Archive for December, 2015

Best of Maximus Astro-Photography – 2015

Posted in ASTRO, Evenimente, Tranzite ISS on December 31, 2015 by maxpho

This is the last day of 2015 and, as some others recap the successes or failures and plan strategies for the upcoming year, I’ll recap some of the best astro-shots of this year; they are either the best in terms of technique, artistic significance or importance of the subject.



The main subject that I (and many others) followed during this month, and afterwards, was comet Q2 Lovejoy.


Link to the original post here.

This comet passed near the Pleiades also:


Link to the original post here.


In February comet Q2 Lovejoy was still pretty much the most photogenic object, with its long ion tail interacting with the solar wind:


Link to the original post here.


March had one more interesting comet visible along side Q2 Lovejoy. It was a very brief yet extremely interesting evolution of a SOHO comet named C/2015 D1. This little fellow disintegrated after passing too close to our star. To image this comet in the very bright dusk skies was a challenge. The same night I’ve observed this comet, Lovejoy and the Moon were present:


Link to the original post here.

In March I’ve also acquired my first acceptable Jupiter shot with the then-new homemade 14 inch scope:


Link to the original post here.

Also in March we had a partial solar eclipse, which was almost lost to clouds, but I did manage to take a few shots.


Link to the original post here.


After a long break in Astrophotography due to a different interest and some expeditions to find rare insects and reptiles, I’ve rebooted myself and restarted imaging the sky.

We had some very nice and quite large sunspot groups this year, and in August the planet Venus was also close to our Sun (apparently) which made possible to image both the star and planet during daytime.

Following is a composition showing the two:


Link to the original post here.

Many interesting sunspots made me get out more often in the beautiful Summer days:


Link to the original post here.


September was the month in which I made my dreams come true in terms of Astrophotography. With the finished 14 inch scope, and the new ASI 120MM-S camera (the old 120mm stopped working in December 2014) I’ve finally got my first great resolution shots of the Moon, practically at the limit of a 14 inch scope. This is what I’ve wanted from the very first days (10 years ago maybe) I’ve seen some fantastically sharp and detailed shots on the LPOD site, made by amateurs with amateur equipment.

But before those HR shots, a “SuperMoon eclipse” shot:


Original post here.

And now, for my best High Resolution shot of September: crater Posidonius.


This is only one of the craters imaged on that session. More can be seen here.

Other HR shots from a different September session show also very fine details at the lunar surface, some of 350 meters!



Original post here.

Another incredible session from September, with images showing details inside the Ina caldera and small rilles inside large craters:



Link to the original post here.


October was good to experiment a bit with the processing techniques and some interesting result came out of this.

My very first HR-HDR (High Resolution – High Dynamic Range) lunar shots:


Original post here.

And another HR/HDR view:


Original post here.

October continued with some great/excellent seeing conditions, so HR images of lunar areas continued:




Original post here.

In October we also had a nice “hiding” of Aldebaran by our Moon:


Original post here.


November continued with good seeing, and the Moon was again the main target. But some other objects were observed, like the famous Sirius b and a very tiny Mars at only 4.4 arc seconds.



Original post here.

HR lunar shots were again possible…


Original post here.

…as were some other experimental processing techniques:


Link to original post here.


December was a pretty full month for me, due mostly to the good seeing conditions (which were actually abnormal for this month at my location) and a few nice events.

An ISS transit over the Moon:


Original link here.

I’ve also been lucky enough to capture a plane into my small field of view while imaging a large sunspot:


Original post here.

And the last HR lunar session of the year, with very good seeing conditions:


Original post here.

One final “astro” shot, showing the Moon rising:



Some “astro-hopes” for 2016:

-Hope to increase the success in lunar/solar/planetary imaging in 2016, since a new camera just arrived (the ZWO ASI 174MM),

-Hope to be more active also in the Summer nights, despite other interests,

-Have a very large Lunar mosaic showing an entire lunar phase in HR.

-And hope to get under darker skies and marvel at the Milky Way and other deep sky objects together with my wife and anyone truly interested in conversations regarding our place in the Universe 🙂 !

Have a Great 2016 !


December 31, 2015


High Resolution lunar images – December 28, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on December 29, 2015 by maxpho

I’ve finished processing all of the 100 Gb of data acquired on the night of December 28th. The equipment used for the following images: 355mm F/5 Newtonian working at F/30, Baader 2.25x Barlow with extension, ASI 120MM-S camera with a Baader Red filter. The seeing varied quite a bit, from 6-7/10 to 8/10 with some superb moments. The fog was also present, but usually this means, at least for my location, that good seeing is present.

First image, and perhaps the best result of the session, shows crater Cleomedes and its many rilles on the floor.


Secondly, and presented also in the previous post, the double crater Messier, with very good resolution all around the field:


Now, an interesting region, with craters Atlas, Hercules and Endymion, and also a very nice little double-crater (concentric craters). Can you spot it?


