January 31, 2010

Hear hear!

From The BadAstronomer himself:

"I’m tired of it. When I look out my window now I see a future I’ve been dreaming of my whole life, a future that seems just out of my reach. When my children, my grandchildren, look out their windows in that future, y’know what I want them to see?

The blue-green crescent Earth hanging in a pitch black sky over a cratered horizon.
Let’s give space a chance."

Too.  Bloody.  Right.
I am in complete concordance with this.

January 27, 2010

Beauty, from 248,931,072km out

Here's a lovely video from JPL, the Spirit of Mars.  One minute from the Mars rover, Spirit.  Especially beautiful to me was the sunset/rise at about 45 seconds in.  Oh and the timelapses were pretty cool too!  Also, NASA has more from Spirit over here!

Speaking of which, I forgot to tell you last night, I have a new sunset timelapse that also shows Jupiter setting.  That can be found here.  Enjoy!

Back on the Rails (somewhat)

Ok.  Tonight I went down to the domain, armed with Jacqui's 20D, some fairly well remembered instruction, some mints and faithful AstroTorch.  Determined I was to get me some dSLR pics, and well, I did :)  You can see them over at Jacqui's and my Flickr Page or of course on the Picasa Web Albums .. here.

Phew!  I can see how people can lose themselves in this camera thing, sometimes to the expense of their photographs!  My mind was spinning after my last post. Well to be honest I was weeping like a spoiled 3-year old who can't have anymore lollies.

First off, I need a job, then, when I have a job, I need a new scope, with nice motorised mount and a good dSLR mount and .. oh crap, oh well.  I guess I will just have to keep to the spirit of this blog and do it myself.

Coming soon!  Jason attempts astromount III - this time with the length to fit the 25mm! And one of these!

Meanwhile, as you chuckle at the thought of me messing about with tools, here's some VERY pretty pictures for you to look at.

First off, NASA has this and a bit of this, oh and a whole heap of these. Then the charming, witty and terribly attractive Dr Plait has this to feast upon! Or for the full mind-intercourse .. click here. So back to NASA, or more precisely HiRISE is offering you the chance to pick the next photograph of Mars, which by the way is at closest approach on Friday if anyone's interested! Oh you will need to open an account with HiRISE if you go there.

Okies, well that about wraps it up for this post - I am happy that I got some results from the 20D .. this is a good thing, so all I need now is some time, and motivation for the IXUS mount and Scotch Mount!

January 26, 2010



January 22, 2010

Linky linky linky

NASA has tickled my fancy again with Mission to Jupiter and then there's this: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-018 ... I will just pause here for a few seconds while you all work out how unbelievably cool that is. Oh and I promise I will be back with astro stuff soon - promise. Just doing a lot of photography atm, including stars - and yes I have images for you ... soon!

Also! Wooo!  Made it the top of a google search ... here, try it.  Course you'd have to be looking for tiny lions :D

January 17, 2010

Southern Skies

Southern Skies
Originally uploaded by chickinthepark1

Ok, so here's last night's timelapse. Couple of things here - I finally found somewhere really dark to do this, and it's awesome to have some darkness. Second thing is that I am really starting to think that my camera (Canon IXUS 80IS) has too small an aperture to do this kind of thing justice. I haven't done all the tests I need to yet, but it's starting to feel that way.

This was shot on an 8s exposure (too long - stars have trails, esp Alpha and Beta Centauri there) one shot every 20 seconds, then time-mapped in AfterEffects by a factor of about 2.5.

There's another one (here) that shows the sunset before the stars really came out.

PS: chickinthepark1 is the name of the Flickr Pro account that Jax and I share - the way to tell whose photos are whose is to look for the "Val" in the tags :)

January 16, 2010

From NASA today ...

Star Maker is a lovely shot as always.  And this .. oh this is just cool ...

Star party II went ok on thursday .. due to timing and clouds it was more a BBQ than Star party. Just as we got ramped up with the scope it clouded right over. Before that happened, we got in M42 (yay!) and the Pleiades and then the Hyades in Taurus - aka "The Raining Stars" which were beautiful as the scope focussed in on them (25mm not 9mm for the wide view) so a big thanks to One-Minute Astronomer for the heads up!

There's some (non-astro) photos of the evening up on Flickr if anyone's interested. Next time I think we may have to move it to Pip's house (darker) or a lonely beach somewhere (darker still).

If the sky stays clear tonight, I am going to go try a longish timelapse of the southern stars over Snells - so keep an eye out for that, or at least me making excuses about why I didn't do it :)

January 13, 2010

NASA - you lovely thing you!

