Tracking Tricks that Work

On March 9th, my father and I brought the telescope out to test its tracking capabilities. We aligned it to two stars and pointed it at Jupiter. After applying some tricks, we checked back and saw that it had not moved from its position. My father was impressed by that, and we declared that “we are back on track.”

The reason why it worked is because, earlier, I read this forum post about tracking issues. It talked about how commercial grade telescopes are manufactured using spur gears rather than worm gears, which means the teeth of the gears have some space in between them. This can lead to significant drifting before the teeth mesh. The solution, according to the forum post is to slew the telescope to the right, and depending on its position, up or down (down is pre-meridian, up if post-meridian, adjust as necessary). I did that and it worked. =D

Jupiter stood straight in the center of the eyepiece, and it was beautiful. We tested it further by putting Jupiter near the edge of the eyepiece, and after a while, it didn’t move at all.

After all that testing, we decided to pack up the telescope. I didn’t take any pictures because the clouds were rolling in. It was a successful night, with tracking actually working. I’m thankful that it is actually working and I can say with certainty that I’m back in business! 😀

Catch The Latest Ardziv

Earlier today, the Armenian Youth Federation’s latest issue of Ardziv was released to the public. It featured articles from various contributors about Armenian Culture, the Armenian Genocide recognition efforts, and other editorials.

For this issue, I contributed an article about the history of Armenia’s involvement in the advancement of Astronomy focusing on two major Astronomers in the Armenian SSR and their observatory. You can find that on Page 15 in the link below.

In addition, I was surprised and humbled to see one of my images used as the cover image for this issue of Ardziv. It is a startrails image I took from my backyard. The image is made up of 516 frames, each frame was exposed for 5″, at f/5, and ISO-1600.

The link to the latest issue of Ardziv is below:

I would like to thank all those who were involved in the production of this issue of Ardziv. Everyone did a great job. I’m happy to see my article published in this issue, and I am grateful that my image was featured as the cover image for this issue. I hope everyone enjoys this magazine.

 

Keep looking up. You never know what you will find.

 

WORKS CITED

Astronomical Events for March 2015

Hello everybody,

Happy New Year!

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

       Astronomical Events

  • March 1: Geosynchronous satellite eclipse season begins up until the equinox.
  • March 4: Venus passes 0.1 degrees from Uranus at approximately 18:00. This will be the closest planetary conjunction of the year.
  • Distance from Venus to Uranus from our Perspective.

  • March 5: The Moon will reach its full phase at 18:07, 10 hours before reaching apogee. This will be the smallest full moon of the year.
  • March 11: Mars passes 0.3 degrees from Uranus at approximately 16:00.
  • March 20: A total solar eclipse will occur. It will be best seen in the arctic, Scotland, and Scandinavia.
  • Path of Solar Eclipse

  • March 20: That day also marks the Vernal Equinox at 16:57. Roughly equal days between the North and South Hemispheres.
  • March 21: Moon will occult Mars at approximately 22:14. Best seen in South America.
  • March 25: Moon will occult Aldebaran at approximately 7:17. Best seen in Northwest North America.

 

 

 

WORK CITED

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

Planets Crossing Paths

I was at work when this event took place. Thankfully, I was able to take my break at a time where I could image the phenomenon.

My break began at 6:30 pm. The sun had already set and the sky had turned a dark blue. The air was a freezing -14 C, with  a slight breeze coming from the south. It was not intense, but could shake the camera. Streetlights illuminate the parking lot at my workplace. Thankfully, the streetlights won’t cause me any problems.

I started my car, and assembled the tri-pod. I quickly took my camera to the tripod, and set it to image the event, a conjunction of Venus, Mars, and a thin crescent moon.

I set my camera to image the conjunction at various exposures, keeping the aperture, and sensitivity constant. The exposure ranged from 2″ to 1/6″ exposures.

