Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome to Noblesville, Indiana!

We've been in our new house in Noblesville since Friday, and I've already seen a yellow supermoon wreathed in indigo clouds, and a handful of amazing sunsets. Our backyard faces a grass runway airport with the occasional prop plane buzzing overhead, and barely a tree in sight (which is good and bad).

I intentionally chose a south-facing backyard - It's not every day you have a say in which direction your porch faces. We lucked out with a 1-story house directly behind us and immediately to our west, which means I'm at least not completely boxed in.

Now I'm torn between wanting massive mature trees for shade and curb appeal, and wanting no trees at all for an unobstructed view of the night sky. Quite the dilemma!

I have much more to "scope" out in the near future, but for now here is a sunrise from yesterday morning. I woke up at 6:30am and noticed the blinds were orange, so I peaked through another northeast window and saw this... no filter no manipulation, taken with iPhone!

iphone noblesville sunrise
iPhone sunrise at 6:30am on 7/14/2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 2014 Indiana Astronomical Society Novice/Urban Observing List

indiana astronomical society observing list
Phil Dimpelfeld from the Indiana Astronomical Society creates a Novice/Urban Observing List each month for newbies like myself with not-so-dark skies and not-so-powerful equipment. Phil splits the list into different levels based on difficulty. Level 1 objects are relatively easy to find, and Level 2 and 3 are fainter and therefore more challenging to spot. To complete the monthly challenge, you must observe at least 6 objects regardless of the difficulty level.

Last month, I observed Saturn through my telescope but didn't photograph it. I also got a shot of the moon with my iPhone hand-held through my 6mm eyepiece. I failed on the rest of the list because we're gearing up for the move AND had a string of rainy unpredictable weather here in Indiana.

The June list should be my first list in a new house with a backyard patio and no reception hall marquee glaring on the horizon. I'm excited for some bright Messier objects to test out my tracking mount for the first time. I'm a little sad and glad at the same time that I've already observed all of the Messier objects on this list previously.

LEVEL 1

Beta Scorpii, “Graffias”, Double Star in Scorpius, 16h 05.4m, -19° 48', mag = 2.6, 4.9, sep = 13.6"

16/17 Draconis, Triple Star in Draco, 16h 36.2m, +52° 55', mag = 5.4, 6.4, 5.5, sep = 3.4, 90 (Easy double star in binoculars/finderscope)

M13, Globular Cluster in Hercules, 16h 41.7m, +36° 28', mag = 5.7, size = 17.0' (One of the BEST Globular Clusters! Look for it in the Keystone.)

Alpha Herculis, “Rasalgethi”, Double Star in Hercules, 17h 14.6m, +14° 23', mag = 3.5, 5.4, sep = 4.7"

IC 4665, Open Cluster in Ophiuchus, 17h 46.3m, +05° 43', mag = 4.2, size = 70.0' (A nice target for binoculars!)

LEVEL 2

M4, Globular Cluster in Scorpius, 16h 23.6m, -26° 32’, mag = 5.8, size = 26’ (Despite its bright magnitude, this globular can be difficult to spot with moderate light pollution due to its low surface brightness.)

M92, Globular Cluster in Hercules, 17h 17.1m, +43° 05', mag = 6.4, size = 11.0'

M6, Open Cluster in Scorpius, 17h 40.1m, -32° 13’, mag = 4.2, size = 33’

M7, Open Cluster in Scorpius, 17h 53.9m, -34 49’, mag = 3.3, size = 80’

LEVEL 3

NGC 6210, Planetary Nebula in Hercules, 16h 44.5m, +23° 49', mag = 8.8, size = 48"

M12, Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus, 16h 47.2m, -01° 57’, mag = 6.8, size = 15’

M10, Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus, 16h 57.1m, -04° 06’, mag = 6.6, size = 15’

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Amazing Rainbow over Brownsburg, Indiana on July 1, 2014

When I saw the blinds in the family room turn pale golden yellow, I went out onto the balcony to look at the sunset. I saw what looked like rain falling in sheets between me and the sun, and I saw a man walking his dog looking up over the roofline above my head.

purple sunset
Purple and green sunset with sheets of rain falling between me and the sun

purple sunset

purple sunset

I decided to take my dog out as an excuse to run outside and look the other direction over the roof. I saw an amazing rainbow, with hints of a double rainbow on the far right side. It was the best rainbow I can remember in at least the past few years.

rainbow

My camera is already packed up in anticipation of the move to Noblesville some time in the next couple weeks. Our closing date was supposed to be yesterday but it was delayed, so we are waiting and ready. I knew I didn't have time to unpack my camera, so I snapped a few more iPhone photos. By the time I took a panoramic photo the rainbow had already thinned in the fading light.

rainbow

rainbow

rainbow
I was a little too late getting the panoramic shot, but you can tell the rainbow was a full arc from horizon to horizon

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Globular Cluster M5 at 300mm with DSLR on Fixed Tripod

m5 with 300mm dslr
Stack of 141 subs, 89 darks, 77 bias, each at ISO 3200, f/5.6, 300mm, 1.3 sec
Total exposure time 3 min 2 sec, cropped

m5 with 300mm dslr
Same image as above without the label
Went out on the balcony for some observing last night at around 1:30am. I star hopped along Virgo to find the M5 globular cluster. It is rather large and bright, but unfortunately I think my 1.3 sec exposure caused star trails because M5 is close to the celestial equator and so appears to be moving faster.

This cluster brings my Messier Object total up to 64 out of 110. 

I also observed Saturn through my Meade 285 refractor and 6mm eyepiece. I could clearly see the rings, but could not identify the Cassini Division.

Moon Low on Horizon June 14, 2014

moon over warehouse
Single frame, T5i, 120mm, 4 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, color balance

moon over warehouse
Single frame, T5i, 160mm, 3.2 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, color balance





yellow moon single frame t5i
Single frame, T5i, 300mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, crop

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