Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers Day Sun (and a few night shots)

Happy Fathers Day to all my friends, family and faithful readers who happen to be dads.  We are a fortunate bunch-  In my case, being a Dad is the greatest thing that could have ever happened in my life.  For some reason, I have for years made a custom of making astronomical observations on holidays and other special occasions.  Perhaps because these dates mark the passage of time in my own life, it seems fitting to spend a few brief moments considering the bigger picture.

Here is the 2012 Fathers Day observation, of the Sun.  Pretty similar to the images I have been capturing lately, although perhaps I achieved a little better focus today.  Click the image to enlarge it.

Yesterday we had our first quasi-monsoon thunderstorm of the season in Tucson, meaning that we about to head into a solid 6-8 weeks of cloudy nights.  The skies did clear last night around 11:00 PM and I went out and played around with my new camera a little more...The atmospheric stability was below average, and these targets (save M 27) are in the glow of Tucson from my observatory location.  Speaking of M 27, I posted an image of it previously but wanted to try again using my OIII filter.  The filter is designed for visual use so does not have as narrow a passband as an OIII imaging filter.  This is likely a good thing in that I am using single shots and not stacking and combining multiple images.  Compared to my previous image you can see that much of the star light has been blocked and more of the nebula is visible.

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My good friend Jerry wanted me to try and take a picture of M 22, a beautiful globular cluster in the constellation of Sagittarius.  This was a harder image to capture and have appear decent due to the light pollution into which the telescope was pointing.  As a result, I had to alter the contrast a bit more than I have on previous images...still nothing to write home about, but at least Jerry can now label the variable stars that he has been observing visually!  One thing that is interesting to me, is to see the dark lanes in the upper left portion of the cluster.  Tonight, I will look to note these visually

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Next up was the Swan Nebula, M 17.  Similar issues with light pollution...also, emission nebula such as this emit a significant amount of light in red portions of the spectrum, which cameras like my Canon struggle to capture.  Still, given my status as rank beginner and the lack of any proper filters or integrating of images, this image is interesting.  Note the asteroid moving through the field (this is a 30 second exposure).  I captured this asteroid on three consecutive images of the swan.

Click to enlarge
Finally, because I was in the neighborhood, I took this image of a portion of M 24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud.  Same issues as above with light pollution and me messing around with the brightness and contrast.  I also slightly sharpened these images using a tool called unsharp mask.

Click to enlarge
All of these images were taken using my Canon T2i and Backyard EOS


  1. single unguided shots with a DSLR from a light polluted location. Considering all those things working against you - your results are coming out really well. The solar shots are awesome.