Sunday, November 30, 2008

20081130 Sight from Indoor

Jupiter and Venus came very close to each others, and the thin crescent moon was nearby. What a sight!

Taken with a Canon 450D, Canon 50mm f/1.8, Canon 200mm f2.8L, Kenko 2x, Gitzo G106 with Manfrotto 410 head.

20081130 Sun

Seeing 3/10, transparency 8/10.

Telescope: Borg 45ED II
Filter: Coronado Solarmax 40 with BF10
Mount: Meade LXD55
Camera: DMK 31AF03.AS

1420 (GMT+8):-

1421 (GMT+8):-

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Canon 400mm f5.6L

This lens is small and portable, and it has superb quality even in an astronomical standard at wide open aperture.

In terms of versatility especially when daily photography is concerned, the Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L might have an edge. The quality of the zoom is also very high, but it's not exactly "astronomically" high. Some reported that there could be internal reflection in extreme condition like the diamond ring before/after a totality.

Therefore, if astronomy performance is the prime concern, the prime lens will be better, and the prime lens is also cheaper as well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

20081123 Sun

Seeing like 5/10, transparency 4/10.

Telescope: Borg 45ED II
Filter: Coronado Solarmax 40 with BF10
Camera: DMK 31AF03.AS
Mount: LXD55 on Gitzo G1415

The sun remained rather silent, but there's still some activities around.

1524 (GMT+8):-

1525 (GMT+8):-

1529 (GMT+8), close up with 2x barlows:-

Friday, November 21, 2008

20081121 Sun

That worm yesterday was gone apparently, but after processing it can still be seen. Seeing 3/10, transparency 4/10. This is an equipment day, I have more time than I usally have to play around. First up is my regular setup, i.e. Borg 45ED II with Solarmax 40 and BF10. Next is my C5 PST setup, and then I went back to my regular setup plus double stacked with the PST etalon.

First two are taken with my Borg 45ED II, Solarmax 40 and BF10, DMK 31AF03:-

1353 (GMT+8):-

1354 (GMT+8):-

Next three are taken with my Cheapy-ERF/C5/PST/BF10 setup, first is a close up of the small prominence, 1409 (GMT+8), everything looked big with 1250mm:-

And even tiny active regions (no number) can be shown quite nicely, 1417 (GMT+8):-

Some surface detail near that small prominences, 1419 (GMT+8):-

A short clip taken with the C5/PST to show how poor the day time seeing was at 1250mm! The contrast is no good for this one, but you could see glimpse some dim prominences here:-

Time to try out double stacking, it's a Borg 45ED II setup, with Solarmax 40 and BF10 as usual, but the PST etalon is also installed, taken at 1427 (GMT+8):-

1428 (GMT+8):-

I guess I will need to pay more time to fine tune the two etalons, this time I basically kick out the internal reflection rather than maximizing the contrast and minimizing the uneven illumination.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

20081120 Sun

Soon after taking the moon, the sun comes! Seeing is now very poor at 2/10, transparency like 4/10.

Telescope: Borg 45ED II
Camera: DMK 31AF03
Mount: Meade LXD55
Filter: Solarmax 40 with BF10

We got a small worm like structure (active region?) in the middle of the solar disc, I have a close up with a 2x barlows.

1133 (GMT+8):-

1134 (GMT+8):-

1138 (GMT+8), close up of the "worm like" structure:-

20081120 Moon (day time)

Yesterday was the last day of my job, so before I begin my new job on the next Monday, I've two days off. I took these after bringing the kids to schools.

Telescope: Borg 45ED II

Camera: Canon 450D

Mount: Gitzo G106 (camera tripod without tracking)

0949 (GMT+8), longer exposure:-

0950 (GMT+8), shorter exposure:-

On reading the histogram, the signals are stucked in a very narrow part due to the poor day time contrast, so exposure does not really matter. However, it's always nice to use slightly longer exposure to minimize the effect of bias.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

20081115 Sun

Seeing 5/10, transparency 5/10.

Telescope: Borg 45ED II
Filter: Solarmax 40 with BF10
Camera: DMK 31AF03.AS
Mount: Meade LXD55

I tried to do one set without tuning T-max, and the field is more "homogeneous".

1321 (GMT+8):-

1322 (GMT+8):-

And then I tried to do another one set after tuning T-max (my usual practice):-

1323 (GMT+8):-

1324 (GMT+8):-

Finally, another closeup made with a Tele Vue 3x barlows.

1327 (GMT+8), actually, I wanted to use a 2x, but my hand touched the 3x first and so... being lazy, I used the 3x:-


Tele Vue 3x barlows with a 16mm Tele Vue Nagler Type 6. The solar disc can just fit into the view, with nearly no black sky surrounding the red disc. Prominence can be seen even at the very edge of such a wide field. Very nice indeed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

20081113 Sun

I was on leave this afternoon, and I managed to get back home at around 1430 (GMT+8). The sun was sinking very low, and I knew that I had only around 10 minutes to capture the sun before it was blocked by a distant building.

I was right, and during the capturing of the first clip, it was blocked only after around 230 frames. AR1008 was there, together with a few QRF, and short prominences around the disc.

The short clip:-

20081113 Moon, M42, etc

In the mid-night I woke up, without looking at the clock, I looked out from the windows. I saw quite a lot of stars (just around 20 at most!!!) and this is a very rare scene here in Hong Kong, especially inside the urban center. Most people were sleeping with their light off, and the monsoon was blowing to clear up the dust in air, that created a unique opportunity. But at this kind of weird hours, it's hard to keep up especially when you have to work on the next day.

