Archive for July, 2009

Against all expectations it was sufficiently clear last night (a few banks of cloud passed over) to get some imaging done and see whether the “object” was real – or an artefact.  Result – a very comet-like lens flare 🙁  Now I reckon this is a Canon custom made lens flare – it is so comet-like – good one Canon – certainly had me going there!!!

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I was doing some ultra wide field imaging last night in the region of Deneb and picked up a bright diffuse object mid way between the Pelican’s head and Deneb.  Has anybody seen any reference to this mentioned anywhere??  I have a number of very good images of the region (not mine!) and there’s nothing to be seen where this thing is.  Doesn’t look like it is going to be clear tonight to have another go and check it out 🙁

Always a possibility it’s a lens flare – but it doesn’t look like any flares I’ve seen before – having said that – this is the first time I’ve used this particular rig, so it could be a flare.  That’s why I need some clear skies to get out and try out some more imaging.

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And here is a short clip from last night’s ITV Meridian News programme:

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Here is a clip from the ITV Meridian feature from May 2009:

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The footage taken at the New Forest Observatory actually went out on tonight’s Meridian News.  Apologies for the duff information given below.  My piece was preceeded by Sir Patrick – I didn’t know my book (Star Vistas) Foreword author was going to be on beforehand, and no doubt he didn’t know I was going to be on afterwards either 🙂

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Well the nights are getting longer again, so hopefully this will be the last non-deep-sky image for a while 🙂  I took the “Ultra” units up to a photographic studio in Oxford today and we had some fun popping water-filled balloons.  Check out this result:

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As part of the 40th Anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon, Meridian News will be presenting a number of short features during next week.  It is expected that some filming carried out at the New Forest Observatory will be shown at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday 15th July.  You’ll see a piggy-backed Canon 40D with a 100-400mm zoom and 2X teleconverter taking pictures of the Full Moon.  We were very lucky during filming on Tuesday 7th June that the clouds parted for around 15-minutes allowing some shots of the full Moon.  I did think we were going to do a repeat of that Patrick Moore Sky at Night episode where he was at some guy’s house with a huge reflector, and the poor chap was swinging the scope all around the sky trying to capture something between the gaps in the clouds.  He was unfortunately totally unsuccessful.

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And to finish off yesterday’s theme I just had to try to capture the action when a 0.22″ air rifle pellet says hello to a raw egg – or two.

Note the pellet exiting stage left in the first image!

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From one extreme to the other 🙂  Some of my longest total exposure times in astrophotography exceed 60 hours!!  At the other end of the scale I also carry out high-speed photography using flash equipment that kicks out 9 microsecond long pulses of light – that’s a factor of 2.4 to ten to the power ten!!  Below is an image taken today of a light bulb shot by an air rifle pellet (the flashes are sound triggered to take this shot) and this is what happens during the 9 microsecond exposure period just 5 milliseconds after firing the rifle.

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This Month’s imaging object is a rather beautiful globular cluster in the constellation Sagitta – M71.  The nice bright star towards the top left in the image below is Gamma Sagitta, and M71 lies mid way between Gamma and Delta Sagitta.  M71 looks rather loose for a globular cluster and there was controversy over whether this object was in fact an open cluster – it seems without doubt that this is a globular cluster lying around 13,000 light years away in the constellation Sagitta.  I see from my notes that I did not start imaging this one until around 11:30 p.m. so we still have the problem of the late nights and early mornings of Summer 🙁  However, being a cluster we can keep the subs down to a reasonable 2 or 3 minutes each using either the f#2 Hyperstar or the f#4.5 Sky 90 which means that we don’t need to continue imaging until the Sun comes up, but we can get away with just a couple of hours or so of good data.

It is still a very difficult month for imaging with the very late starts, but after no imaging at all during the whole of June it’s now worth getting out to try and grab hold of ANYTHING.  I am now longing for the shorter evenings which start to make their appearance beyond mid-August.

Wishing you good weather and clear skies for this July 🙂

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