The Partial Eclipse…Partially Captured.

Now that I have just about recovered from a great Nightfall, it is time to start posting the fruits of my sleepless days and nights in Borrego Springs.

Eclipse

As I arrived on Thursday afternoon, I was just in time to catch some of the partial eclipse.  However, I was just arriving and it takes about an hour to set everything up.  Luckily, I have been preparing for this day and I whipped out my camera bag and attached my already set up solar capture lens train consisting of a manual 200mm lens, with and ND 1100 filter on the front and a Kenko 2X tele-extender on the back to my Canon EOS-M camera.  A quick tripod setup and I managed to focus (somewhat) on the solar events.  Not the best focus, but after three plus hours driving, my eyes weren’t the best.  Also, I forgot to magnify the image on the screen to get a better focus.  That happens when you are rushing.

 

 

Anyway, I also took a movie.  You can see the sunspots change during the minute long film.  All this event lacked was a coronal mass ejection and it would have been a trifecta of infinite proportions.  BTW, the next day there was a spectacular CME.  Oh well, it was still great.

 

 

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

And So It Begins…Nightfall Has Arrived.

Once again, I am making my pilgrimage to astronomical nirvana by attending Nightfall.  This year’s event is going to be a show stopper.  Not only is there the usual advanced courses available, this year there is a another complete track for not-so-advanced astronomers.

Also, our sponsor, Woodland Hills Telescope will also have astronomical goods on sale during the event.  This is great because I can’t tell you how many time that I forget that one piece of equipment/cable/something that my entire rig depends on to function.  Not only does this make me VERY angry, it also makes me go to the nearest astronomy store (about 80 miles away through the mountains, still closer than home) to get it.  Not this year.

I will be giving a talk, along with fellow Riverside Astronomical Society member Daniel Perry, about mirror-less cameras and astrophotography.  Daniel recently picked up a Sony A7s, which has great low light sensitivity (not any of the other A7 models, just the A7s).  While I will be talking about my significantly less expensive Canon EOS-M, which also has great low light capabilities.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each one.

I will also be manning the Solar Pavilion with always popular Lunt 152mm solar scope.  I will also have my Lunt 60mm solar scope and a Coronado PST.  We are only supposed to be open for about an hour, but it always turns into an all day event.  Thank goodness for pop-up shade tents.

I hope to see you there, but in any case, I will have plenty of images from the event for you next week (if I survive the trip and the event).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Look At The Pretty Light.

In preparation for the upcoming Nightfall event, I took my modified Canon Rebel T2i out in the back yard to take some solar images.

This time I decided to try something different.  I have a 200mm f8.0 Opteka mirror lens (catadioptric) manual focus lens.

ROCOLAX-72mm-ND10000-Optical-Neutral-Density-ND-13-Stop-Filter-for-Camera-Lenses

An ND 10000x filter on the front of the lens.

And a Kenko 2x teleconverter to attach the lens to the camera.

IMG_6316 (modified) IMG_6318 (modified)

Two different exposures done without much in the way of focusing on my part (this was just a test), but the results were pretty good for single images taken without a solarscope on a shaky tripod just to prove a point.

Another interesting thing about these images is that no commercial software was used to download or process the images.  It was all done on a Mint Linux 17 machine using DCRaw plugins, the default camera import program gThumb and RawTherepee and GIMP for the image processing.  With a little practice (and perhaps some stacking (I will be using Regim an open source stacking program), I should be able to obtain even better results.  Probably the best thing I can do, however, it to spend more than a second focusing (it is HOT out there!).

The reason that I am doing all this is that I will once again this year be co-hosting the Solar Pavillion at Nightfall on Saturday.  Technically, we are only supposed to be open for an hour, but in the last two years we have done this, the line starts forming about two hours before and it goes all day.  Last year we even had requests to open on Sunday.

I will take some more solar images tomorrow with my Canon EOS-M as I need some more images for my Friday talk on mirrorless cameras for astrophotograpy, the high and low ends of the spectrum.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

A Pirates Paradise…Sort of.

This past weekend was the RAS’s annual themed star-party weekend.

Mary Ken

Frank Food

Although there were lots of pirates, food and booty for all, the wind kept my observatory shut. 😦

Saturn

Being the resourceful astronomer, there is always more than one way to view the night sky.  The Moon and Saturn had a particularly close arrangement.

Moon_Saturn

Up close it was even better.

Milky_Observatory Jtree_New_Lens

So, out came the Canon EOS-M (love this camera) and I took some images for my upcoming talk at Nightfall.  The top image was a 20 second image with the stock 22mm F2.0 lens that came with the camera.  The bottom image is with my new Rokinon 10mm f2.0 15 seconds.  Not as focused as I would like, but in a 20mph wind, things move a little.

Hotel pool at the Palm Canyon Resort

If you haven’t ever been to Nightfall, it is one of the best gatherings of astronomy amateurs in the country. Held at the Palm Canyon Resort in Borrego Springs, California.  The resort changes all the exterior lighting to red lights for the event and the local community comes to visit and learn.  Workshops are given all weekend.  Almost all of them are free to attend.

Nightfall Premium Workshop Presenter - Warren Keller

The premium astrophotography workshop will be given by Warren Keller.  Warrne is a world-renowned astrophotographer and lecturer.

Warren’s Workshop
It’s Not the Plane. It’s the Pilot: Flying with Photoshop and PixInsight
Saturday, 10/25 from 10:00AM-4:00PM

The cost of the workshop is $60, a very reasonable amount for this quality of education.

This will be the 10th year that I have gone to this event and I can hardly wait.  More information can be found here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Riverside Astronomical Society Star Party Weekend Recap.

It was a great weekend for viewing or photographing the night sky.  The new roof worked great.  I’ll have some images processed this week and post them.

Only a few newcomers at the party, but everyone had a good time.

A lot of meteors, most likely remnants of the Persieds from earlier.

We had meetings to discuss the future development of the site and are anxiously looking toward Nightfall.  This years event will have even more than the past 20 years.  We will once again be at the Palm Canyon Resort and RV park.  You need to act fast if you want to be onsite.  Otherwise there are two other hotels near the event that still might have openings.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Nightfall Recap.

So I am showing some shots of my 20th annual Nightfall experience.  It was a wonderful time.

1

Passing by the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

2

At the top of the Anza Borrego basin, looking down about 3,500 feet.

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Borrego Springs from on high.

3

A plaque dedicated to the people who donated this land.

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Don’t fall over the edge, it is a long way down.

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The Solar Pavillion, where on Saturday, I helped people enjoy the view of the Sun with my 60mm Lundt solar scope.  Although, Mike’s 152mm Lunt scope had far better views.

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Although I couldn’t get my camera to take great shots, I was able to image the sun using eyepiece projection.  It was really active on Saturday.  Lots of sun spots, flares, prominences, and a couple of loops.

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After the Solar Pavillion closed down for the day, we had our pot luck dinner.

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But everything was not to be.  Saturday afternoon the clouds rolled in and messed up imaging for the night.  It did make for some nice sunset pictures though.

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Early Sunday morning on my way back, I stopped to take a picture of Mt. Palomar observatory that you can see for miles around in this area.

Until next year!

The time lapse did not happen 😦 for a variety of reasons, but hopefully next year will be different.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman