Monday, April 24, 2017

Portal to the stars

Just back from another weekend adventure out to the dark Skies of Portal, AZ.  Seems that my blog is slowly turning into the Portal any event, below is an image of the Milky Way just after it cleared sufficiently above the horizon for a picture.  In this image we are looking toward the center of our galaxy, in the constellation of Sagittarius.

The green glow just above the horizon is air glow- light being emitted by Earth's atmosphere.  This is from several sources, such as the recombination of atoms which were ionized by the sun during the day, light caused by cosmic rays striking the upper atmosphere, and energy emitted by the combining of nitrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere.

While the entire sky has air glow (and as a result it is never truly dark), the glow is most obvious about 10-20 degrees above the horizon.  This is because the glow is subtle, and we are looking through about twice as much atmosphere looking across the horizon than when peering overhead.  (We do not notice the air glow on the horizon due to atmospheric extinction of the light on the horizon).

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Having fun at work

I really do have a great job-  I always tell folks that somehow I married a great hobby with a lot of administrative experience at the University...and now I get to worry about the budget and work with telescopes at the same time!  Two weeks ago we held two first ever events at the SkyCenter- a DSLR milky way and star trail workshop and a Messier Marathon.   Here is a single shot of the summit as the milky way was rising on March 25th-

While I had to work and did not 'participate' in either event, I did manage to squeeze off a few pictures of my own during the night- First, this is a single 20 second exposure of M 13, the Hercules globular cluster, taken through the 24" Phillips telescope using my Canon 6D.  I was impressed with the image out of the camera, so I decided to try and process it a little using Photoshop...and while I know the color of the stars is a little saturated, I still like the result.

In addition, I took a 30 second exposure of the M 57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra.  The image below is a 100% crop, and my colleague (and professional photographer) Sean Parker worked the processing a bit to bring out the galaxy (IC 1296) nearby the ring...but the ring itself is very much what the Canon delivered.

Final image from the weekend, is an exposure I took inside the dome of the 32" Schulman Telescope during a break in the Messier Marathon while guests were waiting for the summer constellations to rise a little higher.  It seems bright in the dome, but consider all the lighting is coming from red led lights that illuminate the steps leading into the dome!

Hey, 2 blog posts in two weeks!