New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto

Yesterday was a momentous occasion. July 14, 2015, will forever be known as the day New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto. The closest it got to Pluto was 12,500 km from the surface, at 7:49 am EDT. At that time, 1,200+ executives, scientists, and guests counted down as it reached its closest approach. Later that night, the very same people cheered as they heard back from the intrepid explorer, signalling that it is safe and out of harms way. It is now moving away from Pluto at breathtaking speeds, marking humanity’s first encounter with the last unexplored traditional Solar System planet.

The picture below is one of many pictures it brought back for us, which revealed its unique surface features for the first time after many years of secrecy. Check it out:

Today, an image will be released by NASA showing a picture of Pluto up close and personal. I can’t wait!

Congratulations to the many people who worked on New Horizons ! ‪#‎PlutoFlyby‬

Astronomical Events for July 2015

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of July: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • July 2: Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina may reach binocular visibility.
  • July 6: Earth will reach aphelion at 13:00 UTC.
  • July 6: Pluto will reach opposition with Earth at 15:00 UTC.
  • July 12: The Moon will occult Aldebaran. It is best seen in North-eastern Asia at ~18:17 UTC.
  • July 14: The New Horizons Probe will reach its closest approach to Pluto.  New Horizons is the first probe to make a close approach to Pluto, and send back images to Earth.
  • July 19: The Moon occults Venus. It is best seen in the South Pacific at ~1:07 UTC.
  • July 25: Asteroid 49 Pales occults a +6.6 Magnitude star. It is best seen at 10:55 UTC in Mexico.
  • July 28: The Delta Aquarids peak at this time.
  • July 31: A Blue Moon will occur. This is the second Full Moon of the Month. This is the opposite of a Black Moon.

 

 

 

WORK CITED

http://www.universetoday.com/116461/the-top-101-astronomical-events-to-watch-for-in-2015/

What I’ve Been Up To

Hi Everyone,

Notwithstanding my update for June’s astronomical events, I’ve been absent for the whole month of May. That is because it’s been a busy month for me. Here’s a bit of an update of what I’ve been up to from April 22 to now.

On April 22, 2015, I delivered my presentation about my experience as an amateur astronomer that day. Throughout the presentation, I talked about the photos I took, honestly, and with a little bit of humour. It was well received by the audience.  I hope to follow that up with another presentation a few years down the line.

On April 28, 2015, I discovered the wonders of BackyardEOS. It’s a program that uses your DSLR camera like a CCD Camera. It was really effective as an imaging device, and as a focusing device. I got a few pictures like this using BackyardEOS.

Jupiter_EOS_Test_Tv1-30s_800iso_1024x688_20150428-21h23m00s_Stacked_EOS_Histo

On May 8, 2015, It was a clear night, and I felt like taking another startrails image. Therefore, I made another startrails image from my backyard. I used over 700 frames, 5”, f/4.5, ISO-800. It turned out really well.

StarStaX_IMG_0587-IMG_1333_gap_filling

From May 20-24, 2015, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the International Space Development Conference (ISDC). It was a great experience as I made met many heavyweights in the aerospace industry, gained valuable experience, and made many new friends. I had a great time. In addition, I was able to get this startrails image from the heart of downtown Toronto. I took over 1043 frames to get this image. Each frame were 3” exposure, f/5.6, ISO-1600. It was a long image, but it was worth it. Next year’s ISDC will take place in Puerto Rico. Who knows, maybe I’ll be there…

StarStaX_IMG_8100-IMG_7059_gap_filling

This image was a difficult one to capture. I needed to balance how much light I would capture, while still capturing the movement of the stars. Too much exposure captured the light pollution of the city. Too little and the stars won’t show up. That’s why I chose 3″ exposure, because it wouldn’t capture too much light, while still capture the stars. f/5.6 to reduce the amount of light pollution captured, and ISO-1600 because we need to capture enough light.

 

That is what I’ve been up to these days. Thank You for everyone’s support. Sorry for the sporadic blog posts. Keep looking up, you never know what you’ll find up there.

Astronomical Events for June 2015

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of June: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • June 1: The ISS will reach full illumination, which means Northern Hemisphere observers will be able to see it many times.
  • June 4: Io and Ganymede will cause a double-transit on Jupiter, which will occur from 4:54 to 6:13.
  • June 5: Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation for 2015. It will be at most 45 degrees from when the sun at 16:00.
  • June 10: Asteroid 424 Gratia will occult a +6.1 magnitude star. It will occur at approximately 15:10 in Northwest Australia.
  • June 15: The Moon will occult Mercury at approximately 2:26. It’s best seen at the South Indian Ocean.
  • June 15: The Moon will occult Aldebaran during the day approximately 11:33. It’s best seen in the high Arctic.
  • June 16: Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS may become visible with the naked eye.
  • June 21: The summer solstice will happen at 10:51. Northern Hemisphere observers will experience the longest day of the year.
  • June 24: Mercury reaches its greatest morning elongation at 22.5 degrees west of the sun. This will take place at 17:00.

