Flintstone Stargazing

October 4, 2011

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd

I was able to tease out the image of the comet and here’s the result. I accidentally recorded this as JPG images instead of RAW, so I had to use a few more processing tricks to get it to look decent. I may try again soon, if it stays clear. Next time, I’m planning on making sure I’m set to RAW images on the camera first.

October 2, 2010

Comet 103P/Hartley on 10/2/10

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, comet, Observation Journal — Tags: — Ed @ 9:00 am

I set the alarm for 4:15am this morning and got up to get some images of Comet 103P/Hartley which is a nearly naked eye object now.

I got a few other images which I’ll probably post later.

January 4, 2008

Comet 8P/Tuttle – My Coolest Comet Photo Yet

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, comet, Comets, Observation Journal — Tags: — Ed @ 1:14 am

Comet 8P/Tuttle on 1/3/08

Rather than have the software track on a star like I normally do, I decided to have it track on the comet instead. Boy am I glad I did. I’ve seen these kinds of photos before, but never taken one. Comet 8P/Tuttle is moving so fast against the background of stars that in the 16 minutes it took to take this image (66 x 15s) you can see the background stars moving while the comet stays nice and center. Comet Holmes, which I’ve imaged innumerable times, really wouldn’t move in the time spans that I was taking images. It was clearly moving day to day, but it might only move twice as far as this in a day.

Anyway, I took a number of other images tonight, but I’m going to go outside and see if I can see any of the meteor shower and then go to bed. I’ll process tomorrow evening, if I have time.

Update: I went outside for about 15 minutes – that’s all I could take – and saw 4 meteors. The first was the best – it was bright blue streaking through Cassiopeia, then broke into several smaller fragments before disappearing. The others weren’t nearly as exciting (though one was green). Particularly since it’s 20°F out right now with a little bit of a breeze. I’m off to bed. Let me know if anyone stayed/got up to watch and saw anything exciting. Or maybe you shouldn’t – I’m not sure I want to know what I missed.

December 16, 2007

The Moon on 12/16/07

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, comet, Moon, Observation Journal — Tags: , — Ed @ 9:23 pm

The Moon on 12/16/07

It’s really cold outside, but the sky is pretty clear after a couple cloudy days. The Moon is nearly half full now and the light from the Sun is displaying the craters near the terminator in stark relief. It was really beautiful through the eyepiece of my scope – there’s just so much more detail than you can see in these images.

I also tried to get an image of Comet 17P/Holmes, which is absolutely huge now. Even with my focal reducer it’s way too big for a single shot. I did a manual drizzle to get a bit more of the comet in view, but ran out of time to get the whole thing – I really just got the main body and not the end of the tail.

Comet 17P/Holmes on 12/16/07
Comet 17P/Holmes on 12/16/07

December 11, 2007

Comet 8P/Tuttle on 12/11/07

Comet 8P/Tuttle (the fuzzy thing on the right) on 12/11/07

Comet 8P/Tuttle is a faint (magnitude 8 ) comet currently found in the constellation Cepheus. It’s too faint for the naked eye (here in Flintstone, at best I can see mag 6 and really mag 7 is essentially the limit for naked eye viewing), but I was able to find it pretty easy with my telescope. It’s currently pretty faint, but is expected to grow brighter. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll have a really big outburst like Comet 17P/Holmes.

I also got these two Messier Objects – M77 and M78. This brings my Messier total to 59 or 54% of the 110 Messier Objects.

M77 on 12/11/07

M78 on 12/11/07

Comet 17P/Holmes on 12/11/07

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, comet, Observation Journal — Tags: — Ed @ 7:56 pm

Comet 17P/Holmes on 12/11/07

Comet Holmes is getting huge! Even with my focal reducer, which shrinks the image by 33% (it shows 50% more) I still had to stitch a ton of images together to get this image of the comet. It’s about 4 times the area of the Moon (which I imaged earlier tonight). Tonight is so nice and warm and clear that I’ll probably be out here until quite late.