Anyway, I told myself, why not just have a short look?

I first noticed that the moon was hanging near a distant building, "so why not take a shot?", I asked myself. And I took my Canon 450D out and attached my Kenko 2x as well as the Canon 200mm f2.8L on it. Spot metering should be fine, I opened the window, felt the cool breeze outside, what a great feeling! Press the shutter, looked at the final image, the moon was so bright that when it was correctly exposed, the building was totally absent. So, I waited around 2 minutes and shoot again. This time, since the moon was blocked partially by the building, it's just not as bright and the silhouette of the building was superimposed on the moon, and I could see some lovely craters on the other side of the moon. What a view!

Next, I tried to point my lens to M42, I could see some nebulosity! I pulled out my Canon 10x30 IS, resting my arms on the window frame, wow! What a nice view! Then I press the IS button, the stars were nearly resolved, but you know, it's just 10x, I couldn't ask for more.

Then, I told myself it's time to stop, or else I will have a hard day! It's truely relaxing...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Selling my half Sky90

I have been co-owning a Takahashi Sky90 with an observing buddy. It's more like an impulse purchase, since another observing buddy decided to sell his Sky90 quick, and since I had been dreaming about a good refractor for long, I took the chance!

In these few years, I didn't really use it much. I have been trying to use it for visual observation, for side walk astronomy, for solar/lunar imaging, and even planets. Experienced amateurs will immediately have a big question in mind....

Yes, isn't the Sky90 more for deep sky imaging?

You're right. I didn't fully use it, and that's what I mean. For the above purpose, maybe my C5 will do even better in terms of portability and also aperture. I even briefly owned a Extender Q in order to explore the high power usage of the Sky90, but it was not impressive after all. For deep sky imaging, I guess that I lacked a good mount, but I don't think that I will buy one any time soon. I would prefer the simplicity of camera lens, as well as for the portability.

I know my observing buddy will use it for better than me, as he did in the past few years.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

20081109 Sun

It turns cooler today, a real feeling of fall. The humidity drops and it's really comfortable.

There was so much cloudy today, both the seeing and transparency were very bad. I couldn't take any decent clips and so I placed the whole compressed AVI here, and you can still see some prominences and surface detail when the cloud got thinner.

Just a record.

Friday, November 07, 2008

20081107 Moon

Telescope: Tele Vue Ranger
Camera: Canon 450D
Eyepiece: Tele Vue Nagler 13mm Type 6
Mount: Meade LXD55

Seeing is rather good at 7/10, transparency also quite nice at 5-6/10.


Nothing beats the eyepiece view, or else all of us will just buy magazines and books instead of owning our own equipment?

The moon looks so nice especially with a wide 82 degree field of view, you feel like you're watching the moon out there. It's 3 dimensional! There are some cloud floating around and you can actually feel that the cloud is closer, and some cloud are higher than the others, etc. It's just fantastic! Don't forget to insert your eyepiece in the focuser.


Mirror lock-up, spot metering was used, live view is used for focusing. The chromatic abberation nearly gone when the focus is correct. I've tried EV-0, EV-1 and EV-2. The first few are taken in JPG.



EV-2, this is probably the best exposed:-

Stacked RAW processed:-

[ Stacked version pending... ]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Time and Money

It's funny when people said, when you're a student, you have time, but you have no money; but then when you grow up, you will have more money but you will be in lack of time. That's real for most people, so what could we do?

In short, I would say, we shall try to take advantage of our advantages in different phrase of our life.

As you could see from my blog, when I was still a student, I took my small scope everywhere, to darker sky, even when I was going hiking and camping. That alone gives the best return of my investment (despite small). There is no substitute for dark sky! But it takes time to go there, and to spend your time there. Therefore, this is the single best thing that we could do when we have less money but more time.

Again, as you could see from my blog, now I'm more locked at home and my work. I don't have much money but of course, I could spend more now when compared to the good old days. So, what did I do now? Sometimes I even could not go out at night! Sungazing is one of the way out and this is my focus for these years. Next, planet imaging is great as well, for it could be done under very light polluted skies! And it takes far less time, you don't have to get very great polar alignment, you don't have to do hours of exposure, you don't have to have very clear sky! And you know, all these can even be done indoor with an open window. That's what I have been doing for all these years!

Astronomy is a life long hobby, you can enjoy it whenever and with whatever budget!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My C mount lenses

These are small TV lens, or some people call them CCTV lens, or C mount lens. Like all the other lenses, prime lens work better in terms of image quality and they are usually faster in terms of aperture.

Currently, I would say:

1. 2.3-6mm Compustar: for really wide field monitoring, in my 1/3" DMK 31AF03.AS, it even gives some fisheye view effect

2. 6mm Cosmicar and 25mm Fujinon: they allow the attachment of a B+W IR pass filter to do some interesting project, like IR astronomy. 6mm is wide enough for wide field and 25mm is close enough as medium power.

3. 75mm Fujinon and 150mm Cosmicar: they are more useful as guidescope now, and the 2-stop faster aperture of the 75mm should be great for field with only dimmer stars, and the 150mm is also fast enough for most cases which should allow me to guide my Canon 200mm f2.8L since the DSLR has bigger pixel.

4. Vivitar 1.5x: seems like useless now...