to my first trip out with it.  It is an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector on a computerized, tracking alt-az mount.]
What a telescope to have as my first!

First trip!  After failing to align the telescope after three or four attempts, we finally figured out that I wasn’t entering the correct time zone.   During alignment, I didn’t have it focused yet, but after we got it aligned, we looked at Saturn, and I brought it into focus, and there it was!  It was so amazing to see, this tiny object hanging in space that you’ve seen pictures of so many times, but somehow seeing it with your own eyes makes it completely real.  Also looked at Pluto, which was just a dot.  [In retrospect, we probably couldn't really distinguish which dot of light it was among the starfield, but given a good alignment, it may have indeed been in the viewfinder.]  Everything was soaking wet by the end of the evening, and the corrector plate was covered in dew.





Thursday, July 9, 2015

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Welcome!
I generally have two types of posts - tutorials and log entries.  Navigating them in the little sidebar Blogger provides can be difficult, especially since the first two years of log entries weren't posted when I created them (I started this blog two years into my hobby), so here is hopefully an easier way.  It runs from newest to oldest.

Also, I have a store on Zazzle!

You can find me on social media as well:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/astronomolly
Instagram: @astronomolly_images (www.instagram.com/astronomolly_images)

Video Tutorials

Introduction to PixInsight: Complete Workflow on NGC 1333

Tutorials

Coming Soon: Planetary Image Processing
Coming Soon: Image Processing 3.0: One-Shot Color Images in PixInsight

