December 25, 2009

From NASA, and from me

Happy Holidays from NASA :)

I have just been through a 3-years old's first real visit from Santa ... boy did she get some LOOT!

Luckily, she got a rocket, shuttle, astronaut and asteroid from her Uncle Jason :) They're a small island of scientific triumph in the sea of pink she seems to have received - I mean seriously! It looks like someone dropped a freaking Barbie™ Bomb in here.

Anyways, Happy Holidays everyone!

Rising Stars

Good evening all .. and of course, Happy Holidays

I got an awesome script running for CHDK tonight .. my first timelapse.  CHDK is allowing me to make basically 8 megapixel movies of the stars moving around, using photographic settings :)

I has a happy! Here's why:

The video is shot here in Te Awamutu facing roughly south-wards .. you can see the Southern Cross (Crux Australis) rising across the top left hand corner - real Kiwi Icon :)  I'm obviously needing things like better ISO settings and exposure control, but for a first time, I'm pretty happy with this.  My goal in this is to get a really good looking timelapse ... including the milky way if possible ...

As we draw near the end of the International Year of Astronomy, and the first 2 months of my astro-blog I'm thinking that this photography thing is way more complicated than I originally thought of.  Also, am looking forward to the next 5 years or so - New Horizons gets to Pluto in July 2015 - now that's going to be cool!   NASA has the Kepler project well underway .. looking for Earth-like planets around other stars and there's lot and lots of beautiful things to look at.

As for the blog, I have tried to keep it focussed on the sky, and my attempts to photograph it.  Hope you've enjoyed it so far.

Hope your holidays go well and you have a good time now and in the new year!!

December 22, 2009

Happy Solstice to all!

Longest Day!  Summer Solstice and not one naked wiccan! Damn it all!

So today's the day that the sun reaches it's highest point of the seasonal cycle .. from here on out, the days get shorter as we slide into autumn.

Bad Astronomy has a good, if northern hemispherical, write up and as usual lots of links and nice pictures about it all :)

No pics toinght.  Been cloudy all day, and most of the evening .. as the buggers have worked out that I am no longer in Snells and have come looking for me :)  I have laid hands on a good tripod (thanks Dad) and if it clears up later I will be out there seeing what I can get :)

So, there may be an addendum ... keep watching :D

December 21, 2009

Stars in MooLoo Land

Well, I'm here! After a stunning day of heat, 3-year old niece and her boundless energy and a kitten with almost as much energy .. night fell, and I found myself cursing.

Cursing my inability to hold a cam steady for 1/10 second, cursing my lack of telescope on such a beautiful night and cursing my SD card reader failure!

Still, all is not lost, and in the best traditions of taking the same shot in different places, I present you with these!

NASA pic O' the day ...

Expedition 22 Lifts Off

Mmmmmm ... Rockets!

And then, More Wow!

I was just about to go to bed, honestly!  But then I was checking out my feed from Bad Astronomy ... not that I'm stalking Dr Plait, man-crush or no ...

Ahem! Anyways ... go here!  Not only is it the link to the people who made the wow .. but there's links in there that let you make you OWN wow!


And to all, a good night.

Well away to Te Awamutu tomorrow for the holiday, lent Bill my rig earlier this evening, so I think I made his Holiday :)  Happy Christmas Bill!

Of course, once I lent my rig out, the skies cleared and all was a beautiful night for observing.  Murphy sits on my shoulder I tells ya, making snide comments in his Irish accent.

So I got some nice shots anyways to spite the bastard!  Was trying to get my camera to pull off time-lapse, which it does as part of it's video settings, but bugger that, I want 8 mega-pixel time-lapse dammit! So I will be working on that soonish too :)

So postings may be a little scarce for a while my friends.  But I do plan on taking some shots in TA - they have beautiful skies there, so keep watching.

Oh and Happy Solstice everyone! ;)

December 20, 2009

Oh. Wow.

This, as well as being beautiful, is just humbling ... 13.7 Billion Light years in six minutes, 31 seconds ...

December 19, 2009

NASA pic O' the day ...

Yeah yeah - it's not Astro as such, but rockets are damn cool too! Is there anyone who didn't wanna be an astronaut when they grew up? Hell I'm nearly 40 and I still wanna be an astronaut when I grow up!

December 17, 2009

What I want to do when I grow up ...

I want to take pictures like these:

As a budding, and very amateur,  astrophotographer I stand in awe.  That and I have a little man-crush on Dr Phil Plait.

Oh and thanks to Bill, there's also this one,:

But then who didn't want to be an astronaut when they grew up?

December 16, 2009

Cry 'Havoc', and let slip the dogs of War!

Went observing last night, with Martin and Karen.   Started off at the chateau du Val, where we had an awesome view of such wonderful sights as the Great Nebula in Orion, Jupiter with all four Galilean moons clearly visible and a fruitless but fun search for Uranus.  After that it was heading towards midnight and we decided to pack up the bucket and head down to the beach to watch Mars rise (12.07).

After waiting for a bit, Karen pops up saying "what's that orange star over there?" and we were off!  Mars appears very small in my scope, but quite bright and very very orange.  Quite quite beautiful .. most definitely a crescent in the scope, no sign of the Dogs of War of course - too small and too dim I would think.

There was much cursing on my part regarding the size of my scope, and what I would give for a 16-inch bucket, not to mention getting my hand pinched in the springs causing some little resentment towards my scope :)

So a good night all in all, some lovely things seen.  The Orion nebula and of course Mars.  Also Io appeared kind of red to me last night, could have just been atmospherics of course, or could be that Io is slightly red :)  Also, the night was filled with shooting stars - perhaps a fringe of the Geminids creeping down to the southern hemisphere :)

No pics of the night's activities of course, because I forgot to take the Camera Mount :(  I am, an Idiot.

December 12, 2009

Some Thanks

 I can't believe my remiss-ness.  Blame it on the RL I guess, but I am here to give some thanks (calm down Bill, not THAT kind of thanks :)

My heartfelt and extreme thanks go out to the Andrews - for the generous donation of laptops .. Eddie and Jackal, thanks guys, the gifts are awesome and sooo appreciated .. now I have something to take my Astrocam feeds and eventually control my motor system, hopefully leading to better quality pics. You guys rock.

So there we go, I'm sorry for the lateness of it.

Oh the sweet sweet taste of success!

Well the new camera is an unqualified success .. especially with the hack.  I got back from Welly and finally got a clear sky and all the right conditions to shoot for the moon .. so I did, and the ability to adjust things is awesome - also the ability to shoot in 3 bracketed shots is awesome, oh and well ... CHDK is just awesome :)

These are, without a doubt, my best yet.  Some notes on stuff for all that are interested - I manually fixed the chromatic aberration in Photoshop (moved the red and blue channels around), then applied a noise reduction and unsharp mask to the images.  I have not yet done any colour work on them, apart from colour noise removal, so they're fairly raw.

I most definitely has a happy!

Also, I have shifted from Flickr - as they want to start hiding my shots and I'm too cheap to pay for a pro account, so I went a hunting and found I can have up to a gig of photos here! So ... enough yak, on with the sexy shots!!