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/

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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.

Imaging Orion’s Nebula: Three days of Clarity

During the month of March, I was able to take advantage of the clear skies in three different days to image Orion’s nebula.

The First Day

On March 11, 2015, I tried imaging Orion’s Nebula (M42) it was a good night. I was able to get a few shots of M42 before it went below my house. I hoped I could get more pictures of M42, but before I could, it went behind my house. I was out of luck.

I proceed to image Jupiter with my DSLR camera. I took a lot of frames, but the quality of those frames were very bad. I couldn’t stack them to get a good picture. 😦 Maybe things will turn out better next time.

IMG_4583 IMG_5160

The Second Day

On March 13, 2015, I tried to image M42 again. It was a clear night, and I took some more pictures. I set my camera to image M42 for a while. I got the pictures, but I realize that while it was taking the pictures, M42 set behind my house. The majority of my pictures were of my house in the dark. Sadly, I had to delete those pictures.

After the M42 failure, I started imaging Jupiter again, and I failed to get any good frames.

IMG_5308 IMG_5372

The Last Day

Stay tuned for my next post, where I will talk about the last day of my M42 imaging days… For Now.

Astronomical Events for April 2015

Hello everybody,

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

       Astronomical Events

  • April 4: The third of four total lunar eclipses will occur at 12:01. It is best seen in Eastern Asia, the Pacific regions, and the Americas. Don’t miss it!
  • April 8: Mercury will pass 0.5 degrees of Uranus at approximately 11:00.
  • April 21: The Moon will occult Aldebaran. It is best seen in Northern Asia at approximately 16:57 UTC.
  • April 22: The Lyrid meteor shower will take place peaking at 24:00 (12:00 AM). It is best seen in Northern Europe.

That’s all for this month.

On April 22, 2015, at the Ontario Science Centre, in Toronto, Ontario, I will be giving a presentation about my journey as an amateur astrophotographer. If you are interested in attending, come to the Ontario Science Centre at 7:00 pm, to see the presentation. I hope to see you all there.

 

Have a great day, and keep looking up! You never know what you will see up there.

 

 

WORK CITED

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