September 23, 2012

Cant Escape the Lights

It sure is a lot darker once you get out of the city, but you are by no means free of light pollution. Here, the lights of Courtenay light up the sky from about 20 km away.

September 21, 2012

A Stunning Milky Way

I apologize for the infrequency of posts of late, but settling into a new semester of school while working is a bit busy. I will try to get back on with posts every day, but no promises.

This is a picture of the Milky Way arching its majestic way across the skies of Merville. I nearly drove my car into the ditch on numerous occasions for the sheer majesty of this celestial river of light.

September 17, 2012

Green Trees Dark Skys

I think the title says it all in this one. It is neat to see what parts of the trees moved and what parts were still. This is a composite of two photos.

September 9, 2012

Looking Out

The telescope pointing at a nearly full moon. An airplane crossed the sky in this picture.

September 6, 2012

Blue Snowball

This is NGC 7662 known also by the slightly more charismatic name the Blue Snowball. It is a planetary nebula like the Dumbell Nebula and the Ring Nebula which I have featured pictures of. This picture was fun to take because I was looking at pictures of planetary nebulae on the internet trying to find ones to take photos of. I saw a picture of this one and decided to take a picture of it. I turned the telescope to it, pressed the shutter, and out popped this picture a 30 second exposure later, looking almost identical to the picture I had seen online.

September 5, 2012

The Littlest One

Take a look at this. Watch it a few times...See what you can see.

If you saw one of the dots moving you saw the same thing I did. What is that moving dot you might be thinking...I have the answer. That dot is Pluto, once a fully fledged planet, now just a dwarf planet hanging out in the far outer reaches of the solar system.

The two images were taken almost exactly 24 hours apart. The dots that stay still are stars in the background, and anything which moves is in our solar system. This is one of the ways of finding asteroids and Kuiper belt objects. Take images a day or two apart then flip back and forth between them to see if anything moves.

September 4, 2012

Late Night Heavy Lifting

The Dumbell Nebula. M27. First noted by Charles Messier in 1764, this spectacular planetary nebula lies about 1200 light years away. Contrary to its name, a planetary nebula has nothing to do with planets. They were named that for their disc like appearance in early telescopes, much like planets.

What we now know them to be is a shell of gas ejected by a star as it begins to collapse at the end of its life. The outer layers of the star are thrown off and expand out into space. This particular nebula is expanding at about 17 miles per second. In another few thousand years the gas will expand to the point that it is too diffuse to see and the white dwarf at its center will be all that remains.

In this nebula you can see the bright white dwarf right at the center of the nebula. It is that star which lights up the hot gasses. The different colors come from the different gasses. Red is hydrogen gas and the blue green is mostly oxygen.

September 3, 2012

The Moon of Yesternight

I know that I have posted a fair few pictures of the moon before, but this one is a little different. This is a composite of photos I took last night with the 32 inch telescope at UVic. The field of view is very small on the telescope, so to cover the entire moon I needed to take about 30 photos. When combined, that produced a picture that is 14000x11000 pixels. To put that in perspective, the image is 154 megapixels! If my calculations are correct, that means that the picture would be about 12 feet wide if it was displayed at the full resolution zoomed to the real size.

The image here is much smaller as I had to compress the file to upload it. If anyone is interested, I could send the full resolution picture so that you can take a look. It is cool to be able to poke around on the moon with it.

September 2, 2012

Blast from the past

There is nothing particularily special going on in this picture. I took it last december from Mt Douglas Park.

Clearly seen are Taurus and Orion.

September 1, 2012

Dipper Digging Coal

Here is something a little different. This is the big dipper from the bottom of a little gully in a coal field.

As you can see, the stars are out of focus. That is because I focused on the ground just in front of the camera.

I sat the camera down on the ground and focused it. I pressed the shutter for a 30 second exposure, then shone a flashlight across the gull for a second or two.

I think the effect is kinda neat! I think it looks like the dipper has been digging in the dirt.