After 134 shots, at 6:55 pm, my break was nearing the end. Therefore, I packed up my camera, and went back inside at 7 pm. This brief, 30 minutes of imaging was a great success yielding a variety of images. Some were shaky, and slightly unfocused, but a few crisp images came through. Here they are:

IMG_4387

1/5″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO-800

IMG_4404

1/4″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO-800

IMG_4414

1″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO-800

IMG_4424

1/6″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO-800

Keep looking up, you never know what you will find.

Two Bright Planets

I finished work at 6 pm today. At that time, the sky was clear, the sun is already 6-12 degrees below the horizon and Venus and Jupiter were shining brightly. I look at both planets, located in opposite sides of the horizon, and they both appear so bright. I wondered why, and came up with an answer.

Venus is many times closer than Jupiter, but they look similar in brightness. The reason why is because Jupiter is bigger and we can see more of it. Jupiter’s mass and radius is 1.89E27 kg (317.8 Earth Masses), and 69,911 km, whereas Venus is only 4.867E24 (0.815 Earth Masses), and 6,052 km respectively. Clearly, Jupiter is the larger planet, but (at closest point) is 588 million km away. Venus is the smaller planet, but is only (at closest point) 38 million km away. This means that they look similar in brightness when compared to each other.

Here is another example:

The sun is 1.9891 × 1030 kg, and 695,500 km in mass and radius respectively. The Moon is 7.34767309 × 1022 kg large and 1,737.5 km in mass and radius respectively. The sun is (clearly) the larger of the two, but when you put them on top of each other, such as during a Solar Eclipse, they look very similar in size.

For both cases, their actual distances and diameters vary greatly, but their angular diameter is similar. The angular diameter is the diameter of an object from a certain frame of reference. For example, the Moon is 31.075 arcminutes across, and the sun is 32 arcminutes across. Very similar in angular size, but greatly varied across the cosmic distances.

The next time you see Venus and Jupiter in the sky or a solar eclipse, Look at how different they are, but how similar they look. It’s will surprise you.

 

Keep looking up. You never know what you will find up there.

 

WORKS CITED

Google Search

UniverseToday.com

Wikipedia

The North Celestial Pole…Visualized

On January 28, 2015, the sky was clear, and I took the time to image another startrails image. I aimed my camera at the sky towards Polaris, and I set my camera to image the night sky at 5″ exposure, f/5, ISO-1600. I had stacked over 516 frames to get this image.StarStaX_IMG_3040-IMG_3605_gap_filling
I was happy with this image. Sadly, that’s all I did that night as it was too cold, and I had work the next day. Until the next clear night:

Keep looking up! You never know what you will find up there.

Jupiter Troubles

On January 23, 2015, my father and I, with clouds flying over us, decided to go to Glen Major Forest to image the Jupiter Triple-Transit event. Sadly, it was completely overcast there, which disappointed us.

We soon drove back home, where we noticed that the clouds have started to thin, and Jupiter was visible through the clouds. Therefore, my father and I quickly assembled the telescope in the backyard, as well as my laptop to image Jupiter through my CCD Camera.

We were able to get a good video footage of the Jupiter Triple-transit event. Unfortunately, I have not been able to process them yet. The program, Registax, has been giving me runtime errors, which is preventing me from processing the video footage.

After we get the video, the clouds came in and ended our astronomy session. We packed up and got back inside.

It was a successful night. We got good video footage, but we have yet to process the images. I want to get the video processed soon, and I will contact the developers for help.

Keep Looking Up. You will never know what you will find out there.

