Sunday, January 12, 2014

the king is dead, long live the king...comet lovejoy

another comet of the century turned out to be a bust
but despite comet ISON's demise during it's pass by the sun
there's another comet out

while comet lovejoy is by no means comet of the century
it's one of the best comets i've been able to photograph from light polluted skies:


this one is fairly bright, but low in the sky
rises above my treeline at 15 degrees in the east at 5 AM, too bright to photograph by 6
so only had a narrow window to image it.
this is a stack of 20x2 minute exposures tracking on the head of the comet
which is moving relative to the stars, explaining the trails

here's an animation of the 20 individual frames aligned on the stars
showing the comet's motion (big file):

comet lovejoy motion

should remain fairly bright thru the month of january, rising higher in the sky
shame it's been overshadowed by ISON. 

bill w

Thursday, January 9, 2014

new year's sun spots, *solar winter storm warning tonight*

last year was the year of the solar maximum
peak in the 11 year cycle of sunspot activity
this is related to the sun's magnetic field flipping
water world with fire
which means this year is...
the year after the solar maximum
and still pretty good for solar activity so far.

took some relatively high power images of sun spots on new year's day:


there was some interesting activity just visible on the other edge:

the sun's surface rotates with a period of approximately 28 days when viewed from earth...
so here it is a few days later on 1/5/14 facing us:
this was a big one which could be easily seen without magnification (looking thru filter)

on 1/7/14 a coronal mass ejection was launched from this spot aimed right at us
as a result, tonight we're going to get hit by plasma consisting of charged protons, electrons, alpha particles and such...
which means major aurora activity tonight at the poles
there's a slight chance that you may see some activity if you live moderately far north
so take a look outside
you may see some strange lights

for more on this check out
http://www.spaceweather.com/

Monday, January 6, 2014

first light from new home: Christmas Jupiter

haven't imaged in about 6 months due to move/move/remodel... Jupiter is just past opposition now and should be in excellent position for viewing for the rest of January. Here's my first light image with a new camera from new location, Jupiter on Xmas night:

unfortunately, the seeing was terrible, amazed i was able to pull anything out at all. this is an animation of two shots taken about 30 minutes apart. shows the great red spot (lower left) just rotating into view.
here it is the next night (again terrible seeing)

you can see the great red spot lower left, Io's shadow upper mid, and a hint of Io just above and to the right of it's shadow.

cheers