All 110 Messier objects imaged, finally

Messier objects are not only some of the most accessible deep sky objects, but also the most beautiful. I guess I should not say all 110 Messier objects finally as some people never complete this, and others take years. I have completed it in less than a year. While this is quite the accomplishment I should point out quite a bit of my images of these targets really stink because I rushed the process. This may seem like a stupid thing to do, or it was done just so I could say I got all 110 in less than a year, it… Continue reading

Basic spectral classes finished, plus a couple extra!

Stars are classified into spectral classes, of which there are seven basic classes and several more esoteric ones. The seven basics are O, B, A, F, G, K and M and they are shown here along with a few others:   The other classes show are C for Carbon stars (very old stars that are burning out), S (late type giants) and W which are the most interesting of them all, Wolf-Rayet which are massive stars with howling solar winds. If I do absolutely nothing else with spectroscopy it has been a huge success in teaching me more about stars… Continue reading

2012 Venus transit from Smithville Texas

I hope you got to see the 2012 Venus transit because most likely no one you know will still be alive when the next one happens. My wife and I went over to just outside Smithville with a couple other members of the Huntsville Amateur Astronomy Society and set up to image the event. I set up my main scope, a camera with a 300mm lens and of course a pair of binoculars to watch with. It started out pretty cloudy and never really improved, we did however get lucky enough to have many breaks in the cloud cover to… Continue reading

Annular solar eclipse from Albuquerque, NM

My wife and I decided to travel to Albuquerque New Mexico for the annular solar eclipse on May 20th, 2012. An annular solar eclipse is where the moon comes directly between the sun and our little earth but isn’t close enough to the Earth to completely block out the sun. We choose that Albuquerque because it was far enough west to see the complete annular part of the eclipse and was directly on the center line where the moon would be exactly in the center. Here are some compilations of the images I took while there: I had two cameras… Continue reading

New spectroscopy software Rspec, and Arcturus revisited

My first foray into spectroscopy was barely a month ago and already I am shifting gears. It turns out it is pretty straight forward to image the spectra of stars, but processing it and making something of the image is another story entirely. Like a lot of people I would imagine, I started using a program called Vspec, mainly because it was free and also because there are a lot of people using it. The problem I ran into rather quickly was that if you are starting from scratch and understand nothing about the spectrum, the software or the entire… Continue reading

Dark nebula Clark 549, something different

Most of the astrophotography you see has a common theme, beautifully colored and highly detailed images of some nebula or galaxy somewhere, unlike Clark 549. People don’t shoot the stuff without tons of detail and/or colors. Shame really. Here is an image of a dark nebula, or a nebula that is dark (duh!). The only way you see it is because you can see where it blocks the stars behind it.   This example of dark nebula is Barnard 143, or Clark 549, or as I refer to it, the Lyre Nebula (I hope you can see why). I have… Continue reading

Stellar spectroscopy, the light of the stars

Stellar spectroscopy is a really interesting field, and since I have never been content on doing one thing and always being fascinated by things I don’t understand I decided to look into it. Stellar spectroscopy is the study of the spectrum of light being emitted or reflected by an object in space. This can tell you a lot of things, for example what the chemical makeup of a star is (which tells you the star type), or the speed at which an object is moving towards or away from you. My primary reason for wanting to look into this is to… Continue reading