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.


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 +


Windows booted from the ISS.

Most of you know that I am an advocate for FOSS  (free and open source software).  Not that I begrudge anyone from making money, because you can still make money from FOSS, just ask Google, Apple, Yahoo, Netflix, Red Hat, Intel….yada, yada, yada.  Even Microsoft has products that use FOSS and even has FOSS projects of their own.

It seems that NASA has decided to drop Windows from the laptops on the International Space Station (ISS) in favor of Linux.

Keith Chuvala, a United Space Alliance contractor, manager of the Space Operations Computing (SpOC) for NASA, and leader of the ISS’s Laptops and Network Integration Teams, recently explained that NASA had decided to move to Linux for the ISS’s PCs. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable — one that would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust, or adapt, we could.”

It appears that when you are in space, you might need to look at the source code to make changes during an event, just as Curiosity and its recent stray radiation problem.

Scientific Linux Logo.

ISS astronauts will be using computers running the well-tested and reliable Debian 6 version of Linux. Earlier, some of the on-board computers had been using Scientific Linux, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone.

I have been working on getting Scientific Linux (with some modifications) to run my observatory, mount and cameras.  I hope to have a presentation ready soon so that people with limited budgets can take astrophotos without having to invest thousands of dollars in software, like I have done over the years.

Linux has been used on the ISS ever since its launch and at NASA ground operations almost since the day it was created, it was not used much on PCs in space.


Linux is also running Robonaut (R2), the first humanoid robot in space. R2 is meant to carry out tasks too dangerous or tedious for astronauts.