Bright Layered Deposits is NASA's offering today ... and quite lovely they are too. Then there's the news from PhysOrg - wastelands, dark energy, WISE-dom, small exoplanets and massive stars.

A little closer to home .. there's plans afoot for another star party .. on thursday.  So this time - weather permitting - I will be able to get some shots to share with everyone ... mind you most of the people who read this blog will BE there, so maybe the point is moot :)

Hopefully will be starting work on new mounting system very soon ... I want to try some prime-focus astro-photography.  With my camera and no lens.  To that end I really need to clean my mirror and collumate my scope - so I will bring you all pics and commentary on that when it happens :)

January 12, 2010

Salty, Mars, Darkness, Rocketry

Well first off NASA has the salty over here ... mmmm nicely salted.  Then then indomitable Dr Plait has put us onto more Mars Goodness ... which is again,  teh awes0me. And a little late - the ESA have some nice films about the Ariane which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first launch. Then there's the NatGeo article on Darkness that's worth a read too!

Helios and Zeus

Hey all, there's a new timelapse up on Vimeo .. shot tonight as the sun went down on Sandspit wharf, where I caught no fish ...

Anyways, you can see Jupiter setting in the last few seconds.  This is a 20-second timelapse for an hour and 13 minutes - 2021 to 2134. Sunset was officially 2042 today.

Let me know what you think?

January 11, 2010

Things from around and about

First off, a bunch of stuff I have missed over at Nasa.  There's this and this and 12 billion years and then say hello to my little friends.  So that's us caught up there.

Then there's always the marvelous Dr Plait, who posts things like this and this and hellishly interesting things like this.  As well as a bunch of awesome skeptic stuff too!

And just to leave you all, I know link posts are like those Simpsons shows where they just revisit old shows, here's a couple of cool things.  Big Dipper to Southern Cross is worth a visit, especially for those who have hankered after seeing northern stars like me.  Then there's Nightshade, based on Stellarium, so how could you go wrong?

K, see you all next time!

January 10, 2010

Party Party Party

Had a small star party happen last night.  In attendance were The Flat and significant friends, Bill, Pip and Rusty. Despite the wonders of a beautiful clear night, a lot of people were more interested in the laser of Martins than the stars themselves.  But there was fire, friends and stellar fusion, so that was all good.

We started with Jupiter before he went down - there he is in the pic, just above the streetlamp. Then M42, which is always a fave.  In fact I think I am addicted to M42, it's beautiful!

Then while waiting for Mars, we went sky hunting - mainly looking for the Horsehead (IC434) and even with running inside and checking Stellarium, we couldn't see it - we found the right spot in the sky, but we thought it was too dim maybe? The plan next time is to go somewhere really dark and try.

Also, there was a good number of both satellites and meteorites visible last night - the best of which left some lovely glowing trails across the sky.  I should have time-lapsed it, but was ouit of battery :(  Perhaps tonight.

Then we went on looking at things ... we found something that was christened "Bill's Blob" just off the SMC, which it turns out is NGC104, Mag 4 ... all that could be said was "My God, it's full of stars!"  And some of the detail within the Milky Way was awe-inspiring - reminded me why I love doing all this.

Once Mars came up, we all had a look at the bright orange blobby disk, was close to horizon and very wobbly,  and then it was all wrapped up really.

So that was an awesome time, and my thanks to Bill and Pip et al for sharing the wonders of the universe with me, and to everyone else who liked the frikken laser!

January 8, 2010

Then there was War ...

Yeah, a LOT harder than Jupiter, what with Mars being a lot smaller and all.  This is using the usual rig, 9mm plossl and a cubic meter of swear words.  Ok, so my first jupiter shots were crap too.

Mars is nice and visible in the east for most of the evening now.  I spent a bunch of time doing long exposures of M42 as well, but NOTHING came out - and I mean nothing - flat black. So, here's Mars, hope you like it ... will work on better stuff when home :)

January 7, 2010

Once more unto the Waikato

Jax and I are on "holiday" at the moment in Te Awamutu, which is, as usual, an awesome break.  So while I do have the 'scope with me, the opportunities for observing have been slight.  Either I have been too tired, or the clouds have chased me down here, which they have.

Still, tonight may be a good one, we will see.

Yesterday Jax and I went walking out and around TA, and we challenged each other to a photographic scavenger hunt - where we each wrote a list of things for the other person to find and photograph.  On the list she made me was ... space :)  Of course it was then cloudy as until quite late, as it is wont to do when I need clear skies.

So here's my "space" photo - with thanks to my niece Emily for the props :)

And if anyone is interested in the results of the scavenger hunt, you can find them here.

January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

First up, From Nasa ... Glittering Metropolis and Stately Saturn.  

And just quickly, from me ...

Happy New Year!