Update on Comet Ed

Filed under: astronomy, comet, Comets — Tags: — Ed @ 9:59 am

Alright – I was just pointed by a commenter on flickr (who commented on my simulation below) to a further article here which indicated that the “Comet” I saw was a rocket upper stage venting gas. It created a “fan shaped” cloud which is exactly what I saw. Several people on this thread also saw it. I’m not sure if anyone got an image yet, but if I find one, I’ll post a link. So it wasn’t a cloud after all…

Update: Spaceweather.com has images and VIDEO!

December 10, 2007

I spotted a new comet . . . or not.

Filed under: astronomy, Clouds, comet — Tags: , — Ed @ 8:08 pm

This evening while I was at scouts (I’m a Cub Scout leader), I was outside setting up a scavenger hunt for the kids when at 6:50 I looked up in the night sky and nearly directly overhead was a magnitude 1 comet! The core was exceptionally bright (at least mag 1) and the coma was very large – the whole thing was nearly the size of the moon in appearance. In order to ensure I wasn’t hallucinating, I immediately called David and told him to go outside and look up in the sky. He saw it too – it was brilliant – brighter than Hale-Bopp (the brightest I’ve ever seen). Because I couldn’t just leave the scout meeting (I’m the leader, after all), I had to go inside and couldn’t observe for a while, though I kept looking at it through the meeting. By the time we got outside again, about 15 minutes later, the comet had moved against the background of the stars moving north, not with the clouds that were in the sky and not in the same direction. However, by then, the core wasn’t really visible anymore – just the coma. While the scavenger hunt continued, I kept trying to get a good look though the lights around the church are pretty bright but I talked to David a couple of times and he was seeing the same things. By the time the meeting ended, the clouds had covered where the new comet (let’s call it Comet Ed) was and I headed home, hoping to use my scope to get a picture with my telescope. While on the way home, David informed me that he thinks he discovered what it was in this article which was posted this evening. After talking with him I think it probably was, indeed something of that sort. 

So I guess the world will have to wait a bit longer for Comet Ed – I think it probably was an extremely high altitude cloud that at 6:50 was still catching some of the suns setting rays. I can’t describe how excited I was – I literally had goosebumps. I just wish I’d brought my camera and binoculars. I should keep my binoculars in the truck for just this kind of thing in the future….

Further thoughts: I just plugged in the location and time into my Starry Night software and if it is to be believed the Sun would have been directly visible at 250km above my location and so extremely high clouds should have been able to still catch sunlight refracting through the atmosphere maybe as low as 50km (that’s a guess) or perhaps lower. It’s strange to think that even though it’s very dark here on the ground that if you go high enough, you might still be able to see the Sun.

Comet Ed (simulation) on 12/10/07
Comet Ed :)

This is what it looked like to me – I’ve recreated it in Photoshop, using a background from my Starry Night software.

Update: See this new post for what I actually saw.

December 6, 2007

Comet 17P/Holmes time lapse through December 6

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, comet, Observation Journal — Tags: — Ed @ 9:50 pm

Comet 17P/Holmes complete time lapse from 10/26/07 to 12/6/07

Above is the complete time lapse with every daily image I have taken. Below is the edited version where I have removed the images that overlap one another. The final two images are placed approximately because I have not had time to capture the background stars in order to place them exactly. Once I have a clear evening, I’ll need to go back and fill that in. These images are getting huge – they are currently 19.8 megapixels (9000×2200).

Comet 17P/Holmes edited time lapse from 10/26/07 to 12/6/07
Comet 17P/Holmes edited time lapse from 10/26/07 to 12/6/07

Comet 17P/Holmes on 12/6/07

Filed under: astronomy, Astrophotography, comet, Observation Journal — Tags: — Ed @ 8:20 pm

Comet 17P/Holmes on 12/6/07

Here’s tonight’s comet photo – I snagged it right before the night clouds moved in and covered the sky. Since I won’t be able to do any more observing this evening, I’m going to go ahead and work on my composite comet image – I’ll upload it once I’m done.

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