Saturday, 28 December 2013

ISS in the past year

It's time for some summary.
So far there were four occasions when I was able to take shots of the International Space Station.
Here they are in chronological order:






Yesterday at ISS hunt I had an approximate half an hour till 17:11 ISS pass. It was a bright clear sunset, Venus was such an obvious target to spent some time with. Although the air was shaking due the harsh wind blowing from east , when I set the controls to the heart of Venus :) the surprise came. 
I really never spent time on Venus, probably once but luckily it was a full Venus than. So never assumed a crescent Venus exists.

Than I realised how dumb I am, of course there is a crescent Venus. I found this drawing on twitter. It explains why we see the Venus the same way than we see our Moon, in different phases.

It also explaines why will Venus become from a sunset object to a sunrise object. Soon it disappears as it positions itself in-between Sun and Earth, just like Moon does. Of course Venus and Moon has a different orbit and motion relatively to Earth, but still the way they are lit is similar and results similar visual experience.

So see you Venus in the morning skies on the 11th January....

Friday, 27 December 2013

ISS today

Today's try on ISS reminds me how hard it is to capture a fine sharp image of it. Not my best attempt but still some details are visble. Also some photos below attached.
Over 7100 frames captured, but my guess is that the sharpness wasn't the best at all. I've done this a few times and this amount of frames should have a few very good one. 
To be honest ISS appeared at its highest of 35ยบ so because of its distance that might be result of my lost sharpness. Anyway it was a lovely evening and I did not come home empty handed :)))
The gif below shows its journey from west towards south-east. When it first appeared, coming from west just after an hour after sunset, Sun still reflecting on the solar panels. But as it kept moving into the direction of the dark side of Earth, less and less sunlight reflected back towards my eyes so less and less is visible from ISS from my location. By the end of the gif - approximately 2:30 mins - the solar panels disappeared completely.
Let's add that the whole duration of ISS's crossing the sky was roughly 6 mins but due to low clouds I couldn't continue shooting. 

A gif of 14 frames which I think has something to show -
during the journey it took in 2:30min crossing the sky.

The very first useful frame, probably the best with all four solar panels

Because of its orientation - I guess - already two of four solar panels are dissapeared

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Jupiter with surprise

I managed to capture the Red spot and the shadow of one of its moons Europa.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Earthshine on 20.2% lit Moon this morning
Canon 600D + 200mm lens

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sun down

The plan for today was capturing ISS transiting Sun. Well weather decided other way at that particular time so a bit of a disappointment. But I was able to take a few shots of the Sun with my DSLR using a 200mm lens. Here are a few shots and a gif (again). The only time and angle I could take photos resulted electrical cables crossing the Sun but I think it adds a unique feeling to the photos :)

Sea gull and spotted Sun

Sun, pigeon and rooftop

A processed photo of Sun

And here is a gif of the sea gull crossing the disk of Sun

Sunday, 20 October 2013

ISS observation

Tonight I have trieo capture ISS. It wasn't easy and still not really satisfied with result but practice makes perfect. Weather was clear but I have limited view from the place where I live. For one direction another direction has to be sacrifced, so I decided to stick with west and follow ISS till zenith. Unfortunate because that's the brightest phase, in the gif below it is the clearest - looks like a cross or a pole with equipments lol.
The frames that consists the gif aren't sharp enough, especially the very first few. I simply made it to see actually what movements are going on up there as it passes. The angle we see it is continuously changing. Honestly at first sight I couldn't figure out what part is what or what's the orientation of the spacecraft.

Here is a slightly processed photo of the best frame.

When I saw the ISS photos from the previous post it was quite surprising how different they look. For a long time I didn't even had a clue what is that exactly I see. So now after comparing the two photos it's clear that solar panels can't be seen on tonight's capture (right) - on the huge vertical pole are the panels supposedly. I guess next to those two big white tanks I can see some of the four solar panel lines crossing the big pole horizontally. 
But the middle part of the spacecraft is more detailed and if it will happen so that next time the solar panels going to be illuminated too, well I am looking forward :-)

ISS 2013.08.13 (left) and ISS 2013.10.20

I used a Skywatcher 200 Pds with a 2x Barlow lens. Canon 600D. 
Over 2200 frames were recorded in HD, 3x digital zoom. ISO 200, Exp. time 50 (if this helps).
Unfortunately only a few frames were good enought for further process.

Here is a photo of ISS from NASA website. It is easier to imagine what you see. On my photo on the left ISS has no visible solar panels - only a small glimpse at the attachments. But the two radiators (which I assumed as tanks earlier) are clear and a module as well paralell with the main pole. I marked the position of all the solar panels on both picture, 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

International Space Station (ISS) hunt once again - most likely not the last

It is a really short video (37 sec) of my latest International Space Station  (ISS) hunt which went just fine. Sky was clear of clouds so took my time and recorded two occasions. 
The first one was a tricky one. It was a bit dark to see ISS clear and bright but were no stars yet. So I simply wasn't able to focus my dslr on an object - which ideally a star. So I decided to leave the telescope and only use my Canon. 
The next occasion was a bit easier, could quickly focus my scope on Vega and do all the necessary  setting on the camera. 
MUST be stated that your finder scope / telrad must be spot on, I mean really spot on. Purely because during recording that's how you follow ISS passing by overhead. Through your finder scope / telrad, turning your scope manually and follow its journey causing minimal shake on the scope. 
Altogether 2000 frames have been recorded, but really 4 frames were okey. But probably this was the best one.

Finally the panels can be clearly seen

Processed with Registax - close up

Sunday, 11 August 2013

First day of Perseid meteor shower

Luckiest shot of my life through my telescope - perseid meteor right across my field of view

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Moon video from the 17th and 19th of July

It is a short video of two different observations, some fine details are revealing and the surface is just astonishing....

