The ISS with BEAM and the Ring Nebula

Posted in ASTRO on June 7, 2016 by maxpho

Ten days ago the ISS astronauts inflated the BEAM module, a new concept that may help (a lot) with the construction of large space stations, Mars and Moon exploration modules.

On the night of May 28 the ISS had a pass over my location at over 65 degrees above the horizon. On the same day the BEAM module was inflated, so I was hoping for good seeing to get a good resolution of this module. Together with my wife I’ve prepared the 8 inch scope and imaged the pass. Unfortunately, the seeing was bad, and thus the images are of poor quality. Nevertheless, some structural details are easily observed.

ISS with BEAM May 28, 2016.jpg

A comparison from the same session with the visible planets, again under the same poor conditions. Not the large apparent size of the ISS:


And another image, this time a test-shot from May 31, using the 14 inch scope and the ASI 174MM camera at the focal plane (F/5) with an UV/IR cut filter, and no coma corrector. 274 frames, each a 1 second exposure, were used for the image. A lot of light pollution and bad seeing, but details inside this wonderful nebula are discernible.

M 57 MAY 31.jpg

M 51 galaxy – June 2, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on June 3, 2016 by maxpho

This shot is the result of over 1000 frames, each a 4 second sub, acquired on a night with a lot of light pollution (like every other night for my location) and some humidity. The imaging scope was the 14 inch Newtonian at F/5, with the Baader MPCC mounted, and the ASI 174MM camera with no filter. Seeing was not the best in the world, and some ambient lights were also interfering with the acquisition. The result is a bit under my goal, but considering the conditions, it turned out alright. I will give this galaxy another try in more decent conditions.

M51 Max.jpg

Mars – June 2, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on June 3, 2016 by maxpho

It is very difficult to observe Mars these days. Despite presenting a large apparent diameter (due to a rather close proximity to Earth) the Red Planet glides only around 22 degrees above the horizon at my location (45 degrees North). The atmospheric seeing is, of course, rather bad at that altitude, and thus imaging Mars is more of an exercise rather than trying to get the best details possible. And so, an exercise was conducted on the night of June 2, just days after the planet’s opposition. Following is the resulted near-infrared image.

Mars June 2, 2016.jpg

H-alpha Sun – May 31, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on May 31, 2016 by maxpho

Today I was fortunate enough to get my hands, for a few tens of minutes, on a Coronado 90 H-alpha telescope. Despite the bad seeing conditions (4/10) the view through the eyepiece was superb at low magnification.

Of course I’ve also attached the ASI 174MM camera and acquired a few image sequences.

Following is a full-disk image, with added color for effect; this is close to what the Sun looked through the eyepiece (well, the actual view was a bit more red):


And a different processing, with an inverted disk but positive protuberances, for a more…artistic effect:


Also, a detail shot:


AR 2546 – May 23, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on May 24, 2016 by maxpho

A few shots presenting giant sunspot AR 2546 as it nears the solar limb. Images acquired with the 8 inch Newtonian and ASI 174MM camera, under medium seeing conditions (with a few seconds of very nice seeing).

AR2546 May23, 2916.jpg


2546 bw.jpg

Note the details inside the umbra in this two-shots HDR image:

2546 col.jpg

Sunspot AR2546 – May 22, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on May 22, 2016 by maxpho

Looking at the following image I can only think: “We live on a really small planet…”.

The shot was acquired using a filtered 8 inch homemade Newtonian and ASI 174MM camera with a Ha (30nm bandwidth) filter (for contrast), under poor seeing conditions. 500frames were stacked out of 7000. Note the circle showing the size of Earth for comparison.

ar2546 may22.jpg

Some insect macrophotography – May 2016

Posted in Canaraua Fetii, Comana, Plimbari, Specii rare on May 21, 2016 by maxpho

During a few expeditions at the beginning of May, I’ve managed to get a few pictures of some beautiful butterflies and other insects, some of which are threatened with extinction in a few locations due to the “great human intervention”. I will not get in depth with the reasons why this happens more and more often in our country. I will, perhaps one day, write a more comprehensive article about this, but I already believe it will not have any impact…

And now the shots:

Parnassius mnemosine distincta:

parnassius 1.jpg

parnassius 8.jpg

parnassius 9.jpg

parnassius 3.jpg

parnassius 2.jpg

parnassius 5.jpg

parnassius 4.jpg

parnassius 6.jpg

parnassius 7.jpg

Melitaea phoebe phoebe:

melithea 1.jpg

melithea 2.jpg

Glaucopsyche alexis alexis:

licenid 1.jpg

licenid 2.jpg


Carcharodus orientalis orientalis:

HESPE 2.jpg


Saturnia pavonia pavonia (only eggs and larva):



Zerynthia polyxena polyxena (adult female and eggs):


And other insects:





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