December 26, 2011

Seasons Greetings, and more love and joy

Hot off the CCD this morning, some better shots of Comet Lovejoy in the south-eastern sky.  Also I expect I should do a big shout out to everyone for the holidays eh?  Happy Solstice celebration all, whatever form it takes for you, from 1200mm.

December 24, 2011

Love, Joy, a new star in the East... must be Christmas!

Christmas Eve down under, and an early morning wake-up call for the boys was rewarded with some great views of Comet Lovejoy. Initially we were disappointed to hop out of our beds and convene at Val's house, only to find the horizon cloudy - then realised there was a pretty glorious comet sitting above said clouds. Cue rush for cameras!

I think we both probably ended up with one decent shot each as we were about half an hour too late to avoid the sun making it's presence felt. Nevertheless it was well worth the 4am alarm, and should reward early risers for a few more days. The wise men can't be far away...

Urrrrgh, yeah, what he said about the 4am thing.  I got a couple of good shots, unfortunately, my best one was my first one, making it hella out of focus.  Oh, and Bill, traditionally a comet appears when a prince dies, rather than when one is born ;)

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November 19, 2011

Nebulinks 20 November

Well! NASA is at it again (we love NASA)

New NASA missions to investigate how Mars turned hostile
Cygnus X-1: A Stellar Mass Black Hole:
Saturn's Northern Storm:
In Wolf s Cave:
NASA Extends MESSENGER Mission 

and just for a change ...
Cosmic particle accelerators get things going

And the pretties ...
A History of the Sky

Also, my partner in the stars, gfkBill flew off to Taiwan this morning for a week. No stars for him in the big cities!  He did leave me the tracker tho, so I will be playing a round with that :D

Safe journey bro
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November 18, 2011

Nebulinks: 18 November

Scumbag Nasa!

Waits till 2 days after my first ever article is posted then releases the Highest-Resolution Map of the Moon Ever *sigh*  no matter what you do with this hobby, NASA always wins ... here's why:

NASA Orbiter Catches Mars Sand Dunes in Motion:
NASA Spacecraft Data Suggest Water Flowing on Mars:
Close Encounters of the Galactic Kind:
@NASAJPL: A #3DThursday look at the ...

but that's ok NASA, I forgive you, just keep em coming guys!
Europa's ocean stuffs here:

Then here's some cool and pretty things ...

Midnight sun, hourly:

Marco Mahler - Recycling Art - Tom Samui:

Psychedelic Saturn storm! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine:


Planning a Twilight Shot:
NASA - NASA Probe Data Show Evidence Of Liquid Water On Icy Europa:
Light from the Vacuum

and Just cos I like pretty things:
Pixar's New Trailer

Also, found this one from @Astro_Ron, he has the best view of the moon ...

November 16, 2011

Some nice photo DIY

An acquaintance of ours, Luke, has been working on the timelapse goodness.  Including this little beauty:

Yep, that's a home-made, motorised dolly :)  The man has this to say about it:

This is my first go at making a slider. It is built from 2 shelving rods, and a small moving trolley from Mitre10. It is motorized by an old BBQ rotisserie motor and pulled along by nylon fishing line. Its just over 2m long, and this version was about 35cm wide. 

I have since moved away from using the trolley ,and built a small slider, also reducing its width to about 15cm. with this motor it takes only 30 min to slide along the 2m rail. my next iteration will have a smoother geared motor, (1 or 2 RPM) enabling a longer adjustable slide time and will eventually have a pulley system in place to enable forward and reverse motion.

No shots available from it yet, but we're interested to see how they look when they do come out!  Especially any night shots you feel like doing bro!

Update:  Tracker v1.6


NASA - Montage:

Just goes to show that no matter how good you get ... NASA always wins.  While we're on the subject of NASA ...

Voyager's Backup Thrusters Ignited for Deep Space Eternity:


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Star Tracker Update - Assembly

The Star Tracker is now up and running! I've done some initial shooting sessions, which I will report on soon. For now here are some assembly pics, sans electronics. It cost me two (cheap, of course!) tripods to make one tracker. Why, oh why, are tripod camera shoes not a standard size? Would that be so hard? But I digress...

