Pretty good polar alignment

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here's my PHD graph from this morning's alignment. The Meade LX200 is on a permanent pier in a backyard observatory, but it's alignment was off a bit over the long cold winter ... probably expansion/contraction of the pier, wedge, etc. So this morning, I got up at 2 a.m. and worked on alignment for a bit. Here, I did drift alignment on both axis and got the trendlines to flatline where they go. With any luck, I won't have to align again for another year. :)

M3 with the Orion Starshoot G3

Submitted by jimwcoleman

I was dismayed to see how out-of-focus this image turned out to be, especially after I spent 90 minutes drift aligning the scope at oh-dark-thirty this morning. I used a Bahtinov mask on Arcturus to dial in the focus, but there must have been some mirror shift while slewing to M3.

Anyway, here's what I got this morning using the Orion G3 Starshoot. It's been a long, wet Seattle-area winter, so I was just happy to FINALLY get back out under the stars. Even if I only got a poor-to-mediocre photo.

Focusing tips and tricks at high magnification are always welcome!

Orion G3 Starshoot is not a planetary cam

Submitted by jimwcoleman

This really puzzled me for some time. Every time I tried to shoot Jupiter with the Orion G3 Starshoot, I would get a vertical white line out of the top and bottom of the planet in the image. I soon realized that the image was way overexposed and started playing with the offset and gain. But then, after much trial and error, I realized that the Starshoot G3 is a deep-space cam, not a planetary cam. Just like the box says, heh heh.

In this image, you are actually looking at Betelgeuse ... overexposed to show you the same effect I was getting with Jupiter.

Astrophotography class

Submitted by jimwcoleman

I will be giving a one-hour astrophotography class/demo at work today... it will be similar to the one I did at South Kitsap High School and other presentations I have done... a full setup, but indoors. I love introducing this fascinating hobby to others and always hope that it will "stick" with someone who will then go forth and do great things in the field!

Star trails over Port Orchard

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here is a time lapse showing the motion of stars over my Port Orchard back yard. There also are three aircraft and at least two shooting stars visible in this photo to the discerning eye. Smoke from my fireplace interfered a bit, giving some of the stars a "dotted" look as the smoke drifted overhead as the winds changed. This image represents 299 30-second exposures at six-second intervals using a Canon 60D, a 10mm Sigma lens at IS0 800 - for the technically inclined. :)

Happy Thanksgiving from Port Orchard, Washington

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Happy Thanksgiving! The skies in the Seattle area are clear but hazy, due to a pressure inversion. The moon is a day past full and very bright in the sky. Despite that, I photographed the Andromeda Galaxy over Port Orchard, Washington. The Canon 60D was piggybacked atop an 8" Orion Astrograph Newtonian on a Celestron Advanced VX mount. Total exposure time was 45 minutes (15x180 sec subs with 5x180 darks at ISO 1600, 200 mm Canon lens). I would have been able to bring out far more detail on a darker night, but this was the best I could do with what was given to me tonight. :)