Jupiter in Taurus

IMG_0049Since it was a nice clear night, I thought I’d take the opportunity to have a play with the camera to see what images I could capture of the night sky.

The obvious candidate was Jupiter, shining very brightly in Taurus. I took several images at various ISO settings and exposure times, but this one seems to have come out the best. Alderberan (the red star) can also be seen.

Light pollution as ever a problem, but doubt that will change at least while I try and take photographs from home. Very tempting to take the camera to some lovely dark countryside locations. Could have done with it in North Sweden a few weeks back!


Astrophotography question?

For those that don’t already know, I’ve a couple of webcams on the roof, unprotected, securely mounted using the cheapest gaffer tape available. The site isn’t great, but it sort of works. It’s at http://webcam.willowhey.net¬†Please don’t go crazy on it, otherwise it’ll kill my internet ūüôā But you get the picture (excuse the pun).

It uses Ubuntu and the UVC driver, with the “motion” utility, and for what it does, I think it does it quite well.

What I’d really like to do however, is somehow use the webcam to take long exposure ¬†photographs¬†(maybe up to 10 seconds) of the night sky to see what I can capture. I’ve had reasonable success with a normal SLR, but wanted to see what was possible with a half decent webcam.

Most information available is for modifying a webcam to look down a telescope, well maybe that’ll come later for me, but it’s just a long exposure shot with the standard webcam I’m after at the moment.

It appears that the UVC driver doesn’t support it, so before I go looking at using one on the Windows platform, does anyone have any ideas if it’s possible with linux?

Thanks! Mark.


A view of Gemini – Astrophotography


At this early stage, I'm still just feeling my way around. Given the degree of light pollution both generically from the town, and locally neighbours, the best view can only really be deduced once outside. I had planned some further investigation of stars in Leo last night, but too much residual light from the town made efforts futile. Instead, my view out towards the NW (out over the sea) was quite dark, and given the neighbours outside light was off, gave the best options. So instead, I tried some constellation mapping (wide field) of Gemini.
I soon noticed, that even though this direction offered the best view, the lowest magnitude visible was still fairly high (to the naked eye). It's only when you take an image (this one is 10 seconds), that some of the fainter stars become visible. I've labelled all the major stars in the constellation, but was surprised to notice, that even on this wide view, it's *just* possible to make out M35. To be fair, I couldn't really see much in the spotting 'scope either, but it must be remembered that it was fairly close to the horizon. 
I'm genuinely surprised what can be caught on a fairy standard point and shoot camera, granted the G11 wasn't cheap, but with an ISO3200 setting and 10 second exposures, I seem to picking up a lot more detail than I expected. The maximum exposure I can have is 15 seconds, but I find that light pollution often is too great for that length of exposure, and in addition, the stars "trail" a lot more. Still, I do recall reading somewhere it's possible to get software to remove trails, so may take a look for that at some point.
My views are very restricted, anything looking from N through E and up to S is useless unless it's *very* high in¬†the sky. All due to the street¬†lamps on my road.¬†Anything S through to W is a no go up to about 30 degrees high (light pollution from the town).¬†Anything W to N is best, that is¬†of course¬†unless next door neighbours¬†outside light isn't on. Must have a word about that one day, but they have only just moved in and I don't want to¬†rock any boats yet ūüôā
And so ladies and gentlemen, I present, Gemini….

Latest offerings (Astrophotography)

Over the last couple of evenings, when I finally could get outside when a) it wasn't cloudy, b) the moon wasn't in the sky and most importantly c) when one of my next door neighbours hadn't left their outside light on, I managed to take achieve my "task". I was wondering if it was possibly to use a standard camera (on a tripod) to get an image of one of the more popular open globular clusters M44 in the constellation Cancer. The answer it appears, is yes. To the unaided eye, it's very hard to spot Cancer since most of its stars are brighter that magnitude 3.5 and under light polluted skies, that's hard to see. Sure with binoculars it's pretty straight forward, so to start things off I took a large field image (which I've labelled). Castor and Pollux of Gemini are on the right, The entire constellation of Cancer is in the centre and the head of Hydra can be seen below. I've highlighted M44 in the square, all this with a 13 second exposure. M44 can clearly seen. By the way, it looks far more impressive through a decent set of binoculars or spotting scope ūüôā
As a further experiment, zoomed up as far as I could go (optically) on camera and took another image, this time to see if it was possible to see M67. It's a far harder target, and to be fair, it's only *just* about possible to make it out with the spotting scope so I didn't hold out much hope. Some may say I'm seeing things, but I'm fairly sure that in the second image (also highlighted), it's possible to make out something (also highlighted). Long shot I know, but further encouragement to press on!