Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Exoplanet Transit

One of the trends we have seen with amateur astronomers is how they contribute to real science. Brad Walter of Texas did exactly that on February 14, 2008 when he tracked the GJ436 Transit. Using a photometry filter and a Takahashi Mewlon 250, Brad captured the transit of a Neptune-like planet as it crossed in front of its own sun. The above graph shows the light curve of the star, demonstrating that something interrupted the star's magnitude: the transiting planet.

I've known Brad now for about 8 years. I first met him at the Texas Star Party, and continue to see him twice a year at both TSP and the Eldorado Star Party. He went from being a CCD imager to using his CCD camera knowledge for photometry and thus contributing to true astronomical science. What a neat accomplishment!

I look forward to the day when I have a remote observatory and can contribute to such activities.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back from Texas Star Party 2009

Having returned from TSP 2009, I'm excited to talk about things that other people have done or are doing. The above picture was captured at TSP by John Davis, a fellow imager in my astronomy club. He used a modified DSLR camera on an AstroTrac mount. But here's the neato part: he used two different lenses. Here's his explanation of how he did this:

I imaged Scorpius over 2 nights with my Canon XSI: one night with a 28mm to get the entire constellation and the next night with a 85mm focused on the Rho region. I then used RegiStar to create this 2 frame mosaic to bring out extra detail in the Rho region.

Here are the stats:

Canon XSI (Hutech Modded, IDAS filter)
Sigma 28mm f/4, ISO 1600
45 x 2 min

Canon XSI (Hutech Modded, IDAS filter)
Nikon 85mm f/4, ISO 1600
53 x 2 min

I used the AstroTrac for unguided tracking.

Amazing, huh? I think he did a stellar job on the processing.

Tomorrow I'll talk about a cool transit captured with photometry by another friend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Texas Star Party 2009!!

Takahashi Mewlon 300 at f/12 on an AP1200 mount and Particle Wave Monolith pier.

While my imaging gear is busy collecting galactic photons, I have had the joy of looking through my buddy's Mewlon 300. This scope is a 12" Dall-Kirkham optical design that provides stunning views of star clusters and planetary nebulae.

Skies have been clear until tonight. We have a mostly cloudy condition, so it'll be a flats and darks night.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

IYA 2009 - 100 Hours of Astronomy

This is the weekend of 100 Hours of Astronomy. Lots of activities are happening worldwide today and tonight. Please find a location near you by clicking here to go to the map of events.

A live streaming video is also underway, but seems to be having bandwidth issues today. Here are the relevant websites:


Be sure to get out and see what's happening in space!