Archive for March, 2015

Partial Solar Eclipse of March 20, 2015 – Part II

Posted in ASTRO on March 30, 2015 by maxpho

I was mentioning in a previous post that I shall present soon some new images from the March 20th Partial Solar Eclipse.

Well, it’s not really soon, but better later than never…

The first new image was shot not in the usual way, meaning that due to the rather thick cloud layer, the Sun’s luminosity was greatly diminished, and it was necessary to remove the frontal solar filter of the refractor used (a 115mm F/7 APO). This should never be done without some serious thinking ahead (and risk management), since any luminosity variation (due to cloud movement across the Sun’s disk) could damage either the camera or the eye!!! But, since it was the camera that was actually seeing the Sun, I’ve gambled and won…the camera remained intact, and some shots were taken. The following is just one of them (acquired at 09:24 U.T.), where both the Sun and some clouds are visible in the same frame:

9 24 utThe above image is just a single shot, but the following one is a stack of 44 frames acquired in just one minute (at 09:29 U.T.), when the clouds did not interfered with the eclipse. A distinct sunspot group can be seen, and also some mountains/craters on the lunar limb!

09 29 UTTo better discern the lunar mountains/craters, a rotated view is presented below. Look especially at the left part of the lunar limb, where the lunar South Pole’s mountains/craters are more dramatic.

LUNAR LIMBAnd now for a brief sequence of the event, up to the maximum phase visible from the location where I was observing:

toateAgain, some of the frames were acquired through clouds, so the solar filter was removed; this is obvious for the center five frames in the above sequence.

To perhaps better understand the actual event, a more artistic view is shown below, with the Moon rotated to see which general lunar regions were near the limb during the eclipse:

COMPOSITIONAnd now for a small video made by my wife during different moments of the eclipse, using a 127mm Maksutov telescope and Canon 550D in Full HD filming mode:

My wife also shot this view at the end of our imaging session (ended by the very thick cloud layer), showing one of the instruments and the sky conditions:

pano eclipsaEven if this was not a total solar eclipse, the event, despite the clouds, was surely a memorable one.

Aristoteles and Eudoxus in Sky and Telescope

Posted in ASTRO on March 29, 2015 by maxpho

A few days ago a friend of mine, Adrian Sonka, announced me that he read the May 2015 issue of Sky and Telescope and that one of my images was on page 7:

proofThe image presents the lunar craters Aristoteles and Eudoxus, and was acquired on one memorable October morning with very good seeing conditions.

The full-resolution image:


This was good news for me, since it’s my first image presented in a well-known Astronomy magazine. Hope to have more in the coming years…

Moon and Sirius B – March 24, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on March 26, 2015 by maxpho

Despite some rather poor seeing conditions (3/10), with the Moon at only 30 degrees above horizon, I did get out for a brief imaging session together with Claudiu.

The designated scope for this session was again the 355mm Newtonian, at F/11 coupled with the DMK21 camera and a Baader Red filter.

The following images show some well-known lunar formations but under a less often observed illumination.

Hercules Messier North Pole rimae

Also, I’ve managed to capture again the elusive component B of Sirius, a second time. The first time I had far better seeing conditions, but still, in the following images Sirius B is well resolved.

Sirius B

Jupiter – March 21, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on March 23, 2015 by maxpho

Another session with Jupiter. This time I had the pleasure to observe the giant planet of our Solar System together with my brother-in-law. We both enjoyed views at 450x with stable moments when the Earth’s atmosphere allowed us to catch a few glimpses of the Jovian clouds.

I’m still very much annoyed with the rather low sensitivity of the DMK camera, for which, at the amplification employed, the gain has to be set to a very high value. This means that the noise is also quite high.

Jupiter March 21, 2015The rare moments of good seeing did not allow for a de-rotation procedure in WinJupos, so the above and below images are LRGB sequences only. Still, some interesting details are visible, besides Io and it’s shadow (and some details on the satellite itself). There is an interesting reddish spot near the South Pole (up in the images), marked with lines. Also, a rather large spot (named White Spot Z -WSZ) is visible and marked as well in the images below.

Two series of LRGB were selected.

Jupiter March 21, 2015 2006ut

Jupiter March 21, 2015 2134utFrom these two series, a small map in cylindrical projection was done, using the WinJupos software:


Still waiting for those superb seeing conditions…


Partial Solar Eclipse of March 20, 2015 – Part I

Posted in Uncategorized on March 20, 2015 by maxpho

This is a first photograph of the Partial Solar Eclipse that just took place.

A more extensive post will follow in the days ahead, but for now I didn’t want to let the event pass into history too fast.

941utThe above image is a single frame acquired at 09:29 U.T, before the maximum phase. The equipment used was the 4.5″ F/7.5 APO Refractor coupled with a Canon 550D, all onto the EQ6 mount.

Also, I’ve acquired a few very short videos, one of which is presented below.

Jupiter – March 13, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on March 14, 2015 by maxpho

At last!

After four tryouts with the newly modified 355mm Newtonian, all failures due to clouds or bad seeing, I’ve finally got a brief chance to test the optics and mechanics of my main planetary scope.

Together with my friend Claudiu we had some very good moments at the eyepiece (at 450x) looking at the largest planet of our Solar System. Despite those moments being rather short, the views from this night will remain imprinted in our memories…at least until the next good seeing imaging session.

Jupiter March13, 2015At first I thought that the resulting image will be my very best in terms of resolution in the planet’s atmosphere, but due to large instabilities each few minutes, the resulting RGB images are not that close to the capabilities of this telescope.

Also, using the not-so-sensitive DMK camera with a high amplification factor due to the lack of an adequate Barlow lens, meant that each color channel image sequence had only around 850 frames and a lot of noise. I truly miss my ASI120MM camera. Hope to send it back for repairs soon…

JUPITER and GRSAnd a small animation showing just how fast the seeing was degrading in only 30 minutes…


Next time I will have the scope finished and hopefully better seeing conditions.


Four planets in the evening – March 9, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on March 12, 2015 by maxpho

These days, whoever looks after sunset towards the western horizon, can see the bright planet Venus. A bit lower and to the right, another planet is easily visible when the sky goes darker: Mars. Near Mars, and identifiable by using a sky chart, is planet Uranus. On the other part of the sky, Jupiter is already quite high above the horizon. This was the view Claudiu and myself had on the evening of March 9, when we went south of my home to observe Jupiter with an 8″ telescope. But before the scope got close to thermal equilibrium, I’ve decided that the beautiful Venus-Uranus-Mars gathering should be photographed. The following images were acquired with a 100mm Canon macro lens and Canon 550D camera at ISO 400 and 200, mounted onto an EQ6 mount. Exposures were of 15 to 20 seconds each. Conj 3 Conj 2 Conj 1 And a 22-frame stack, showing the planets and near-by stars a little better, but also the clouds rolling in: Venus Mars UranusTo identify some of the objects in the images, I’ve placed the names onto a grayscale version of the above: ChartAnd eventually the clouds rolled in…and our view of Jupiter was very brief, stable, but with very poor transparency. The only results decent enough, were these: Jupiter Still waiting to test my 14″ Newtonian under good conditions…but those conditions seem unreachable lately. Max