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Jody Gomez

At Night: A Voyage through the Celestial Year

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Whether in celebration of man's mind, and what he has learned, the journeys he looks up at and says "I can", or in celebration of a romantic night where we take that special someone out underneath the stars and, a-hem..., impress them with our cosmic knowledge, or both, this thread is intended to lead the way. Beginning January 1st, I intend to follow our journey around the sun, and consequently our changing views of deep space, in order to celebrate the knowledge we have gained, "the shoulders of giants", and the frontiers we can still cross. I intend to keep this discussion interesting for all. The bare minimum equipment required will be the vision supplied by your unaided eyes and your curiosity. I will begin at this level and go into greater detail for those who may possess a pair of binoculars and/or a telescope. So far we've chatted in the living room, but I invite you to feel the dew on your feet, pull up a lawn chair, and look upwards. Ask questions, explore metaphysics and epistemology, and simply enjoy the view.

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Sorry guys and gals. I have not forgotten you, but I've misplaced the textbook I intended to use for this course, and am awaiting the arrival of it's replacement. For those of you interested, it is an excellent book. You can spend 15 minutes a day with it and you'll be glad you did. The name of it is 365 Starry Nights: An Introduction To Astronomy For Every Night of the Year.(If you do purchase it, please do so under OL's Amazon page, so that they get credit for it) Until then, I'll leave you with Orion: it's my favorite constellation, and one that we will return to.

orion_spinelli_c1.jpg

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Here are two photos of Orion I made some time ago. The first one I've made dark enough to make the form of the constellation visible:

orion1vorm2a.jpg

The second one I made brighter, so you see more stars, but now the form of Orion is much harder to distinguish:

orion1b-a.jpg

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Nice shots Dragonfly. What equipment were you using for these?

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Those were made with my good old Nikon F3, Nikkor 50mm f:1.4, by mounting the camera piggyback on my Vixen VCM200L. Exposure time about 15 min.

Last year I've tried for the first time to use a digital camera. The disadvantage is that the maximum exposure time is only 30 sec. I've tried to circumvent this limitation by making several exposures and combining them afterwards with special software. This time I used a simple tripod, which has the disadvantage that successive photos are not only shifted, but also rotated somewhat, which limits the possibility of accurately combining the pictures. Here are the results for the Summer Triangle, again one darker to show the constellations (but they're still not so easy to discern) and one brighter, so you can see the Milky Way somewhat better:

zomerdriehoek-av-3a.jpg

zomerdriehoek-av-1a.jpg

In fact the constellations are in the second picture perhaps even better visible. At least it shows that you can nice star pictures with very simple means. I still have to try it with the camera piggyback on the telescope, then there is no problem of shifting and rotation of the images, which will probably give sharper pictures. Lack of time and much bad weather has prevented this so far...

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Dragonfly-

Those are some great shots. They remind me that I desperately want to get some equipment I can work with for astro-photography. As it is now, I've got a 10" reflector on an equatorial mount, which is too bulky, and the mount is not precise enough for good long-exposure stuff. I want a nice SCT and a CCD. You got any shots of Andromeda?

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As it is now, I've got a 10" reflector on an equatorial mount, which is too bulky

I know... Dragging my 27 kg 8" Maksutov-Cassegrain into the garden in the dark without stumbling (one near-accident, I still shudder when I think that it could have crashed into the paving stones) is no pleasure, which makes that I use it less than I'd like to.

and the mount is not precise enough for good long-exposure stuff.

But for "ordinary" photography of stars (camera piggyback) it's probably good enough. Several decades ago I used even a simple 3" refractor with an equally simple equatorial mount to guide by hand the camera. It was very tiring, so I had to give up after about 10 minutes (constantly turning the knobs...), but I got wonderful slides (if I only knew where they are, I've thousands of slides...) As the photos in my last post show, you can even make nice pictures with the camera on a simple tripod and some suitable software.

I want a nice SCT and a CCD.

..and an autoguide system and... my wish list is also long, but the costs are high...

You got any shots of Andromeda?

No, that one is still on my to-do list.

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Here are two photos of Orion I made some time ago.

I had a poster that was called "Star Charts" of the constellations. Inspired by it, when I was 11 I wrote a short story of characters, all of whom had star names (not the numbered technical names), who could travel from star to star. Later, it was my favorite thing to do to pick out constellations in high school, even though the story I wrote never made it past age 12. Now, I only remember a few of them (Casseiopeia, Orion, Dippers). Those are beautiful pictures.

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Jody,

Thanks for the beautiful pictures. I'm putting one as my desktop background, replacing F-14's breaking the sound barrier through high humidity (you see the air patterns).

Best,

Marsha Enright

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Marsha-Wow, you're replacing an F-14 "hitting the number"? You know, I had the good fortune back in November of seeing a shock cone around an f-18 as he flirted with the sound barrier. It was at an airshow in Pensacola, and it was overcast and had been raining. Normally poor conditions indeed for an airshow, but with the high humidity it was perfect for the shock cone.

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Jody,

Cool, you know what I'm talking about and even saw it in person! Yeah, I've had that picture up for a looonng time, so I thought I'd replace it - for now. If you want a copy, let me know!

Best,

Marsha

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Marsha-The Tomcat is my favorite. I was sad to see it recently make it's final cruise, as I think it can still hold it's own against anything out there. I would love to see the photo you have.

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Yesterday I made a few pictures of Orion with my digital camera:

orion2-a.jpg

orion1b-a-1.jpg

There are less stars visible than in the earlier photo with the analog camera, but my digital camera has a maximum exposure time of only 30 seconds (while the earlier photo had an exposure time of 15 minutes). In the second photo you can even see the Orion nebula. Of course it isn't much compared to the well-known pictures, but after all it's made just with a 4*zoom camera and not with some fancy telescope (although the camera was mounted piggy-back on my telescope for following the movement of the stars, otherwise I'd have had to limit the exposure time even more to avoid star trails). I can increase the number of stars in the picture somewhat by playing with brightness and contrast, but then the noise in the photo becomes also too visible.

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Dragonfly, I can't see the onion, but I do see a banana.

Sorry, I'm afraid I'm missing something... could you explain?

Just trying to be funny. "Onion" being a play off of "Orion."

--Brant

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Jody,

I'll be watching!

I check the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" at refdesk.com every day. A few days ago they posted a stunning picture of the Andromeda Galaxy:

http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/M31NMmosaic.html

I never get tired on this stuff.

Nor I. That is dazzling.

When I look at this material I keep hearing Carl Sagan's voice: In the cusmos there are billyuns and billyuns of stuhrs and we are all made of stuhrstuff. The cusmos is all there is, all there ever was and all there will ever be.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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