Below you can see some pics of the tracker assembled. The black spray paint was an added cost, but well worth it I think, for that extra touch of class. Tomorrow, if I have a good day at work locked away writing animation lectures, I'll post pics of the electronics. And I will try to take a picture of the camera on the tracker, for which I will have to dig out a mirror or another camera, for obvious reasons!

Evening Walk?

Some of us aren't at work tonight, and great minds think alike apparently, so here's a shot of Venus chasing her speedy brother Mercury across the evening sky. New Zealand is apparently one of the best places in the world to see Mercury, I'd have to agree!

Planetary goodness.

Pity I have to work tonight ... Mercury, Venus and Jupiter all visible to the naked eye.  Ahhhh, the dance of the planets :D
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Tracker - The Garage Sessions (a DIY post)

1200 Tracker

Yup, here are the photos direct from Bill's garage of the Great Tracker Caper which  I am happy to report, seems to be working pretty well!  Hopefully more on that from Bill soon!

In other news, the nice folks over at DIY Photography noticed some of my moon shots on Flickr and asked me to write a quick tutorial about them, so I did! You can find it here.
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November 10, 2011

Sometimes, everything just works

Few nights ago, the seeing was GOOD, and I mean GOOD. Here's a single frame of the moon, shot through the scope on the IXUS 80IS.

Some post, lots of contrast work. I still enjoy doing these :D

November 8, 2011

Please support these guys

Ad Astra


November 1, 2011


Well, this guy just leaves us for dead I'm afraid, makes us look like the amateurs we are. But hey, it's something to aspire to and certainly something to be inspired by, assuming those are two different things.

Certainly it makes me all the more eager to get our tracking mounts finished! There are some nice dark skies to be had in New Zealand so while a complete map of the night sky shot by travelling around the planet is for now out of reach, I have no doubt that for a lot less money than Nick Rasinger we can achieve something worthwhile.

To the stars!
(...when it stops raining that is)

October 31, 2011

Some busy days!

Phew!  Have things been busy!  As it was my birthday on Friday, the Birthday Faerie visited with cash.  Cash is good.  I took said cash out to see my mate Lance, and exchanged it for some new toys. Nice nice toys.  I got a variable camera projection mount and the noise pollution filter to play with :D  So I thought that with new kit, I would do a kit post, not been one of those for a while :)  So here's most of my kit.  I don't take all of this out, and the camera (astroCam 2) I used to shoot these with is not shown of course.

Some notes:  Galaxy tab is used for geotagging, star charts and reading books whilst waiting for timlapses.  Webcam and Finepix are not in use yet, they're earmarked for prime focus stuffs, once I get them apart.  Hardly ever use the 70-200mm, although its a fine lens indeed.  Enough of this kit-style blather Val!

Here's the first results of what can be done with them.

Here's the first shot through the camera projection mount, taken by Jacqui, so qualifies as her first astro shot ever!  Didn't she do well?  It's the crescent moon, shot on the 20D, using the 25mm mount inside the Camera projection tube.

Then toinght I bodge mounted the noise pollution filter on the IXUS80 and took 2 shots through it.  Done nothing but reduced the noise here.

As you can see that knocks the streetlights right the hell out, so I am defintely looking forward to using this both in the scope and in the camera projection mount.

I just wanted to give a big Thank You to Lance for selling me this stuff oh and the 62mm lens up there in the first Kit picture.

October 27, 2011

Into the Stella Valles rode the 600

Quite a while ago I posted a technique on eliminating/reducing star trails in your night shots. And now I have found another, perhaps easier way to make this calculation, at least for safety. This is called the "Rule of 600".

Basically you take your true lens focal length (on a 2/3 sensor you multiply by 1.6, eg 18mm x 1.6 = 28.8mm) and then divide 600 by that focal length .. this will return you the longest exposure that is possible for any given focal length lens, without the stars streaking.

So, using the 18mm Lens, that would return 600/28.8 = 20.833 seconds before trails show up.

October 26, 2011

Tweet F**king Tweet!

Well as you can see on the left there, the blog now has it's own twitter feed.  So if you'd like to follow it, we here at 1200mm would appreciate it :D

This is of course part of one of my erratic drives to do more with this space.  There's some new things coming, hopefully soon.

