Sunday, August 26, 2018

Mars, On a Smorgasbord

The moon was shining brightly, but it was a nice clear sky last night.

I started bringing the equipment outside around 8pm and I was stunned by what I saw in the sky.
SkySafari Screen Capture - Four Planets Hanging in the Sky
Four planets were hanging brightly in the Southern sky.  From left to right, Glorious Red Mars, Brilliant Yellow Saturn, Regal White Jupiter, and Beacon Bright Venus.

I pointed the telescope at each of them and spent some observation time on each.

But, it was Mars from which I captured images.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Not Mars, But a Shiny Bauble!

Conditions for astronomy were bad this weekend.


I'm pretty disappointed because I really would like to watch Mars as it recedes and the dust storm abates.

Maybe next weekend?  More Mars images?

Instead, how about this image?  It is indeed a shiny bauble.  It's the Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635.

It's a giant gas bubble floating in outer space.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Not Mars, but Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner!

After battling clouds all Thursday night trying to get some good lucky imaging video captures, I was ready to call it quits shortly after midnight.

I managed to get some good data for Mars, but I was tired and frustrated.

And then a miracle occurred.

The clouds cleared.

It was now a dark, moonless, and cloudless sky.  The Milky Way was bright and overhead in my Bortle Class 4 sky.

More coffee became involved.

I took advantage of that moment of glorious nighttime beauty and took a peek at Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.  It was near the constellation Cassiopeia.

It was big and bright in my 10" Dob.

I put the camera on and took this image.  It is a single frame.  No stacking.  No magic.

Mars, Two Weeks Post Opposition

Another lousy weekend for astronomy.

Clouds in the sky at night.  Each and every night.

I missed the peak of the Perseids meteor shower because of overcast skies.

Fortunately, I saw the forecast in advance and took yet another vacation day from work to stay out all night on Thursday to try to get some quality observing done.

It was a dark and moonless sky on Thursday.  It also started out as horribly cloudy.  Mars was beckoning near the horizon.  Clearly, teasing me to try some lucky imaging.  The rest of the sky was full of clouds, but Mars was visible.

Mars rise is before 8pm (EST) these days.  If you haven't seen it yet, you really ought to make an effort.  It'll be the bright orange/red object in the southeastern sky.  It's gorgeous! 

Clouds obscured the North Star.  This made aligning the telescope somewhat troublesome.  Tracking will suffer if the telescope is not aligned.

I made a guess as to where true north was with respect to the telescope.  I must have made a good guess.  Tracking was good enough that Mars stayed in the field of view for the many minutes that I like for a video capture run.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mars Oppositions, A Comparison!

When I took another look at the video that I captured and processed to create last week's image of Mars, I realized that I still had videos that I captured from the 2016 opposition.

The difference between this opposition, with its planet encircling dust storm, and the 2016 opposition is striking. 

Here is a still frame from this opposition.

Dusty Mars, at opposition 2018

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