James Paulson's roll off roof observatory at the Sunridge Observatory site, taken in the summer of 1986, housing a 10 inch f/5 Cave Astrola Newtonian reflector telescope

Sunday, October 30, 2011

iPhone Astronomy

One of the most interesting products that I have seen lately is this nifty bracket designed for coupling your iPhone to the telescope to use the camera feature and take snapshots. While this device is a bit pricey, it is quite revolutionary because it allows people to take their existing devices and shoot some nice moon and planet shots. The SteadyPix Telescope Afocal Adapter for iPhone is available from Orion. It is a bit pricey but it is also quite useful for daytime photography.

Another interesting iPhone product is the app known as Starseeker. This app allows you to control your telescope either via cable or through wi-fi. This app is also available from Orion. This app may be better suited for use on the iPad because ot it’s larger viewing screen.

It is quite amazing how this device can integrate into astronomy applications, particularly if you are already using one out at the telescope.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Planetary Imaging of Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter reaches opposition this month. Opposition is the time when we are closest to the planet. Essentially this means the Earth is between the planet and the sun. It rises as the sun sets, and when it is high in the sky the views of it are at their absolute best.

Jupiter is a fantastic planet for visual observation. On an evening of good steady seeing, you can pour on the magnification and make out many details. For imagers using high frame webcams, they can produce results that rival what professional astronomers of only a few years back could accomplish. One observer, Anthony Wesley even managed to be the first to image and "discover" a large impact scar on the planet during an evening of routine amateur imaging.

The image above was shot last evening by John Kramer using a Meade LPI on a Meade LS8 ACF telescope using a 2X barlow lens and stacked in Registax. It displays the great red spot and the shadow of one of the moons. This is very affordable equipment, although the telescope is a high end self aligning SCT using an approximately 4000 mm focal length. This is a stack of approximately 250 images.