Log Entries

2021

2020


2019

#267 - Tuesday, December 31, 2019 - A 2017 Comet in 2019
#266 - Monday, December 30, 2019
#265 - Thursday, December 19, 2019 - Star Wars
#264 - Monday, December 16, 2019
#263 - Sunday, December 15, 2019 - Surprise!
#262 - Saturday, December 14, 2019 - Rain Rain Go Away!
#261 - Sunday, December 8, 2019 - Finally!
#260 - Monday, November 25, 2019 - Some New Targets
#259 - Sunday, November 24, 2019 - Collimation Nation
#258 - Saturday, November 23, 2019 - Growing Pains
#257 - Friday, November 22, 2019 - T-Pointing
#256 - Thursday, November 21, 2019 - Working out the kinks...as usual
#255 - Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - A Special Project
#254 - Monday, November 18, 2019 - First Night with the Paramount MyT
#253 - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - Setting Up the Mighty MyT
2019 Advanced Imaging Conference
#252 - Monday, November 11, 2019 - The Transit of Mercury
#251 - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - California Dreamin'
#250 - Saturday, November 9, 2019 - Meridian Madness
#249 - Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - Catching an Eruptive Nova
#248 - Monday, November 4, 2019 - One Can Only Have So Much Good Luck
#247 - Sunday, November 3, 2019 - Keep On Truckin'
#246 - Saturday, November 2, 2019 - The Problems Continue
#245 - Friday, November 1, 2019 - Lots of Little Problems
#244 - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - A Spooktacular Evening
#243 - Wednesday, October 30, 2019
#242 - Tuesday, October 29, 2019
#241 - Sunday, October 27, 2019 - Collaboration
#240 - Friday, October 25, 2019 - Smoked Out, Day 2
#239 - Thursday, October 24, 2019 - Smoked Out
#238 - Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - More AVX Tweaks
#237 - Tuesday, October 22, 2019
#236 - Monday, October 21, 2019 - Long Exposure
#235 - Sunday, October 20, 2019
#234 - Saturday, October 19, 2019
#233 - Friday, October 18, 2019 - Refinements
#232 - Thursday, October 17, 2019
#231 - Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - Just Another Night
#230 - Friday, October 11, 2019
#229 - Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - Luck of the ISS-ish
#228 - Monday, October 7, 2019 - Focus Pocus
#227 - Sunday, October 6, 2019 - Outreach Again!
#226 - Saturday, October 5, 2019 - Target of Opportunity
#225 - Friday, October 4, 2019 - Odd Happenings
#223 & #224 - Wed & Thu, October 2-3, 2019 - Another Sleepful Night
#222 - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - Well, It Could've Been Worse
#221 - Monday, September 30, 2019 - I'm Still Up Late Sometimes!
#220 - Sunday, September 29, 2019 - Camera Swap
#219 - Saturday, September 28, 2019 - The Real Party is After Dark
#218 - Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - More Stuff I Need to Fix
#217 - Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - Smooth Sailing
#216 - Monday, September 23, 2019 - Continuous Process Improvement
#215 - Sunday, September 22, 2019 - Unnoteworthy
#214 - Saturday, September 21, 2019 - Computer Swap
#213 - Friday, September 20, 2019 - Routine
#212 - Thursday, September 19, 2019 - New Targets
#211 - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - Back in Action
#210 - Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - Curse You, Moon!
#209 - Monday, September 9, 2019 - It's All Coming Together
#208 - Sunday, September 8, 2019 - Automation Nation
#207 - Saturday, September 7, 2019 - Chugging Along
#206 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - Backyardathon
#205 - Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - Working Out the Bugs, Part 2
#204 - Monday, September 2, 2019 - Working Out the Bugs
#203 - Sunday, September 1, 2019 - Handywoman Skills
#202 - Saturday, August 31, 2019 - New Digs!
#201 - Saturday, August 3, 2019 - Final Members Night
#200 - Friday, August 2, 2019 - Outdoor Outreach
#199 - Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - New Scope!
#198 - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - Last Dark Night of the Atacama
#197 - Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - Shooting with an Astro-DSLR
#196 - Monday, July 8, 2019 - High-Tech Star Hopping
#195 - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - With My Own Eyes
#194 - Saturday, July 6, 2019 - In the Atacama Desert
#193 - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - Solar Eclipse in Chile
#192 - Sunday, June 30, 2019 - Southern Skies from Mamalluca Observatory
#191 - Sunday, June 29, 2019 - First Peak at the Southern Sky!
#190 - Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - Star Tours
#189 - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - Jupiter Double-Shadow Transit
#188 - Monday, June 10, 2019 - Finally, Some Outreach!
Texas Star Party 2019 Summary
#187 - Friday, May 3, 2019 - Baggin' Targets: Texas Star Party Night #6
#186 - Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - The Long Night: Texas Star Party Night #4
#184 - Monday, April 29, 2019 - At Last, Some Success: Texas Star Party Night #2
#183 - Sunday, April 28, 2019 - A Perilous Night! Texas Star Party Night #1
#182 - Monday, April 15, 2019 - Pre-Texas Star Party Checkout
#181 - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - Fuzzy Colors
#180 - Sunday, March 31, 2019 - In like a lion, out like a lamb
#179 - Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - Finally, a little success!
#178 - Saturday, March 23, 2019 - If it's not one thing, it's another
#177 - Monday, March 11, 2019 - Sharing the Love
#176 - Sunday, January 20, 2019 - Lunar Eclipse!
#175 - Saturday, January 5, 2019 - Winter Fun
#174 -Thursday, January 3, 2019 - A Cloudy Start to the New Year