Proclus, a rather “fresh” crater, near the “mouth” of Mare Crisium. Note the rille system on the floor of Mare Crisium.


Petavius, the “citadel”. A superb crater with large central mountains and a complex rim. Note the many rilles on its floor. The processing employed for this image was a bit aggressive in order to reveal the smallest details.


And a “wider view” showing Langrenus, Vendelius and Petavius:


Messier craters – December 28, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on December 28, 2015 by maxpho

Last night I had the great pleasure to acquire lunar images under very good seeing conditions. It will be some time before I can process all of the data (only 100 Gb) but I must post one of the results now.

The subject of the following images is the double crater Messier, one of the best known small impact craters on the Moon, at least by amateurs.

The image was acquired using the 355mm F/5 homemade Newtonian (SkyWatcher optics) at approx. F/30, a Baader 2.25x Barlow lens, and the ASI 120MM-S camera with a red filter. The result is a stack of 1000 frames out of the 8000 acquired under 7-9/10 seeing conditions (variable due to fog).

The original-sized version:


And a larger version (130% of the original) with a slightly different processing:


Note the many rilles in the upper part of the image, and some domes at the bottom. Also, some interesting details might be glimpsed inside the two Messier craters.

Sunset and Moonrise – December 26th, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on December 27, 2015 by maxpho

A two-hour long trip to the Comana Woods, south of Bucharest, with the precise goal of shooting both the Sunset and the Moonrise. I’ve succeeded doing both and with a bonus.

First, a general view near the Neajlov Delta, in Comana, a few minutes before the Sunset:


Now, some shots of the Sun going down, with birds flying over its disk, and a hint of a green flash. The images were acquired using a small 65mm F/6.5 APO refractor and a Canon 550D camera, with no filters.





And now, about the bonus I was writing earlier: after a few minutes of searching, my wife glimpsed the planet Mercury over some tree tops:


After another hour, the much anticipated Moonrise occured. Same equipment as for the Sunset images, but this time the refractor had to be placed onto the EQ6 equatorial mount.

First, a series of images depicting the Moon rising over a small hill, and changing its shape as it climbed:


One of the earlier shots, showing the strange shape that out satellite can take due to the atmospheric layers:


Another shot, with some cirrus clouds interfering:


And a High Dynamic Range shot made from three separate images:

Moon Rise HDR.jpg

In the end, a small comparison of the apparent vertical dimension of the Moon as it was getting higher in the sky:

size comparison.jpg

A Full Moon for Christmas – December 25th, 2015

Posted in ASTRO, Evenimente on December 25, 2015 by maxpho

A Full Moon mosaic acquired on the night of December 24 to 25, 2015. After a short High Resolution session of some lunar craters together with my brother in law and the 14 inch scope, I’ve decided, due to degrading seeing conditions, to make a small lunar mosaic. The result shown below is a 30 panel mosaic, each a 700 frames stack with the ASI 120MM-S camera and Red filter at the focal plane of the 355mm F/5 Newtonian. The image is resized to 50% due to degrading seeing conditions altering the different panels.



Perfect Christmas!

Posted in ASTRO, Evenimente on December 24, 2015 by maxpho

This is perhaps how an amateur astronomer sees the perfect Christmas! I know I do…

Perfect Christmas.jpg

The lunar images showing the large crater Clavius was acquired just a few days ago in very good seeing conditions (one more gift for me), while the comet image (showing comet ISON) was acquired in 2013.


Perfect Christmas for all!


Moon occulting Aldebaran – December 23, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on December 24, 2015 by maxpho

A new occultation of Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) by our Moon took place on the night of December 23. The previous such event took place on October 29.

For this event I’ve used the data posted by Adrian Sonka on his page. Thanks for that Adi!

This time, my observing equipment was a small SkyWatcher 127mm F/12 Maksutov telescope coupled with the Canon 550D, and the ASI120MM-S camera with a Red filter.

First shot of the event, acquired 12 minutes before the ingress of the star, using the Canon and three frames with different exposure times (1/2s, 1/60s and 1/125s) in order to create a High Dynamic Range image. The colors were saturated a bit, and they show both the reddish color of Aldebaran and the colors of minerals on the surface of the Moon:

AldebaranMoonDec23, 2015.jpg

The second two shots present the ingress and egress of Aldebaran, both being acquired using the ASI camera working at 70 and 60 fps respectively. Both images are stacks of 100 frames.





And a “warp” star effect, showing the angle of “attach” of the star. This is a 9000 frames stack:


Now, two animations at 10 fps showing the two contact moments.


anim ingress 10fps.gif


anim egress.gif

I’ve also posted a short film of the event on YouTube here:


Now the processing of the shots in order to estimate the true size of Aldebaran will have to be performed…But not just yet: tomorrow Santa will come, so I have to prepare for him 🙂

Maybe he’ll bring me another ASI camera, maybe…the ASI174MM model 😉


Marry Christmas!