Astronomical Events for February 2015

Hello everybody,

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

       Astronomical Events

  • February 1: Venus passes 0.8 degrees of Neptune. This occurs at approximately 17:00.
  • February 5: Earth crosses Jupiter’s equatorial plane, which means we are in the second half of occulation and eclipse season of Jupiter’s Moons.
  • February 6: Earth reaches opposition with Jupiter at approximately 18:00.
  • February 6: The Moon reaches its apogee of 406,200 km at 18:25.
  • February 18: The Moon is new. This Moon is also a Black Moon, where this will be the third New Moon in a season where four New Moons are normal.
  • February 20: The Moon, Venus, and Mars are in conjunction with each other. This meeting occurs at Dusk.
  • February 21: Venus passes 0.4 degrees south of Mars at Dusk. Moon will have moved away by then.
  • February 24: Mercury reaches greatest morning elongation at 26.7 degrees west of the sun. This will take place at 19:00.
  • February 25: The Moon will occult Aldebaran at 23:26 in Northern Europe.
  • February 25: Neptune is at conjunction with the Sun. Will not be visible until it comes out from the other side.

 Here is a look at Comet Lovejoy’s Path (Obtained from Bob Moler’s Ephemeris Blog)

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy reached it Perihelion two days ago, and will now move away from the Sun, and the Earth. It will lose its tail, and start to dim. This image was obtained from Bob Moler’s Ephemeris Blog.

 

 

Announcement: On April 22, 2015, I will be delivering a presentation at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Recreational Meetup, talking about my journey as an amateur astrophotographer. I hope you can all come to this event.

 

WORK CITED

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

https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/

Sky News Magazine – January/February Issue

 

WORK CONSULTED

http://astroguyz.com/2012/08/27/astro-event-whats-in-a-name-black-blue-moons-through-2020/

You Can See The Dark Side from Here

On January 22, 2015, the sky was very clear, and I saw a beautiful, thin, crescent Moon. In contrast with the surrounding sky, you could also see an outline of the whole moon, despite the fact it is mostly unilluminated. I imaged it using my father’s Telephoto lens, and the images turned out really well.

IMG_2815

2 Day old Crescent Moon 1/400″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600

 

IMG_2820

2 Day old Crescent Moon. Old Moon in New Moon’s Cradle. 1/3″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600

The image was so good, I wanted to take my telescope out and image it using that. The results were very good:

IMG_2861

2 Day Old Crescent Moon 1/30″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

IMG_2838

Is this a Dim Moon???

IMG_2828

Nope! It’s a 2 Day old Moon. Old Moon in New Moon’s Cradle. 1.6″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

IMG_2852

4.3″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

The resulting images were a great improvement compared to my earlier images. It was a sight to see the Moon so thin like that. However, something else caught my eye. A red star close to the Moon. I slewed to it, and took a few images:

IMG_2875

A don’t know what the star is beside it, but the red star looks like Mars. 10.1″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

After some time, after asking my father for help identifying it, my father told me that it was Mars. I was surprised to see Mars at this time. It was so far from Earth, that you wouldn’t be able to see anything from it. Nevertheless, it was a good image.

Sadly, the clouds started rolling in, and the Moon and Mars became obscured by a thick cloud, which ended my astronomy session. All this was in preparation for January 23/24’s event when Jupiter will do a triple-transit, and two of it’s Moon’s shadows merge. I still need to process the photos, so stay tuned.

A light polluted timelapse.

On January 20, 2015, the sky was clear. RASC had a plan for a star party at Long Sault Conservation park, but I had to get up early the next morning. Therefore, I had to miss it. Thankfully, I did not let the night go to waste. I took my camera and my father’s wide-angle lens and set the intervalometer to make a timelapse image. I would later make it into a star trails image.

Since my home is in a light polluted area, I had to expose for a shorter amount of time to compensate for the amount of light there is. I set the exposure for 5 seconds, at f/4, and ISO 1600. I left it out there for two hours and obtained over 719 frames for my image. The resulting image turned out to be a major success. The lines were crisp and clear, there were a few satellites and airplanes, and a beautiful set of stars trailing along the houses.

StarStaX_IMG_2118-IMG_2810_gap_filling2

Startrails Image: 693 frames 5″ exposure, f/5, ISO 1600

That was the only thing I did that night unfortunately. Nevertheless, I will continue exploring and imaging the night sky.