Monday, June 30, 2008

The Light Spectrum

Sometimes things just don't work out.

In my case, months of uncooperative weather has limited the number of times I have been able to use my telescope.

Soooooooo, when the stars are blocked an amateur astronomer has to make the best of it and think in terms of glass-half-full.

Tonite it was cloudy and rainy, but we did have a great rainbow provided by our star "Sol' (Picture).

Eventually, there will be Clear Skies!



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blinded By The Light

The Milky Way Galaxy as viewed from 'light polluted' northern Virginia.

The Milky Way Galaxy viewed from Utah.

I took the first picture in my front yard in northern Virginia. The second picture was taken by an amateur astronomer in Utah. Sadly, light pollution is washing out the wonders in the heavens that we could be seeing.

Light pollution is a big problem in any populated area. Our area used to be known as rural, but the constant spread of population from Washington, D.C. has turned Warrenton into just another suburb.

In order to see sights like the second picture, I would have to move to a very rural location. Seems to me that during an energy crisis like the one we are currently in, one way to conserve a significant amount of fuel would be to tone down the lights to a reasonable level.

Following is a link to the international dark sky organization, a group that is trying to reclaim the night sky. They are not like the fanatical environmentalists who are telling us to live in caves, but are a practical organization that is trying to urge communities to tone the lights down to reasonable levels.

Also check out the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club 'Light Pollution' page to find out what that group is doing to reclaim the night sky.

Hoping for Clear and Dark Skies



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Greetings From Jupiter!

Since getting into the backyard astronomy hobby, I have been trying to get a descent picture of Jupiter.

This time of year one has to be dedicated to the task, becuase the big 'Gas Giant' does not rise in Virginia until 12:30AM.

I had nothing better to do one night, so I stayed up for "Jupiter Rise". It was worth the wait. A new moon and low humidity were factors in allowing me to get my best glimpse of Jupiter ever in my telescope.

Viewing an object is one challenge, but getting a good picture is another.

The first two pictures show a close-up of Jupiter to include Red, Orange and White lines. Unfortunately, the Great Red Spot is not visible this time of year.

The third picture shows Jupiter and four of the planets 50+ moons.

I took the pictures using the AFocal photography method. I focused Jupiter in my telescope using a 5mm eyepiece, then took the picture of the image in the eyepiece using my Nikon D80 & 50mm lens on a separate tripod.

Next stop: "Saturn"



Thursday, June 5, 2008

International Space Station Passage - June 5th, 2008

The International Space Station (ISS) passed over the Washington D.C. area at 2200-2202 EDT on June 5th. Shown above is the picture I took.

The ISS travelled left-to-right . The bright star 'at Left' is Polaris (North Star) and the bright star 'at Right' is Vega in the constellation Lyra.

My camera was configured as follows:

Camera: Nikon D80
Mount: Tripod
Lens: 18-55mm @18mm (F/3.5)
Sensitivity: ISO-800
Exposure: 75 Seconds

I shared the experience with my Mom in Cleveland, OH by calling her prior to the passage, and she was able to see it from that location as well. She was thrilled.

Until Next Time!

Star Pilot