2018

#173 - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - The Moon and the Library
#172 - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - A Rude Fog
#171 - Monday, December 10, 2018 - Can't Get Lucky Twice
#170 - Sunday, December 9, 2018 - Back After a Long, Cloudy Hiatus
#169 - Saturday, November 10, 2018 - I'm Not Ready for Winterrrrrrr
#168 - Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - Weeknight Warrior
#167 - Monday, October 29, 2018 - Little Green Planets
#166 - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - Winter is Coming
#165 - Sunday, October 7, 2018 - Chasing Clear Skies
#164 - Saturday, October 6, 2018 - Imaging Through Fog & Sog at Hidden Hollow (Night 3)
#163 - Friday, October 5, 2018 - A Foggy Night at Hidden Hollow (and I fixed my mount!!)
#162 - Thursday, October 4, 2018 - First Soggy Night of Hidden Hollow
#161 - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - The Comet and the Supernova
#160 - Thursday, September 13, 2018 - Back to the Borg
#159 - Sunday, September 2, 2018 - Just For Fun
#158 - Saturday, September 1, 2018 - Labor Day Weekend Labors
#157 - Thursday, August 23, 2018 - Back to Basics
#156 - Sunday, August 19, 2018 - Astronomy Merit Badge
#155 - Saturday, August 18, 2018 - Could Somebody Invent Some Darn Cloud Filters Already?
#154 - Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - Passing It On
#153 - Saturday, August 11, 2018 - Failure Just Makes Room for Future Success
#152 - Saturday, August 4, 2018 - Testing the Lumicon Off-Axis Guider
My First Date with PixInsight
#151 - Friday, July 13, 2018 - "Coffee, Enthusiasm, and Sheer Willpower"
#150 - Thursday, July 12, 2018 - Hardcore Astronomer
#149 - Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - Finally, A Little Sleep
#148 - Monday, July 9, 2018 - National Youth Science Camp Night #2
#147 - Sunday, July 8, 2018 - National Youth Science Camp Night #1
#146 - Saturday, July 7, 2018 - Configuration Experimentation
#145 - Friday, July 6, 2018 - A Colorful Black Eye
#144 - Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - Mars in the Wee Hours
#143 - Friday, June 15, 2018 - I'll Take my Chances
#142 - Friday, May 25, 2018 - Dancin' in the moonlight
#141 - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - Finally, some good atmosphere
Texas Star Party 2018 Summary: Walking in the Light of the Stars
#140 - Friday, May 11, 2018 - Sleep Deprivation - Texas Star Party Night #6
#139 - Thursday, May 10, 2018 - I'll Take What I Can Get - Texas Star Party Night #5
#138 - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - ♫Deep in the daaaaaaark of Texas!♪ Texas Star Party Night #4
#137 - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - Persist! Texas Star Party Night #3
#136 - Monday, May 7, 2018 - Texas Star Party Night #2
#135 - Sunday, May 6, 2018 - On the Road Again!
#134 - Sunday, April 29, 2018 - Pre-TSP Gear Checkout
#133 - Friday, April 27, 2018 - At the Mercy of the Atmosphere
#132 - Thursday, April 26, 2018 - More library telescope outreach!
#131 - Friday, April 20, 2018 – Astronomy Night with the Brownies
#130 - Thursday, April 19, 2018 – Eye of the Needle (and Utility of the Refrigerator)
#129 - Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - Library Telescope Program
#128 - Thursday, March 15, 2018 - The Clear Skies Call, and I Must Go
#127 - Saturday, March 10th, 2018 - Daylight Saving Time, and Other Tales of Woe
#126 - Friday, March 2, 2018 - Curing Cabin Fever
#125 - February 20th, 2018 - See Stars While Seeing the Stars!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Liftoff! (Read Me First!)

Greetings Earthlings!

This is the first post of my AstronoMolly Images blog, which I've set the date to be a few days before my first log entry so as to be in chronological order, but was written in reality on July 6, 2017.

I got into astrophotography in August 2015, shortly after receiving my first telescope and gazing at the glory of Saturn with my friends.  It was so amazing, I just *had* to share it with everyone! The less than two years it has been from trying to take a picture through the eyepiece with my camera on a tripod to winning my first astrophotography award have been meteoric and absolutely amazing.  Enough of my friends and acquaintances enjoy my images and are curious about my process that I've decided to finally put a public face on my hobby and share my successes, failures, lessons learned, and the incredible things that exist out there in the universe with the world.

Looking through my dewey 8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain on my third trip out.

I've kept an astronomy log since day 1, a moment of foresight for which I am eternally grateful.  I'll start out this blog by jumping all the way back to my first log entry, and then fill in subsequent posts with all of my log entries up to the present.  Then you'll get to stay current with my new images, tricks, experiments, and adventures.  Interspersed throughout will be tutorials on how to actually do all of these super cool astrophotography things.

Enjoy your journey to outer space through what is essentially a massive camera lens!

-Molly

Note: I am preserving my log entries mostly as written.  Added notes and context will generally be in square brackets.