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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Attempts at Comet Lovejoy: Up on Cold Creek

On January 10, 2015, New Eyes Old Skies hosted an event at the Cold Creek Conservation Park. DDO Defenders astronomers and Ian Shelton and Tuba Koktay, in a heated building, presented to all the participants an overview of what to expect in the night sky during the month of January, and it was interesting. This month featured a visible Jupiter moving up the night sky; Venus, and Mercury coming close to each other; and a bright comet called Comet Lovejoy flying through the sky, getting better and better until the Moon comes back. The presentation successfully piqued the interest of many participants.

Before I arrived at Cold Creek Conservation Park, I drove up a hill in Markham where all of Markham was visible. There, I was able to image Venus and Mercury, although not in the same frame.

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Venus after Sunset. 1/125″ exp, f/10, ISO 1600

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Mercury after sunset. 1/15″ exp, f/10, ISO 1600

Coming into the park, it was completely overcast. By the end of Ian’s presentation, the sky cleared up enough to reveal the night sky. There were a few scattered clouds in the sky, but they quickly moved out of our way. Since the temperature was -9 C, I had to set up and image very quickly lest the telescope freezes again. Taking what I learned from my previous astronomy session in Glen Major Forest, I aligned my telescope to Betelgeuse and Polaris using the Two Star Alignment method. When it was ready, I let everyone know inside, and many came out to see me image the night sky.

That night, I got lucky with good images of Comet Lovejoy.

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Comet Lovejoy: 75mm focal length: 10″ exp, f/4, ISO 1600

I had taken 10 x 30 second exposure images to stack, but when I checked them, only one was good enough to share. The rest suffered from camera shake. Here it is below:

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Comet Lovejoy: 255mm focal length: 30″ exposure, f/5.6, and ISO 1600.

I wanted to find the comet using my telescope, but my battery was low on energy and finally died. Disappointed, but satisfied with my work, I packed up my scope and made my way home. It was a successful night. I got the chance to image the comet again, and get better pictures. I didn’t get the tail like I wanted, but I guess there is always next time.

Thank You for reading everyone. I hope you are all enjoying these stories. I wanted to mention that the presenters, Ian and Tuba offer a number of classes for the general public, most notably their “Introduction to Astrophotography” class. The courses are full of useful information, and are very well presented. I have taken these courses, and I learned a lot from them. I recommended them to everyone interested in astrophotography. The link is here.  They also have a lecture series called, ‘Search for Extraterrestrials: Life Originating Elsewhere in the Universe.’ The link is here. Keep looking up! You never know what you will find up there.