July 31, 2012


I know what you are thinking...No those were not put there by mistake. They are not astrophotos in anyway, and they are not even that good of photos besides that. The way that I took them is what makes them acceptable to put up here.

These were taken with my camera. The thing that sets them apart from any other photos I have taken is that there was no lens whatsoever attached to the camera. I was just holding the body. Normally there is no way at all to take a picture that looks like anything when you do that. There is however a way if you want to do it.

Here is a picture of what I was doing except replace my hand with the ccd in the camera.

It is a strange picture, but what is happening is that the image is coming through the telescope and being projected onto my hand. I think that is just the neatest thing! To do this, take the eyepeice out of the telescope, then move your hand back and forth until the image gets in focus.

As I said, not really astrophotos, but it is used in astronomy on occasion. I dont know if you recall the posts from the transit of Venus, but one of them showed a projected image of the sun.

There it is below. That is just the same thing, except all machined to work properly.

I thought it would be cool to try, and it turns out that it was!
I will get back to actual astrophotos tomorrow, this was just a fun thing that I thought I would show you.

July 30, 2012

Da Moon

This is the moon. I took this through my 4 inch refracting telescope with my camera attached to it. Fun stuff.

July 29, 2012

Dome Panorama

This is a composite of 30 pictures featuring the 32 inch telescope at UVic. The dome is actually round, it is not oval shaped, but you get a sort of fish eye effect with the composite like this. The telescope is actually much closer to me than it appears.

It is impossible to get a good view of the dome with just one shot unless you have a fisheye, and I dont have one of those, so I decided to make a composite to achieve the same effect. The compositor software is called Microsoft ICE, for Image Composite Editor. It is actually very good and easy to use.

On the left is another picture from the side this time.

I have said this before, but I will say it again. We host an open house every Wednesday night from 9-10 in the summer and from 8-10 during the winter. We take the month of september off as the telescope is used heavily for classes then.

The open house is located on the 5th floor of the Bob Wright Center at the University of Victoria and is open to all ages. In addition to this telescope we have several smaller telescopes set up on our rooftop terrace, and a virtual planetarium set up on a projector.

Recently we have been looking at Arcturus, Alberio, Saturn, Mars, the Moon, M57, M51, and M13.

July 28, 2012

A Nebula if You Please

This is another very cool object. This is M57. With the 32 inch telescope it is just barely visible with the naked eye as a hazy white thing. Here you can clearly see the nebula as well as the white dwarf right in the center of it. The nebula was formed by a red giant star expelling its shell of gas into space on its way to becoming a white dwarf. This is the stunning result. Once again, not a great picture of it, but I am going to work on that!

July 27, 2012

Charles, Not Mark

This is the spectacular M13 globular cluster. I converted the image into greyscale to bump up the contrast a little. I will put the original color version at the end of the post. This is one of the objects that I am going to use to work on figuring out how to use this adaptor. It is very tricky to use as the focus is completely different and very difficult to achieve. Not the most spectacular photo, but really cool in my opinion!

Here is the original color version.

The red color comes largely from the light pollution I believe. It can be gotten rid of with some fancy tricks which I intend to learn, but for now, it stays. You can see how some of the stars are hotter and bluer, and how some are redder and cooler.

July 26, 2012

Not Running Away Again!

As you can probably see, this is a picture of the moon. That in itself is not super interesting. This picture was taken with my own camera. Again not super interesting as all of the photos here fit that description. What is interesting is that my camera had no lens attached to it when this photo was taken, save for the 32 inch telescope at UVic.

My very wonderful prof got an adaptor so that my, or any other camera can be attached to the telescope. This is very very cool. With the moon all it does is give you a close up view, but with faint objects, it opens whole new worlds of photographic possibility.

The next few posts will be from my first night trying out this adaptor, and while they will not be anything spectacular, I think they are very cool.

July 23, 2012

Airplanes in the Sky

This is once again from my yard in Courtenay where the skys are clear and dark. An airplane bound for Asia cuts across the picture.

July 22, 2012

Garden Under the Stars

The beautiful night sky over my moms beautiful garden in Merville.

Getting out of the city is so nice. The sky is just so amazingly clear and full of stars.

July 21, 2012


Victoria does not get a lot of lightning. It is a very rare thing to see in Victoria, and most of the time it is way off on the horizon.

This past Friday night, on the 13th in fact, there was a huge thunderstorm which went on for hours. It was all around for many kilometers in every direction, as well as right overhead.

Like any smart city dweller who sees very little lightning, I, along with many many others flocked to the top of the highest hill in Victoria to get a better view. Unlike many however, I stayed well away from the very top, and made sure not to sit on the gigantic metal railings which surround the parking lots and provide an excellent place to sit when there is not an electrical storm.

At first it was still light out, but after an hour or so, the sun set in a truly spectacular fashion.