Also, gots a little piccy from the Bill tonight ... our trackers are on their way! w00t.

October 25, 2011

Scotts Landing TimeLapse

Scotts Landing TimeLapse a video by Astronomr on Flickr.

Ok, so here's 4 seconds of Scotts landing when the moon was insanely bright last week. I like how there's fish ... sloooow fish ...

October 24, 2011


Satellite by Astronomr
Satellite, a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

As it was too late, and too spooky to head out to Conical tonight, I went nosing out here instead. once I have run the BF Noise reduction I will re-post. :D

A tale of two lenses

EF28-80 by Astronomr
FD24mm by Astronomr

Well after tonight's world cup win for the ABs, I felt buoyant enough to attempt the climb up to the proposed new observing/photo site on Conical Hill.  Well drive up there at any rate.  It wasn't until I got up there that I realised that I had lent Bill the 18-55mm Lens :).

However.  It's nice and dark up there, with the worst noise pollution visible in the two shots above.  That's the glow from Warkworth/Snells Beach.

The shot on the left is taken with the EF 28-80mm Lens, aperture 3.4, the shot on the right Sigma Super-Wide FD 24mm, aperture 2.8.

Trouble with the fast lens is how fungal it is (the stars are actually in sharp focus.

So a small success, a nice dark place to shoot, and to transport scopes up to.  Also gained a burning desire to procure a faster lens, as the 18-55 is nice, but could be a lot nicer.  When I get more $$$ I think a fast 50 might be the order of the day.

Unless of course y'all want to donate something? :)

Ok, just asking!

Here's a pic of the hunter to leave you with.

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October 23, 2011

Back to Basics

Well, Canon Photo5 is over for another year, at least as far as my images are concerned. If you're interested, you can see how my shots look, click here, to see me being punched in the face (my powder entry), and browse my other entries if you have a mind to. So now the wait for November 9 begins, which is when the Judges announce their decision and open the briefs for voting.

In location news, Bill and myself went out yesterday, searching for somewhere dark, and high. Upshot is we think we found somewhere. The top of Conical Peak Road is at this stage, looking very good for our new favorite photo and observation spot. Also we're hoping that our attempts to attract like-minded people to join us up there is successful.

Also, I have discovered a new photo site for uploading of cool things.  Wander on over to Pixoto and take a look at things there.  My stuff can usually be found int he Astronomy section :D

October 18, 2011

Please bear with us

While I try to win a 5D in the Canon Photo 5 competition.

Bill however, should have some tracker construction shots up soon ...

SO, a vote or two wouldn;t go astray :)

October 11, 2011

Wow, people liked that one!

My treated Milky Way shot got to 300 views on Flickr today :)  Only the second time one of my photos has reached that lofty view count :D

October 10, 2011

The Way and the Cross

The Way and the Cross by Astronomr
The Way and the Cross, a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

One of the Church Attempts, this is the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo - the clouds were pouring in fast that night, so I was rushing around trying to get some shots. This is perhaps the best of the evening.

October 7, 2011

Tekapo Motor Camp

Tekapo Motor Camp by Astronomr
Tekapo Motor Camp, a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

Flame Trees and All :D

October 6, 2011

Milky Way

Treated Milky Way by Astronomr
Treated Milky Way, a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

Here's what happens when I get a little fired up over post. This is from the same mt john tracker batch, with heavy contrast adjustment and post. Also some NR.

Makes we wonder where to take this blog really. Can't afford the top-end gear, so hence the journey ... anyone want to lend me a 5D Mk II for a year?

Couple more from Tekapo and Mt Cook


Steve Jobs: February 24, 1955 - October 5, 2011

We're no Apple Fanboys, but this guy did a lot of positive things for computing... rest in peace, Steve Jobs

Val and the Big Guns

Let me tell you all about the trip to Tekapo - there was fretting! The weather was playing silly buggers half the time and in the end we ended up driving back to Tekapo from Mt Cook to go on the tour.

I should say tours.  We stayed up there for 3 tours.  The Earth and Sky guys and girls were just the best.  I wanted to say a HUGE thank you to Chrissy, Matt, Christian and Chris, and of course Maki who put up with a totally spastic amateur astro-photog asking all kinds of dumb questions and gonig squeeeeeee all over  the tracker.

