November 27, 2011 on 8:25 am | In Mars, Planets, Satellites | Comments Off

Well we left after the launch and the trip home on the Saturday after Thanks giving took us 10 hours! Almost two hours were spend to cover a 20 mile strip before the Florida Turnpike merges with I-75. But we made it.
The launch was spectacular and it was a real experience to see in person what happened accross the water and marshes 4.5 miles away. My son let me use his 200mm zoom lens for my camera, and leaning the camera on the railing of the bleachers of the viewing area, I just kept the shutter button pressed with the camera set on continuous shooting until the camera stopped. (Out of space or power). Here one of the cropped images.


July 30, 2010 on 7:13 pm | In ISS, Satellites | Comments Off

It has been coming a long time.  An image of the ISS transitting our Sun.  The last attempt this past Monday failed because of last minute confusion about the time.  Today Frank Garner and I set out to capture this afternoon’s Sun transit of the ISS on its 67033 orbit since its launch on November 20, 1998.  The distance to the ISS was 405 kilometers.  The angular size of the satellite was 47.2″, which makes it 1/40th of the diameter of the Sun.  The ISS came close to Sunspot AR1092 and some nice solare proms are visible also.  We almost missed this pass as an object passed accross the field of view about 20 seconds prior to the ISS, which we first thought was an early pass.  We stuck to our imaging plan and caught the right pass on time. It also appears that the transfer between the camera and my laptop was quite busy, since it skipped a few images in the sequence.


May 19, 2010 on 7:35 am | In Satellites, Satellites-ISS-Shuttle | Comments Off

Frank Garner, Stephen Ramsden and I went last night to Charlie Elliott for another ISS/Shuttle session. I made two Clips. The first one while the duo was ascending, the second when it descended in the sky on the way to SSE. I stacked a few frames and sharpened them a little. Here two images of probably my last chance to image the final mission of STS132 Atlantis while docked on the ISS. Since the crew was woken up around 2:30 ET, the crew was asleep while these images were taken.

  ISS-Atlantis0002 10-05-18 21-15-55Out_Y8castr.jpg  ISS-Atlantis0002 10-05-18 21-15-55Out_Y8castr5-6-7-8.jpg  

February 20, 2010 on 8:25 pm | In Satellites | Comments Off

I just imaged a nice Iridium Flare.  Iridium 14 reflected the sun with its right antenna with a brightness of -7.4 and the center line was only 600 meters from my home!  What a treat!   In addition, it passed by in Monoceros very close to Orion, so I decided to make the shot wider so I would get Orion, Sirius and Procyon in the same view.  I hope you like the image as much as I do.


October 9, 2009 on 7:19 pm | In Moon, Satellites, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Well, 4 of us, Frank Garner, Dan Schmitt, Jon Wood (Yes Jon!!) and I, setup scopes this mornig early to image the LCROSS impact. However at 5:00am we were covered with a blanket of clouds. Eventually they went away, but just about 5 minuts before the impact, a thin blanket of clouds moved in. The first avi 1/2 minute after the impact was reasonable but the others became worse as time went on.  The processed images did not look different than the once I took two days ago for the trial run, except the quality was a lot worse.
Shown here is an animated sequence covering a period of 5 minutes.  From Two minutes prior, to 3 minutes after the impact.  The only change in the images is the level of overexposure caused by the density of the clouds moving through.  The target area is just inside the crater and a little left of the overexposed area on the left. (Click the thumbnail to activate the animation).  Don’t forget to look at the movie I made of this event on YouTube.


Watching NASA afterwards, it looked like we did not miss anything, because all visible observations they showed did not show a plume either.  I wish NASA would not have made such a hipe out of the LCROSS mission and get all those kids involved in observing. It must be a let down for them not to have seen a plume.

July 4, 2009 on 1:34 pm | In Jupiter, Moon, Planets, Satellites | Comments Off

This is my first attempt to image an eclipse between two Gallilean moons.  This morning between 6:21 UT and 6:28 UT, the shadow from Io did transit  Ganymede.  This was an annular eclipse, but because of the difference in size of the two moons the drop in intensity of Ganymede was 0.35.  The animation makes up 18 frames between 6:16 UT and 6:34 UT with the transit being captured in frames 6-12 of the animation.  Because I wanted to have Jupiter in the image the moons are a little under exposed.  All images were processed the same:  250 out of 500 frames captured at 1/27 sec in IC Capture, stacked in Registax with mild wavelets applied (same setting for all).  No additional processing was performed in Photoshop.  Photoshop was only used to create the animation.  My next attempts of occultations or eclipses will require to increase the maginification for a better resolution.  Please click the image to start the animation.



December 5, 2008 on 9:14 pm | In Satellites | Comments Off

Calsky did forecast a very bright flare from Iridium 5 for tonight.  When talking to Jon Wood, he suggested to take the camera out, set it at 30 seconds and “let it rip”.  Well I did not set it at 30 seconds, because I wanted to control when to end the exposure, but positioned the camera well so it would pass throught the field of view.  As announced, Iridium 5 came thru and flared above my head with the left solar panel, but then came the nice flare from the right panel on the way down.  the brightness peaked at -6.3 and was brighter than Venus in the west.  Here my 55mm, 51 second image at f5.6 and ISO1600.

My house, where I took the image, was only 2100 feet from the center line of the flare. The red area along the wire, is a red tape moving in the wind. The tape is tied around the telephone wire crossing the road.

In addition, there were some thin clouds in the field of view with the moon shining right above them.




November 20, 2008 on 11:55 pm | In Satellites, Satellites-ISS-Shuttle, Shuttle | Comments Off

Tonight, November 20th, was the third night in a row that I observed the ISS when it flew over our area. Jon Wood decided to go to CE and I joined him. I have tried several times to capture the ISS on previous flybys but never managed to get a close up. The star trail images were as close as I got….. until today.

After many failed attempts, finally a closer image.  Exposure is a problem because of the direct reflection of the sun on the Shuttle, but I am pretty happy with the result of this image of the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked on the ISS. Today is also the 10th aniversary of the International Space Station.  And while I took this image, an EVA was in progress and spacewalkers Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough were working on the starboard solar alpha rotary joint. Click on the image below for a larger picture, or Click here for a short movie with all 31 images of the flyby.


Atlas Rocket Fuel Dump

May 28, 2008 on 1:15 pm | In Satellites, Satellites-ISS-Shuttle | Comments Off

This image was taken on December 10, 2007 at 7:03 pm EST from the Dutch Observatory.


Around 7:00 pm I received a call from Jon Wood. His wife Janet, spottet a large “spot” in the sky. We were all thinking of Holmes, but as we researched the event on the web, it became apparent that we were seeing the fuel dump of the upper stage of an Atlas Rocket who had positioned a spy satelite a few hours before and dumped the remaining fuel before re-entry. Thanks Janet and Jon Wood for the call so we could image this event!!

Camera: Canon XTi (400D)
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 30 sec.
F stop: f/5.6
Focal length: 22 mm

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