 

 

 

WORK CITED

http://www.universetoday.com/116461/the-top-101-astronomical-events-to-watch-for-in-2015/

Astronomical Events for May 2015

Hello everybody,

Here are the astronomical events occurring in the month of May: (All times are given in UTC format)

       Astronomical Events

  • May 5: The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will peak.
  • May 7: Mercury will reach its highest point at 21.2 degrees away from the sun. It will start to descend back into the sun at this point.
  • May 19: The Moon will occult Aldebaran at approximately 2:53 UTC. It is best seen in North America.
  • May 20: Comet C/2014 Q1 PANSTARRS may become visible in binoculars.
  • May 20: Io and Ganymede will cast their shadows on Jupiter in a double-transit event at  22:04 – 22:53.
  • May 21: Callisto and Europa will also cast their shadows on Jupiter in another double-transit event at 11:26 – 11:59.
  • May 23: Saturn reaches opposition at approximately 1:00.
  • May 24: Asteroid 1669 Dagmar will occult Regulus at approximately 16:47. Best seen in the Arabian Peninsula. This will be the brightest asteroid star occultation in 2015.
  • May 28: Ganymede and Io will cast their shadows again in a double-transit event at 00:01 to 2:18.
  • May 30: Comet 19/Borrelly may become visible with binoculars.

 

 

 

WORK CITED

http://www.universetoday.com/116461/the-top-101-astronomical-events-to-watch-for-in-2015/

Death of MESSENGER

In two days, the fuel-exhausted MESSENGER probe will crash into Mercury, leaving behind its own crater. This will be the end of an era, as the inner solar system will no longer have any probes actively studying the inner planets.

Before it’s death, MESSENGER gave us one last picture:

MESSENGER’s last pic of Mercury

This image was taken using the Visual and Infrared Spectrometer to bring out the craters and mountains present in Mercury. Despite its loss, it has done a lot of work for us: It found evidence of frozen water found in areas of permanent shadow. It found an unidentified layer of material above the ice, which is suspected of being organic material. It discovered that Mercury has shrunk 7 km in radius since its creation.

It’s slated to hit Mercury on April 30. It will be behind Mercury, therefore, we won’t see its collision until much later. Goodbye MESSENGER.

WORK CITED

http://rt.com/news/253837-mercury-nasa-astonishing-images/

Imaging Orion’s Nebula: Long Sault

March 16-19 was RASC’s Dark Sky Party window. On March 17, RASC called a NO GO for the party due to the heavy winds. It was clear, but the winds were HEAVY! I was hoping that March 18 would have a GO call, because my schedule was well placed, and I could go to that event.

 

March 18, 5 pm:

I got RASC’s call, and it was a GO. The Star Party will take place that night. When I got home, I packed my car with all my telescope equipment, and drove off to Long Sault Conservation park (Long Sault).

Driving to Long Sault or Glen Major forest feels like a road trip. One passes through many small hamlets on the road to your destination, and you see how people live beyond Toronto. Homes are more open, commercial services are scarcer, and speed limits are higher. To drive to Long Sault takes 45 minutes to 1 hour, and I arrive at Long Sault at 9 pm.

 

March 18, 9 pm:

When I get there, a lot of interested astronomers, guests, and astrophotographers were already there imaging and observing the night sky. Looking up, the sky is very different from home, and from Glen Major Forest. The sky is clearer, and constellations are more visible from here.

I meet some of the other guests and members there. Some were observing Jupiter, others were imaging various Deep Sky Objects (DSO’s), and some were observing other objects in the night sky. Soon after, I start to assemble my telescope, which didn’t take a lot of time.

I aligned my telescope to two stars. Usually, my selection of stars is limited at home due to location, and visibility of stars. Out in Long Sault, the limitations of my selection of stars are what’s in the telescope’s computer. After aligning my telescope to the stars, I pointed my telescope to Orion’s Nebula, and I set my telescope to image M42 for 75 frames. Some frames that I took looked like this:

IMG_5434

1 frame of M42; 14․7″ exposure, f/10, ISO-1600

 

While my telescope was doing its work. I was meeting other fellow amateur astronomers. I did meet a fellow amateur astrophotographer I was corresponding with on the Yahoo e-mail list. I saw his set-up, equipment, and images. They were spectacular.

Once the camera was finished imaging M42, I put the telescope cover on, and started taking dark frames, so I could subtract the noise from the image.

My feet beccame very cold, and I had to get into my car many times to warm up. I couldn’t turn on the car, because the exhaust would interfere with my telescope. At 11 pm, most of the astronomers packed up and have started their journey home. At that time, I also started packing up my equipment. I finished what I wanted to do, and I was ready to go home. It took me 10 minutes to pack and to make sure I didn’t forget anything. When I was ready, I started driving home.

I got home at 1:30 am, taking a break between my driving to rest and think about what I imaged that night. Unfortunately, I have not been able to process all the images yet, as I am having trouble with the Deep Sky Stacker, and Registax.

Thank You everyone for reading. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Keep looking up, you never know what you will find up there.