The photos going up on Flickr and here at the moment are a combo of my own efforts, and the ones I got up at Mt John with the help and support of the tour guys.  I really couldn't recommend these guys higher.

K, K, shutting up now.

Here's me squinting through the Big Scope!
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October 5, 2011

25 Minutes

Of the same Sky. This was at the end of the mammoth observing and photography session up the top of Mt John. My Framing Sucks. But ran out of battery after this

October 3, 2011

5 minutes

"The Milky Way is nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted together in clusters. "
Galileo Galilei 

This is what happens when you give your 2nd-hand 20D to the professionals up at Mt John and they stick it on a tracker for 5 minutes ....

August 29, 2011

Dark Skies.

Dark Skies. by Astronomr
Dark Skies., a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

Desert Rd. Bill, we need to organise a trip!

August 18, 2011

The 1200 mm Crew

1200 by Astronomr
1200, a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

Out shooting tonight. Val in front, Bill behind, the moon made an appearance :D

August 6, 2011

New Gear again

Just bought a 35mm Canon EOS camera off the Trade me ... going to try kicking it oldskool as well as with the Digis.

What was over my house!

What was over my house! by Astronomr
What was over my house!, a photo by Astronomr on Flickr.

Quick set tonight, as its late. Tis is the view from my backyard :D

Covington's DSLR Astrophotography Procedures

Covington's DSLR Astrophotography Procedures

This is looking good!

July 29, 2011

Farewell Old Friend

It's in French, but ... wow.  Just wow.

Clicky the Image:

Milky Way over the cement works

Bill and myself, spur of the moment outing to the cement works ... definitely going back!

July 26, 2011

Space is Awesome

This kinda stuff is why we love us some Astronomy here at 1200mm...

July 8, 2011

James Webb

So it's not looking good for the James Webb space telescope that was due to replace Hubble later this decade, due to NASA budget cuts... well, due to greedy hedge fund types ultimately.

This kinda makes it all the sadder. Sort yourself out, America - show some freaking leadership and common sense, you're due!

May 24, 2011

NASA - Return to Earth

Welcome Home

May 19, 2011

NASA - Atlantis' Final Rollover

STS 135 Final Rollover
Last Shuttle Mission scgeduled for early July

May 17, 2011

The last one ...

NASA - Endeavour's Final Voyage

also here

and here

April 27, 2011

Holy Haleakala!

To coin a phrase from one of my heroes!

I did it, I got a star!! Well 2+ stars, binary system.
I have honestly spent years with this no-budget Astro-odyssey trying to get one, tonight I did.

For my single digit readers .. this is Acrux, one of my favorite stars, one of the brightest in the southern sky, a complicated binary star system.  11 shots, stacked in Photoshop - one of the first shots to utilise my new stacker tool set I am writing - and 321 light years.  It's noisy, fuzzy, flared and a boring shot but gorram it, it's my first star!

Enough rambling! Get to the picture!

Next attempt: M42!

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Latest Images from Mercury: Bright Peaks, Swirling Craters and Weird Terrain

BlackFrame NR - Noise reduction using Black frame method

NASA Blueshift » [Blog] Weekly Awesomeness Round-up – 4/19/11

"Earthshine" Discovered: The Search for Earths Twin Just Got Easier - StumbleUpon

NASA - NASA's Hubble Celebrates 21st Anniversary with 'Rose' of Galaxies

"Zapping Enceladus": Saturns Electric Link With Its Moons - StumbleUpon

Australian outback time lapse | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

April 21, 2011

Slacker Val is Slack

I should post bit of a journey post today, since I have added a couple of tools to the process recently, and a technique or two as well, but it's early, I'm at work and I left my links at home, so here's some pictures instead.


April 20, 2011


NASA's SDO Catches a Double Solar EruptionImage by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr"Darwin's Extraterrestrials" - A New Theory for the 'Great Silence'

Go Speed Racer! - Thanks to Chris Mac for this one :D

Also, you guys are aware I have a FB Page too right? Just Look Up!

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April 19, 2011

Nebulinks Toinght

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