Archive for July, 2014

Saturnia pyri – Evolutie

Posted in Comana on July 15, 2014 by maxpho

Si ultima larva de Saturnia pyri si-a facut coconul si se transforma incet-incet in crisalida.

Acum, dupa aproape doua luni de la emergenta din oua, misiunea omizilor s-a incheiat cu succes, cel putin pentru trei dintre cele 37(!) de larve initiale.

Acum nu pot decat sa astept emergenta adultilor, in Mai 2015.

Pana atunci, o retrospectiva in imagini a evolutiei larvelor, cu imaginile scalate functie de dimensiunile aproximative ale subiectilor la momentul fotografierii:

Saturnia evolution b

Si o secventa cu aceleasi imagini insa aduse la o dimensiune comuna, pentru a se observa diferentele de morfologie de la stadiu la stadiu:

Saturnia evolution


(15 Iulie 2014)


Goodbye AR2108 and AR2109 – July 13, 2014

Posted in ASTRO on July 13, 2014 by maxpho

This is, for sure now, my last view of the large sunspot groups AR2108 and AR2109 for a while. I say “for a while” because some of the larger sunspot groups can survive for a few solar rotations, so it could be possible that in a few weeks time we will see this pair again. But until that moment comes, some last pictures of these “cooler regions”, in poor to very poor seeing conditions, part due to the very hot day (34+ Celsius). This time I’ve went to my observing location together with my brother in law, Mihai, who helped me with the collimation of my C11, using two interesting methods for daylight collimation (method one, method two).

The images below were all made using the C11 at F/10 and F/20 with full-aperture AstroSolar filter, and ASI120MM with Baader Green-CCD filter, in 2-3/10 seeing conditions. Of course, due to poor seeing, the scope was a bit off from perfect collimation (seen from the images below), but in those conditions I think our first test of daylight collimation of an SCT was a success.

The first image, depicting AR2108 and AR2109 on and near the limb:

Goodbye July 13

The image above was featured on the first page of SpaceWeather.

Same subjects, but at lower magnification:

Departing sunspots 1

And two other sunspot groups…



and AR2116:


Hope the Sun will come up with another set of large sunspot groups soon!


(July 13, 2014)

Saturnia pyri – Omizi (Stadiul V) – partea a IV-a

Posted in Comana on July 12, 2014 by maxpho

Si cu o oarecare intarziere, revin cu informatii noi legate de evolutia larvelor de Saturnia pyri.

La momentul actual, doua dintre cele trei larve si-au facut coconii si se transforma in crisalide, pe cand cea de a treia inca…mananca.

Fotografiile de mai jos prezinta cea mai mica dintre larve, pe 10 iulie (cand au fost relizate fotografiile) avand “doar” 90mm lungime.

Acum (pe 12 iulie) are deja peste 100mm lungime.

IMG_9848 9CM prel



Astept cu nerabdare transformarea ultimei larve…


(12 Iulie 2014)

Departing sunspots – July 12, 2014

Posted in ASTRO on July 12, 2014 by maxpho

This is perhaps my last view of the large sunspot groups that captured the attention of many solar observers around the world in the last few days.

I had only a short window of around 30 seconds today to capture 800 frames in poor seeing conditions, and that was because a large front of clouds rolled in, despite a very promising morning with clear blue skies.

The image below is a 300 frame stack in 2-4/10 seeing conditions with the TS 115mm APO Refractor operating at F/17 with AstroSolar full-aperture filter and ASI120MM camera with Baader Green-CCD filter.

Sunspot groups AR2108 and AR2109 are saying “Goodbye”:



(July 12, 2014)

Sunspot groups AR2109 and AR2108 – July 7, 2014

Posted in ASTRO on July 10, 2014 by maxpho

The two largest sunspot groups on the Sun this week looked quite similar on July 7, a day before my previous post. This time I’ve used my 115mm F/7 APO Refractor at F/22 and F/35, the ASI120MM camera with Baader Green CCD filter. Seeing 5/10.

