Saturday, March 29, 2008
Prominences and filaments
Today I went outside with my Coronado PST to do a little solar observing. I observed for about one and a half hour and from 13.50 until 14.20 local time I made a sketch of the Sun using different Red, Yellow, Orange and Grey soft pencils. The paper I used was black sketching paper. I also used three different erasers. As a smudging tool I used my finger. The technique I used was adapted from the book "Astronomical Sketching" by Handy et al. The picture below shows the result I got from my observing session. Overall I counted three groups of three prominences each. One on 3 o'clock, another on 4 o'clock and the last between five and 6 o'clock. On 9 o'clock I detected a lonely prominence. On 3 o'clock I saw two prominences that were completely detached from the solar disc. The same goes for two prominences at almost six o'clock. In the 4 o'clock group and the six o'clock group I saw two prominences looking like a mushroom. I think they are called "hedgerows" by official classification. I also found two filaments. One was a dark "S" formed structure about 1 o'clock; the other was a small half circle around a much lighter pelage at 5 o'clock.

The sketch was made using a low cost 15 mm Ultrawide (66 degrees) eyepiece with long eye-relief from Sky watcher. The picture was much clearer and showed more detail than my 15mm Vixen Lanthanum. The latter is absolutely darker, and much more expensive (about 5 times the price of the Skywatcher 15mm). Other eyepieces that were used during observing were the 21mm Denkemeier, 12 mm Nagler T4 and the 9mm Ultrawide from Skywatcher. I hope the Sun will start showing a little more details in the H-Alpha band in the next few months. I really enjoyed the H-alpha sketching. It makes you look very careful for details.


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Posted by Math on 03/29 at 03:32 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Solar log | Print
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Star party at Bel Any
Last weekend we had a small star-party in Any Rieux Martin in the northern part of France. The weather was just wonderful and on Friday and Saturday night we could observe through the night. I had a lot of first time viewings of some fantastic objects like the Flame Nebula and the complete Rosette Nebula. I also had the chance to observe a few Messier objects near the southern horizon (M 79, M 41 and M93). A detailed report will be logged later on this month, but here are a few images that were taken on the first evening. Click on the images to enlarge.

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Posted by Math on 02/13 at 01:16 PM | (1) Comments | filed in: General | Print
Monday, December 24, 2007
22 degree halo around the Moon
I just went outside and saw this huge 22 degree halo around the Moon. Very impressive. It even had Mars within the halo. Also notice how dark the sky is inside the halo. The images were shot with the Nikon Coolpix 4500 mounted on a tripod. Exposure time 8 seconds. I also used a wide angle lens for the coolpix. This was the first time ever I saw such a large halo around the Moon.


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Posted by Math on 12/24 at 04:03 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Print
The Moon and Mars
When we woke up this morning the fog had cleared and we could see the Moon and Mars together in the western sky. I shot these two images with the coolpix 4500 mounted on a tripod.

Enjoy!



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Posted by Math on 12/24 at 12:44 AM | (0) Comments | filed in: Solar sytem scraps | Print
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Sketching Mars
On the night of December 11 I observed Mars from 20.30 UT until 22.00 UT. I use the 300mm Orion Optics UK on a dobsonian mount. The eyepieces used were the 12mm Nagler and the 7mm Pentax. The seeing was not to good, so I was limited to medium magnifications. Still every now and again there were some fine details visible on the surface of mars. The sketch below should is just a rough impression from what I saw that night. You can see I identified a dark area looking like a large bird. The body of the bird (central part) is Syrtis Major. The wings are Mare Tyrrehnum and Mare Serpentis. I also detected the North Pole and a dark area right above the North Pole, probably Utopia.

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It was made with the using the 7mm Pentax XW, giving a magnification of 229x. Of course Mars didn’t look as big as the circle on the paper, but I like to sketch objects on a larger scale. Some of the techniques used for sketching Mars come from the book “Astronomical Sketching” from the Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series, a book which I can highly recommend.




Posted by Math on 12/23 at 02:54 AM | (0) Comments | filed in: Planets | Print
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
M 103 in Cassiopeia
On December the 16th I observed M103 in Cassiopeia with the 300mm f 5.3 dobson. This wonderful little cluster stands out well from the surrounding star field, and looks like a small Christmas tree. I counted 27+ stars in an area of 7’ diameter. There are many triangles and other asterisms visible in M103. This makes the sketching a lot easier. The sketch below was made using the 7mm Pentax. The faintest stars were added with the help of the 7mm Pentax. I could not detect any glow of unresolved stars, but I sometimes saw very faint stars popping in and out of view with using averted vision and a black cloak over my head.

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Posted by Math on 12/18 at 11:21 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Deepsky log | Print
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Comet Holmes
During the last few weeks I observed Comet Holmes on a few occasions, and I have seen it change gradually. The first time I got a chance to see Holmes was on October 30th. The core looked very bright and compact, surrounded by a more or less faint halo. There was a very sharp and distinct division between the border and halo. Right on the borderline between the halo and the core was a bright star visible. I observed Holmes with the 85mm Zeiss and a zoom-eyepiece at 60x. The field of view was a little more than 1 degree. The sketch below should give you an idea of the view. North is up and east is to the left.

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Over the weeks I saw the halo growing in size. The core became less bright and the sharp boundary between core and halo started to vanish. Until now, the most beautiful sight of the comet was on the night of November the 17th. I observed the comet with the 12x60 Skymaster (Celestron) binocular mounted on the SkyWindow. The generous field of view of this binocular is 5.7 degrees. Comet Holmes had moved right up to the Alpha Persei Cluster and both the comet and the cluster were visible in the same field of view. The sketch below again should give you an idea. On this sketch North is to the left and and East is at the top (these strange directions are caused by viewing with the SkyWindow).

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The halo looked very large and the core was still there, but it seemed more or less oval. As I mentioned earlier, the division between core and halo was not very distinct. In Alpha Persei I could detect three stars that showed some color. Alpha Persei was yellowish, and at two o’clock I detected a couple of contrasting stars. One seemed orange-red and the other seemed to be very light blue. The cluster and the comet formed a stunning pair, and I observed it for about an hour to an hour and a half. The sketch took me about 45 minutes.

Posted by Math on 11/25 at 01:25 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Solar sytem scraps | Print
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Sundog on the Alm
At the moment I'm staying on the Emberger Alm in Austria to do some deepsky observing and a bit of lunar observing as well. We arrived on Sunday and we had three clear nights on a row. I am getting a little tired with all these short nights. A detailed report will follow later on this year. During daytime there is also plenty to observe, like this Sundog on monday afternoon. Enjoy the images!

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Posted by Math on 10/02 at 02:39 AM | (0) Comments | filed in: Atmospheric optics | Print
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