The first one was at Regents Park at the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers meeting - I assume the Moon was a bit low during that observation, that might be the reason of its yellowish colour.

The other obsarvation was at Kingsbury School. Through a good friend of mine I have been invited to show the Moon for a class of children. The weather was perfect, Moon was high up and the kids loved it even at the lowest magnificaton eyepiece they were blow away by the view. Who knows which one of them got the lifetime impression to do amazing things in astronomy and study it later on.

Tube case and flightcase

After a long search eventually I found the right case for my Skywatcher 200PDS tube. I ordered it from Germany, the brand called Geoptik and they offer cases for different equipments (cases for various scopes, for counterweights,  for eyepieces etc.). You can find them on eBay, trustworthy and you get the item fairly quick.

Travel kit

Perfect carry bag for midsized Newtonian (eBay)

Also luckily I found on eBay as well a flightcase for the rest of my equipment. A company in Croydon sells second hand items related to film production. Therefore they have flightcases in all shape and form, metal or plastic.... They allowed me to come by and look around in their warehouse, so after a litte search they found me the flightcase just perfect for my needs. For £60 which would be triple at least if brand new.

Flight case and eyepiece case

And just to complete the protection project, also found a little case for my eyepieces for £25 and is a very good bit of item too. The foam inside consist of little cubes you can take out or push it in (that's what I did) to form the right shape for each eyepiece. It's from eBay but it's box told me from Maplin actually.

Eyepieces safe in a hard case

So as the pics show everything from eyepieces to the mount, counterweights, will go to the flightcase and the tube into Geoptik case. Easy to carry with a 4 wheel trolley and easy to handle.
Feels good to acknowlede that all my equipments are safe to carry around, protected during storage mainly from dust and accidental damages. So from now on clear skies :-))

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ring Nebula (M57) and M56

Tonight Ring Nebula showed some more of itself. Still no proper polar alignment so 3sec photo restulted a fairly nice photo.
Also fir the very first time I found M56 cluster, quite bad shot but at least found it. It was so faint it was nearly impossible to see and the London light pollution does not help at all.

Star trail

Star trail


Ring Nebula (M57)

Ring Nebula with its central becoming a dwarf star

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Ring Nebula - my first deep sky object

Well it isn't fully correct, my very first deep sky target was the Orion Nebula but it isn't that hard to find and at winter time that is one of the easiest objects to admire.
But now that I managed to locate (with huge effort invested - not easy at all) Ring Nebula I must say this is my first one. Because it isn't that obvious to locate therefore it was the very first real challenge of mine.
Dissapointment in a way cos every novice astronomer have to face the fact - these objects do not look shiny and colorful through your scope, but faint and rather bluish/greyish. Also interesting fact that you need to aim looking to the object's surroundings to see the actual object sharp. It has a lot to do with human eye, we can't collect so wide spectrum of light through the scope that's why they look bluish...
Exceptions are astrophotos. A camera (dslr or ccd) is able to collect sufficient amount of light to reveal colors.
This is my first real deep sky photo with a Canon 600D. Not super at all due lack of proper polar alignment. And also startrails can be seen too.
But the way this photo was taken is my first success.
I do not use laptop at all, only scope and my dslr. It worked perfectly on planetary imaging, you could clearly see the planet on the camera's screen and do the settings accordingly.
The story changes with deep sky photography. Namely you can't see s**t. So you aim the scope roughly according to your finder scope, focusing is extremely frustrating because you can't see what you're doing.
The only way to make sure focus is correct to take several shots and check them on camera's screen immediately afterwards. So it requires HUGE amount of patience. Doesn't work without it.
All in all my final result is here. Not many objects can be seen from my back garden due tree obstruction. SkySafari app showed that theoretically I should be okey with Ring Nebula.
It is only a sinlge 10sec shot at ISO 800. On that night I took a few shots but when I checked them on camera screen couldn't discover anything and already acknowledged my first failure....
So next day uploaded them onto my PC and suddenly I realized that one of those shots actually captured somthing.

I really was over the.... hmmmm Ring Nebula lol

Ring Nebula

Ring Nebula by Hubble Telescope

Saturday, 8 June 2013

International Space Station (ISS)

Very first attempt, this picture is actually one frame from an approximate 30 sec. video which had 1100 frames. Only one frame shows the overexposed ISS and funnily looks like a skiing rabbit lol.

International Space Station

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Discovering prime focus

The title refers to my attempt to start making more detailed photos, so I did some research and the surprising result hit me. I really thought the key to a good photo is eyepiece (EP) projection rather than prime focus.
Well looks like I was wrong.

Prime focus on the left and EP projection on the right

An original size Prime focus photo

So the comparison of the best three photos of Saturn (Dated 04.28., 05.03., 05.04.)

And a photo by Hubble

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Saturn opposition 28th April

Officially this is the brightest appearance of Saturn on the night sky, so had some free time to try hunt it down on a nice picture

as it was captured

and in larger

Light at the end of tunnel

I must say slowly I began to understand what to do and how. Still a long long way to go, but signs of improvement tells me that it's getting better.
The photos below were taken during April, but Registax and Photoshop are a must to get a fine result.




Saturday, 27 April 2013

Registax 6 tutorial

I found this tutorial extremely straight forward, excellent explanation how to start with Registax once installed on your PC.
Click on link below to open the video

Fitting Skywatcher SynScan Goto Kit

bits and pieces (and grease in the little white tube)


R.A. axis before fitting

 R.A. motor fitted ( Dec Out and R.A. in ports)

 everything in it's right place

 motor controller and hand control

  motor controller

 Skywatcher Power Tank 7A

and a video of it's operation (no scope and counterweights on)