The wide view:

Sunspots of July 7

Group AR2108:

Griup 2108

And group AR2109:

Group 2109

And also a small animation showing some of the best seeing moments at the time of acquisition:

Seeing conditions


(July 10, 2014)

Sunspot groups AR2108 and AR2109 – July 8, 2014

Posted in ASTRO on July 9, 2014 by maxpho

I have finally decided to get the C11 (280mm) SCT outside for a short solar astrophotography session. It was a good choice. The view of the current Earth-facing sunspot groups was fantastic despite of very few good seeing moments.

The equipment for the following images: C11 at F/10 and F/20 with full aperture AstroSolar filter, ASI120MM with Baader Green CCD filter. Seeing 4-5/10.

A wide-field image of the two groups:

the sisters

And close-ups of each of the groups.




ar 2109

The main spots of each group were very interesting with lots of inner details and fine structures visible, despite the rather poor seeing conditions.



Hopefully I will have another chance of getting better images of this sunspot groups the next days…


(July 9, 2014)

ISS, Sun and sunspots – July 5th, 2014

Posted in ASTRO, Tranzite ISS on July 7, 2014 by maxpho

What a great Saturday! It should have been a “Sun-day”. At least for myself, my wife and her brother.

After starting the day with some quick looks through the eyepiece at the great sunspot groups facing the Earth, we’ve traveled for 40 kilometers towards the South, near the city of Daia, Giurgiu. There we’ve mounted our instruments on a hill, at 30 plus degrees Celsius. The reason for this excursion was that from this location the International Space Station would pass near some of the sunspot groups visible at the time, and I was eager to try something new: catch the ISS transiting the Sun at a higher focal length but with a much shorter field of view. This was possible after some calculations were made with pencil and paper as tools, to approximate where should we position ourselves, in relation to the maximum transit visibility band, to catch the ISS passing next to the sunspots. And, surprisingly, I’ve managed to estimate the position quite good. But of course, none of that would have been possible without the CalSky prediction. It’s very nice to catch such a short duration event like the ISS transiting the Sun or Moon when you have all the details from this site.

And now, the images…

I’ll start with the sunspot groups first, and a global image of the groups:

Sunspot groups July 5, 2014 color copy

Sunspot groups July 5, 2014

Group 2108:


Groups 2104 and 2107:

Sunspota 2104 and 2107

And AR2109:

Evolution of AR2109

For this group I also have a two-image animation showing the evolution in a time period of four and a half hours:


The Sun is truly a dynamic object!

And now for the ISS transit…

The first image was acquired by my wife, using her filtered 90mm Maksutov and Canon 550D working at 1/3200s and ISO 100. She got the ISS in two frames, so two silhouettes of the ISS are visible in the image:

ISS transit ElizaT

The second image is mine, using the 115mm F/7 APO Refractor at F/17 and ASI120MM camera with Baader Green CCD and Astrosolar full-aperture filters. I’ve got the ISS passing close to groups 2107 (lower-left) and 2104 in three frames, but unfortunately the seeing in those seconds was not good enough to get a decent solar surface shot. And also the shape of the ISS is a bit off, due to the image acquisition-transfer mode of the camera. I think I won’t be using the ASI120MM for this type of events, where a very fast-moving object crosses the field of view.

So, the image:

ISS transiting the Sun

And I’ve also assembled a short animation from the RAW frames, showing the transit in almost real-time (acquisition was made at 21fps, animation is at 20fps), and at 2fps, so in slow motion to better understand what was the black object moving in front of the Sun. Observe also the seeing conditions changing when the ISS passes…


Well, after all, I think this “Sun-day” Saturday was a very good day for solar imaging, despite the strange positions I had to get in, to be able to focus and re-focus on the low-light and low-contrast screen of my laptop. One of those positions is visible in the image below (yes, my face is not visible due to the black shirt I was using as a Sun-shield), captured close to the transit moment by my wife’s brother, Mihai. Also notice the Moon in the upper left part of the photograph.


My image with the ISS transiting the Sun was featured on the first page of SpaceWeather, where my wife’s image was also mentioned. It was truly a family weekend :).


(July 7, 2014)