Preparations for the May 9 Mercury transit

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Tomorrow morning, May 9, Mercury will transit the face of the sun. Living near Seattle, the weather forecast is not promising, but I did just catch a break in the clouds and got my solar equipment dialed in. Sunspots are sparse right now. This is how the sun looked today at 10:20 p.m. UTC over Port Orchard, Washington. Tomorrow, I hope to photograph the Mercury transit. At least I'm prepared.
Orion 8" Astrograph Newtonian on Celestron AVX mount, Canon 60D, Baader MPCC coma corrector.

Shadows on Jupiter

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Last night on Jupiter, there was a double transit, meaning that two of Jupiter's moons cast shadows on the planet. Those are always fun to photograph and as this was my first double transit, I took great care to set up the equipment just right so that I could capture the event. In this photo collage, you can see the moons (Io and Callisto) as they move across the Jovian surface. :)

M104 - Sombrero Galaxy

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Someday I hope to get a real camera ... I feel I am wasting my time with this Orion G3 Starshoot, but it's the only DSO-capable camera I have right now, so I'm stuck with it. Anyway, this is a shot of the Sombrero Galaxy (Messier 104). This is 19 2-minute subs through an 8" Meade LX200R, guided by an Orion ST80 and PHD, stacked in Maxim DL. I seriously get bummed after freezing my butt off and fighting the crappy Orion software for hours only to get an image like this. But it's something.

M64 - The Black Eye Galaxy

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Viewing was horrible in the Seattle area tonight ... the moon was bright and the skies were very hazy - so much so that there was a ring around the moon most of the night. But I was out working on the equipment and managed to eek out a photo ... this is Messier 64, the Black Eye Galaxy, and a favorite target of mine.

Meade 8" LX200R, Orion G3 Color Starshoot at prime focus, guided by Orion ST-80 and PHD. 6x120sec subs, stacked with MaximDL.

04/09/2016 - The boring side of Jupiter

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here is an image of what is sometimes affectionately called "The Boring side of Jupiter."

As the planet rotates, many of its distinctive feature markings (such as the Great Red Spot) are sometimes turned away from Earth, so all we see is what you see here. Still beautiful, but lacking some of those iconic features we expect to see when viewing a picture of Jupiter.

NGC 2903 - a galaxy in Leo

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here is NGC 2903, a magnitude 9.7 galaxy roughly 20 million miles away in the Constellation Leo the Lion.

To get this photo, I coupled an Orion Starshoot G3 CCD cam to the prime focus of an 8" LX200, guided by a piggy-backed Orion ST-80 and PHD. Over time, I'm seeing some error in declination, so I limited my exposures to 60 seconds, exposed 50 and stacked only 12. As the image is not as sharp as I would like I would suspect collimation, but the scope was collimated only hours before this photo was taken. Therefore, I suspect tracking/guiding.

Jupiter in better seeing - 04/01/2016

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here is tonight's effort with Jupiter. This time, I used the same equipment as last night (8" Meade LX200R and a Celestron Skyris 132M) but this time, I added in a Meade 2x Telextender for higher magnification.

Seeing was a bit better than last night, but the image was still quite jumpy. This is 65 percent of 1800 frames, stacked by Registax 6. FireCapture was used to capture the .avi.

Stars from Messier 67 in Cancer

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Messier 67 (M67) is an open cluster in the Cancer constellation. M67 has more than 100 stars similar to the Sun, and countless red giants. The total star count has been estimated at well over 500.

Here is a high-magnification view of some of those stars in the cluster.

Meade 8" LX200R with Orion G3 Starshoot CCD at prime focus, guided with Orion ST-80, PHD, 17x21 seconds, MaximDL. From a Port Orchard, Washington back yard.

Jupiter in fair seeing

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Tonight was my first-ever use of my new Celestron 132M camera. As my filter wheel has not yet arrived, I was limited to black and white exposures.

Here is my first stack and I'm pretty happy with it for my first time. Most of the battle was learning to use FireCapture, as I'd never used it before. This was a 60 second exposure through an 8" Meade LX200, stacked 50% of best frames.