Some Sunny Days

I finally got to put all the image of the Sun that I took through June and July into a short animated sequence that I showed for the first time at the Manitoba Museum’s Planetarium. I thought I would share the images here as well, because I know a number of friends and family didn’t get the chance to make it to the planetarium.

Unfortunately I can only show the flat images I took and not some of the cooler modifications that I could do using the Planetariums digital system. Using some software I managed to wrap these images onto half a sphere that we could put up on the dome, and I even a full map of the sunspots in July. I used the map as a surface texture for the digital systems model of the Sun. All really cool and nerdy!

I hope you enjoy this short little sequence, it was a fun and time consuming project. I can’t wait to get out again and do some solar imaging, but for now my studies are taking priority.

This sequence of images was capture using my 80mm Orion GoScope and a white light solar filter. I used my Canon T3i attached to a 10mm eyepiece.

This sequence of images was capture using my 80mm Orion GoScope and a white light solar filter. I used my Canon T3i attached to a 10mm eyepiece.

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Enjoying the Sun

It took me awhile, but I finally decided what to spend my Christmas and Birthday money on. I decided to get an Orion StarBlast Auto Tacker for my little telescope. Ever since taking an observational astronomy course, I’ve wanted to delve a little deeper into astrophotography, but I’ve been unwilling to drop lots of money on that side of my star gazing hobby.

The StarBlast tracker was the perfect answer. Not too expensive, portable and so far does a good job for an Alt. Az. tracking mount.

I’ve taken it out the last four days with my solar filter to track my favourite celestial target, the Sun. Some people have asked me why I like watching the Sun so much. They figure that I would be more interested in many of the beautiful night time targets (and there are a lot of them). The reasons are Three fold.

First, I am embarrassed to admit, is that I am actually pretty bad at finding those deep sky objects in the sky without some form of readout giving me celestial coordinates. The Sun on the other hand is much easier to find (though can be a challenge to get centred in the eyepiece some days). Secondly, observing the Sun can be quick if I need it to. I can set up, look through the eyepiece, take a few photos and take everything down in a half-hour. So it can fit nicely in between running from one thing to the next.  Lastly, the Sun is  dynamic, unlike night time targets that tend to be static until something literally goes nova.

The daily changes in the Sun are fun to watch and track, especially sunspots. The sunspots move with the rotation of the Sun changing their positions daily. They appear, multiply, grow, dim and disappear. It really is something to watch and the last four days the Sun has been putting on quite a show.

I’ve been wanting for some time to be able to put together a short sequence of images to show how the sunspots rotate with the motions of the Sun and taking this new mount out for a spin was as good an excuse as any to take another stab at it. So far I’m happy with the results and hope that I can get more images over the next month or so to make a longer sequence. We’ll see how time and the skies hold out.

The Sun over four days from 2014.06.05 to 2014.06.08

The Sun over four days from 2014.06.05 to 2014.06.08

SunRot4Days

Trying Out My New Camera

After breaking the lens on my old and faithful point and shoot, I finally bit the bullet and got a new camera.

I took it out yesterday to catch the Moon and Saturn close together in the night sky. I still have a huge learning curve when it comes to astrophotography, but I think a few of these turned out all right. I hope you enjoy them.

The Moon, Saturn and a dirty lens I think. A nice effect, I just hope it is not a defect in my lens.

The Moon, Saturn and a dirty lens I think. A nice effect, I just hope it is not a defect in my lens.

The Moon and Saturn through the trees and above the St. Vital Bridge

The Moon and Saturn through the trees and above the St. Vital Bridge

Looking at Scorpius over the tree line.

Looking at Scorpius over the tree line.

A shot of Corona Borealis, The Northern Crown, one of my favourite constellations.

A shot of Corona Borealis, The Northern Crown, one of my favourite constellations.

Help Name P4 and P5

Have you ever wanted to help astronomers name something? Well now is your chance. The team at SETI that discovered Pluto’s two new moons, P4 and P5, is turning to the public and asking them to cast their vote on a selection of names for these celestial bodies.

Visit www.plutorocks.com to cast your vote before Feb 25th. The team will then present the most popular names to the IAU for consideration.