Archive for April, 2018

The South of the Moon – April 28, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 29, 2018 by maxpho

A very brief lunar imaging session with the 355mm Newton under poor seeing. The poor seeing was mostly due to the low altitude of the Moon above the horizon, otherwise higher up, it was quite good. The value that I’ve settled upon was 5/10. This required the use of the IR pass filter (>685nm). Not happy with this result, but the image does show some superb formations towards the South Pole of the Moon, including the very large crater Bailly.

The South.jpg

Another shot from this session, under poor conditions. Nevertheless, Aristarchus is always a nice view:


And another view of the same area, this time in slightly better seeing.



ISS solar transit – April 25, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 25, 2018 by maxpho

And yet another solar transit by the ISS. This time I was not sure that I could get to the location predicted via CalSky, so I did not have great expectations…

But, luckily, after going a bit over the speed limit ;), I found myself in a nice field of…green stuff. Nevertheless, this type of astrophotography is never easy, so a few clouds had to cover the Sun just 5 minutes before the event…

Again, luckily, the clouds dispersed 1 minute (!!) before the transit, so that I could focus and wait for the black silhouette of the ISS to pass. Seeing was terrible, but the pass was favorable with many details of the ISS structure well resolved.

I might have been speeding on the roads, but it is nothing compared to the speed of the ISS in orbit…the transit lasted about 0.5 seconds…

The setup: homemade 150mm F/5 refractor (iStar lens), Herschel wedge, 2.7x APM coma correcting barlow, Baader green filter, ASI 174MM.


The cloud that formed 5 minutes before the event:


A short animation (resized) showing the event at a very low frame rate:

ISS APRIL 25.gif

A single frame (the best out of about 36), showing the ISS near sunspot 2706:


And the sequence:

ISStransit April 25a.jpg



High Resolution Lunar images – April 23, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 24, 2018 by maxpho

A lunar session under almost perfect seeing conditions. Well, not all the time, but for about 30 minutes the seeing was very close to perfect. It is definitely one of the most memorable imaging session in recent years for me.

Equipment: 355mm F/4.5 homemade Newton, 2.7x coma corrected barlow, and 2.5x Baader barlow (for green light only). ASI 174MM with either a Red filter or a Green one! Yes, I could finally use a Green filter for lunar imaging, which is extremely rare.

First, the higher magnification Green filtered images.

Atlas and Hercules:








The prominent trio of craters Arzachel, Alphonsus and Ptlemaeus in good seeing (7/10) at the beginning of the session.  Another better version, in 8-9/10 seeing, is being processed.


Crater Moretus and the southern mountains.


And a wider view of the Moretus area, this time in Red light and very good to excellent seeing conditions:

Moretus Wide April 232018.jpg

Craters Petavius and Humboldt in high Sun illumination. One of the shots I was aiming for some years now…


A sharper view of the Arzachel, Alphonsus and Ptolemaeus area, in 8-9/10 seeing conditions, this time including the nicely iluminated Rupes Recta into view. Note the small rille perpendicular to Rupes Recta.


And a reprocessed view of Rupes Recta area only, showing the stuff that lurks in the shadows:

in the shadows.jpg

in the shadows notes.jpg

Another well known trio of craters, Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina. Bu this time, under high illumination, it is the smaller craters that look more interesting.


And some of the more interesting smaller craters, some with very interesting floors:

small craters.jpg

A wider view of craters Atlas and Hercules, this time including crater Burg at the center of Lacus Mortis.


An “in orbit”-like view showing Mare Humboldtianum on the lunar limb.


A view of perhaps the most intense rimae region on the Moon: Hyginus, Triesneker and Ariadaeus. Also, look at far left, deep in the shadows; there is a very long sinuous rimae hidden there.


If I were to be asked which is my best astro image of them all, in terms of resolution and aesthetic value, my answer will most definitely be pointing to the following image. A five image mosaic, acquired under close to perfect seeing conditions, and showing some of the most interesting and dramatic features of the northern half of our Moon. I would recommend to view it slowly, otherwise some of the finer details might be missed.

Long strip April 232018.jpg

And a selected list of formations from the above image. Note the details on the floor of Archimedes and the domes near Mt. Huygens.

Plus, this large image has the smallest details ever captured by myself on the surface of the Moon: some small rilles are only about 270 meters wide!

Details of the strip.jpg

The last image of this session, crater Maginus under “more normal” seeing conditions (7/10) and Green filter.

maginus april 2018.jpg

The Needle Galaxy – April 21, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 23, 2018 by maxpho

This is the result from a wonderful session deep inside the woods around Targoviste, Romania. A few roars from different animals, a few insects around the laptop, and the flight of a few bats were all contributing to the atmosphere…Nature at its best.

The following shot (please zoom in) shows the interesting edge-on galaxy that it is best known as “the Needle galaxy”, located in Coma Berenices. More interesting is the immense number of far-away galaxies present in the field: most of the small diffuse points of light in the image are actually galaxies not stars.

This was also the first true test of my homemade cooling for the ASI 1600MM camera. From the normal 14-15 degrees Celsius (wit 12 degrees ambient air temperature) the sensor temperature was lowered at about 6 degrees; it allowed for so much less noise to be present in the subs. I may get eventually a more efficient cooling system, but for now it is good enough.

Needle galaxy.jpg

The Moon – April 22, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 22, 2018 by maxpho

A very short session with the Moon. Despite the poor seeing, the experience of imaging from deep in the forest is something to remember. This image was acquired with the 115 mm refractor and ASI 174MM camera with a green filter in 4/10 seeing conditions.


H-alpha Sun – April 21, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 21, 2018 by maxpho

A lovely solar session today, in the woods around Targoviste. Good seeing but some technical difficulties…

Nevertheless, a nice active region (AR 2706) is giving us a very nice display both in white light and H-alpha light.

Equipment: TS 115mm APO F/7, Quark Chromosphere, ASI 174MM for H-alpha images. A. Herschel wedge was used for the white light shot. Seeing 6/10.

sunspots wl.jpg


h alpha a.jpg

inverted h alpha.jpg


Moon – April 20, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on April 20, 2018 by maxpho

One Moon shot. Note the bright peaks far away from the terminator line, towards the South Pole.