Not long after that marvellous spectacle, the conditions got just right for lightning photography. The way you do it is to set up the camera on a tripod, point it in a direction with lots of flashes, compose a nice foreground, and set it to take 30 second or so exposures. Keep pressing the shutter until you get something!

Here are some of the results.

Not exactly astrophotos, but I think they are really neat, and I wanted to share them with you.

July 20, 2012

The Big Handle

Night over the city.

Most of the big dipper is visible in this shot looking out over the city.

July 19, 2012

Artsy Fartsy Me

This one is a bit more of an artsy shot than an astrophoto, but I think it is worth sharing with the world.

This was a magnificent sunset last week from the top of Mt Tolmie. It was one of the more spectacular sunsets I have ever seen, not the least because it took place during a rare Victoria thunderstorm.

July 18, 2012

Stars in the Back Yard

I took this just last night from outside my back door. I lay on my back with my camera set up on the tripod right beside me, put on some nice quiet Beatles tunes and just generally chilled out for 20 or so minutes while the series of 41 photos were shot.

Then I smushed them in the magic smushing program, and here is the final product.

July 17, 2012

Milky Way Again

Here is another one!

As you can probably guess this is another one of the Milky Way.

This one was taken a bit later, at about one in the morning actually from the top of Gonzales Hill.

I really like these Milky Way shots, so I am going to probably do some more of them. They are a fun new thing to play with.

July 16, 2012

Rocks and Reflections - Like

Five in a row - woot!

There is nothing extraordinary about this picture, but I kinda like it. I like the wave crashing around the rocks, and the lights on the water.

July 15, 2012

A Way Growing out of the Olyimpics

Wow, this is almost becoming a pattern again!

Here is another one of the Milky way. This is actually one of the shots from the picture with all the startrails from a few days ago.

I tweaked the colors a little bit to make the Milky Way stand out a bit better.

July 14, 2012

Two Chairs on a Rock

What is up with this, three posts in a row?!

I have long wanted to take a picture of this locale. I love the blue and red chairs out on the rock there. I have driven by many a time, but have never had my camera, or the weather wasn't good, or all manner of other excuses. In the background are a lighthouse, a big ship, some towers with lights on them all in front of the Olympic Peninsula.

July 13, 2012

Milky Way

Another post! Its a miracle!

This photo is of the Milky Way. You can see it stretching gracefully from the bottom right towards the top left.

You might be thinking, wait, are not all the stars in these pictures in the milky way? You would be right, they are all in our galaxy, the milky way. What we are seeing in this picture is the plane of the galaxy.

Our galaxy is a spiral galaxy. One thing that means is that it is flat like a disk. When we see the dust lanes and dense stars like there are in this image, we are looking directly along the plane of the galaxy.

To see this, it needs to be very dark. In Victoria there are not many place to see it, you kinda need to get down to Cattle Point or something very late at night. on a clear day in the summer.

If you can see it, it is spectacular. In the northern hemisphere it is not nearly as dramatic as the southern hemisphere as from the north we can only see out towards the edge of the galaxy rather than in towards the center, but on a good night it is wonderful.

After I wrote this, I sent some of these pictures to my astronomy prof for his viewing pleasure. He saw that I had been looking at Sagittarius, and told me about a nova that had happened a few days ago in Sagittarius. After much searching I have found it in this photo.

Click on the photo to get the larger version. I put two red boxes in the photo. At the very center of the small one is the nova. A small white dot.

The nova is called N 2012 Sag No 4. A nova is a huge explosion on the surface of a star. It is not a supernova when the entire star explodes, but is just on the surface. They happen when a white dwarf star in a binary system has a companion which overflows its Roche lobe. That means that the larger star transfers hydrogen and helium into an accretion disc around the white dwarf. The stuff in the disc falls down onto the white dwarf and piles up. Eventually, if enough stuff lands on it in just the right way, it will flare up, and become very bright for anywhere between 5 and 80 days.

Here is a close up of the area of the large box with the white dot in the center of the small box clearly visible.

Kinda geeky I know, but hey, Its what I do!

July 12, 2012

Big Long Startrails

I know that I have kinda stopped writing much on this blog, and that makes me sad, but I am just really busy and tired when I get home from work. I just thought I would post this in case anyone is still looking at this blog at all. I have a few more that I will post over the next few days as well

This one is a startrail shot that I have been meaning to take for a long time. This exposure is 1590 seconds total, but is actually a composite of 53 images taken all in a row.

There are all sorts of neat things in this picture I think. First off, the startrails. As you can see, the middle of the picture has straight trails, and towards the top and bottom there are curved trails.

This is because the celestial equator runs through the middle of the photo. The stars on the bottom are curving to go around the southern celestial pole, and the ones at the top will go around Polaris at the northern celestial pole.

There are also some cool man-made things in the photo. The most obvious are the airplanes going in and out of Seattle in the bottom left corner. There is also a trail from a satellite which comes right down the middle of the picture.