Friday, July 31, 2009

Double barrell action at Moorook

Well it been a busy week for AARTScope, whilst the weather has not been particularly favourable, the Australian Amateur Research Telescope (AART) & G11 on Global Rent-a-scope was commissioned on the 19th July and has already made a significant contribution.

Global Rent-a-Scope now has two 16inch scopes online at D90 Moorook. Both of these "light cannons" made a significant contribution during the week.

On the 22nd, using G11 (AART) Norm Falla of the UK, not satisfied with England whipping Australia in the cricket, managed to capture Asteroid 2009 OD3, and at time of writing currently has the discovery credit. MPC have not yet issued an MPEC on 2009 OD3.

Then on the 23rd, Kevin Hills using G6 was able to provide confirmation data on Robert McNaught's discovery of asteroid 2009 OB3 as detailed in MPEC-O28.

Its great to see the two new 16inch scopes in action at Global-rent-a-scope performing great science.

So after a busy first week grabbing some nice astrophotos and some great science, I am even more excited about the vision of "Creating the sense of anticipation and discovery that keeps scientists asking questions...".

Astroswanny was interviewed on Astronomy.FM on August 4th.

2009 OD3 hasnow been linked to previous Objects 1994 PZ35 & 2008 GL16. Congrats Norm on a great recovery on the 7th Opposition since 1994.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The eagle has landed!!!!

Well its winter and the Milky Way is shinning starkly against the dark Australian skies. The nocturnal eagle soars high in the eastern sky, M16 The famous Eagle Nebula that is, crosses the meridian around 10:30pm this time of year, placing it perfectly for early evening photography.

Hi Res Version

The Eagle Nebula is a well known member of the Messier family and shot to even greater prominence when the Hubble Space Telescope captured breathtaking images that came to be known as the "Pillars of Creation".

My photo is of course no comparison to the one taken with a 94 inch mirror cell in a "school bus" sitting outside earth's atmosphere, but none the less inspiring.

Monday, July 27, 2009

First Light at G11 - AARTScope

Well here it is. A little later than expected.

Its been a bit cloudy this week, so I have been trying to grab something interesting between the clouds.

This is a very quick LRGB 600sec each, just a color combine in Maxim, and autoscaled JPG output.

Enjoy! Hopefully many more to come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

iPhone goes to the Moon

Well, its a beautiful crisp night in Melbourne - and by crisp I mean freezing cold, not that motherhood statement currently popular amongst senior management for "Crisp" communications (code for ...."explain it so your boss can understand it!").

Ah....I digress.

On the weekend I spent some time fashioning a Telescope adapter for my new iPhone, just because you can, or it seemed like a good idea at the time. I have to prove to my little 4.5 inch reflector (my first telescope) that its still loved.

So down to the local hardware store to pick up a few bits and pieces I went. I came home with a threaded 1&1/4 inch hose adapter, a rectagular down pipe plastic thingy and some velcro straps....and whacko, 40 minutes later I have an iPhone adapter for my little telescope.

So tonight on a freezing cold, stunning Melbourne evening the full moon came up over the horizon. What a sight it was! No good for Asteroid hunting so a little fun seemed appropriate.

One of the amazing things about the new range of SmartPhone cameras, and in particular, the new iPhone and Flip Mino is the really low F stop. Many of these cameras are as low as F 2.5- F2.7. I suspect this may have something to do with the ability to take photos in smokey nightclubs, but I am not complaining as it does a fine job on the moon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Favourites - Top 10 Astrophotographers

The world of Astrophotography is an amazing blend of passion, knowledge, skills, techniques, and at times, expensive toys. An incredible artistic medium that requires many hours of dedication and refinement of skills.

The human eye, and the atmosphere of our earth dictate the visible elements of the vast expanse above us. The amateur astronomer plays with these elements using filters, long duration exposures, advanced processing techniques and a never ending hunt for the darkest skies; in order to create their masterpieces.

The hubble has taught us much about our universe, but also alot about image processing techniques - since it was launched with a camera that initially created out of focus images.

To most people Maximum Entropy De-convolution sounds like pasta night at the halls of residence at your local university's physics department. Who would have thought it was a simple image processing technique in a popular downloadable software package. All this is second nature to the Astrophotographer.

Today I thought it would be good to take a look at 10 of the best amateur astrophotographers.

Disclaimer: this is a somewhat subjective review and I am happy to take comments on anyone I have missed. I don't pretend to have found them all, and I am sure I have probably missed some noteable people who should be on the list. Perhaps leave a comment and we can refine it over time - Anyway these are my current top 10 favourites.

Criteria: I have tried to select my top 10 based on the quality of the photos and techniques as well as the quality and experience of the websites that serve them up.

#1: Ken Crawford

Masterful technique - best website

#2 Wolfgang Promper

Finest Globula ever photographed

#3: Tom Davis

Master of the dark Nebulas

#4: Brad Moore

Image used by NASA as an example of the best of earth based photography

#5: Antonio Fernandez

Brilliant narrow band imaging

#6: John Gleason

Master of HA - Most artistic website

#7: Russell Croman

Exquistely composed Mosaics

#8: Rainer Sparenberg

Best Solar Photography & Terrestrial astro, great website.

#9: Mike Salway

Master of planetary photography/Landscape-astro & service to the amateur community

#10: Mike Sidonio (The world's strongest Astronomer)

This touching tribute won a David Malin Award - fine treatment of rarely photographed Nebula and Galaxies

So there it is, some of the masters, and their unique craft. I'll sign off now and await the "why didn't you pick me" emails - which I am more than happy to receive. Then perhaps we'll review the list over time.

Appologies once again if I have missed someone who should be on there.


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