Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year - 2011 Solar System Review

I did not get out as much this year as I did last, mostly due to bad weather all around.
I missed Venus and my consolation is I can get the transit next year! 
Also no asteroids, dwarf planets or comets for me.

Highlights are 2 contest winners and a whole year with the new scope, Akule!

Thanks and happy 2012!!

with labels


Friday, December 16, 2011

Cloudy Nights November 2011 Winner

After numerous submissions and only a single semifinals win, I finally won the finals.

I can honestly say I am honored that the people on the CN forums, who taught me most all of what I know think so highly of my work.

Thanks everyone!!!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

3 GREAT nights on Jupiter Nov 7-9, 2011

We finally got a break and some nice seeing from November 7th to the 9th.  I got a shot of Uranus on the 2nd night which I'll post later.

As always click to get full size and here is the rest of this season!

Night one's 2 shots:

and the seeing deteriorated later

2nd and BEST night!

Moons with reference:

and monochrome channels:

I knew the progress of the High Pressure moving overhead meant peak on the 2nd night, but the forecast for the 3rd was good.  I knew it couldn't be as good as the 2nd night and I only stayed out for 1.5hrs on the 3rd night.  Managed one nice shot:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My best Jupiter of the season so far

Finally some clear skies and mostly steady air.  Not the best over the course of the past 4 nights, but avg to above avg and since it's been quite some time and having had rain for a week plus, I'll take what I can get.  I reworked my processing routine to include some Registax6 wavelets before performing deconvolution in AstraImage.  I found it takes the edge ringing out quite a bit.  One of these day's I'll finish my v9 routine for posting and sharing.  Here's the old routine (

As always, click for full sized images:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jupiter 20110913 1009UT

Feeling good about this, but plenty more to eek out of this new scope! Only above avg seeing on this, the wasn't even a full arc of airy disk around nearby Aldebaran.

As always, click for full sized images:

and 100% sized

rest of this season is here:



PS Mercury too, but process later, more good seeing tomorrow am

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mike's Morning Planets

For the first time in a long time I had enough good weather to get 3 planets in the same night.  Here are a tiny Mars, and my 1st of the season:

Click the image for a larger view:

I had to shoot Mars 1st, as it was headed for a tree limb and not to clear before dawn and the main target, Mercury.


Next was Jupiter, just past the meridian and sporting a prominent Oval BA:


and the toughest was Mercury, if only because it didn't clear the trees until well into dawn.  I had a hard time finding the right focus positions at lower magnifications and as such, I only got a shot at native focal ratio of f/4.5.  Here's that shot, but 3x upscaled in ninox and even on the screen I could see the phase, but it's not enough magnification for any detail.  Next time!

Astronomy - Solar System - Mars (2011 - 2012)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jupiter in avg seeing

I'm finally gaining some rhythm with the new scope and weather.  

I hope to be ready for lost sleep and some good seeing.  SOMEDAY!

Click for large view and rest of season:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ATTENTION: I am switching my photos and videos

As soon as I catch up with all my 'existing' photos and videos I will start using Google Plus (G+) for new photos and videos.  You may have already started receiving them there.  If not, let me know and I'll be sure to add you to my circles and send a G+ invite.  Over on G+ the photos and videos autoupload from the cell phone in very high quality (8MegaPixel cam) and 1080p videos, and in nearly realtime.

It's been fun Multiply, but it's time to upgrade!

Astronomy stuff may land here or in Picasa Web albums... not sure yet, but do use the main page for astro stuff,


Monday, August 1, 2011

Using Sikuli to automate ObservationManager

Here's a nice video tutorial that I made to show Sikuli automation of observationMnager.

Some ideas included are:

User interaction during the script
Script interaction with external applications (IE Not strict patter matching)
Ease of use



Monday, July 11, 2011

1st Jupiter of the 2011 season 20110710

1st of the season and 1st for the new scope.
I've also been building my v9 processing routine that relies on Sikuli for total automation.  Note quite there yet, but getting closer.  
I took many captures and was able to sort them quickly to find the best one to focus on.  
I've got lots to learn about processing at this monster scale.  This is only a 125% resize and it's quite early still.

Click for full size:

Rest of season here, will go here:

Use the RSS feed here:


Astronomy - Solar System - Jupiter - 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saturn...a little something

I've been out a bit trying to improve my collimation skills and hoping to ride the seeing forecast.  I've got collimation somewhat under control, but still holding out for seeing.  Perhaps I can get a little help from my cooling project.  Detail on that later, 1st the best of the past 3 times out.

Click to enlarge.

Enjoy the rest of the season here:


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saturn 2011 05 09 in avg seeing

Chomping at the bit for good seeing I braved a couple nights of average seeing with no clouds or rain to grab this decent shot.

I installed some fans on the cell and practices my collimation techniques in weeks prior and still have some work to do, as the tiny star test in the lower left corner can attest to.

Here's a video from the next night, to be posted later in better collimation but worse seeing

Click to enlarge
I did forget about the meridian flip, i'm N/S reversed!  SORRY

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mars 2009 - 2010 FINISHED!

I had taken it upon myself to go out as often as possible for this apparition.  As long as it was clear, I was out imaging.  Most nights were mostly poor as is frequent in the winter around here.  This was the 1st time using a 5x PowerMate in my C8i.  I long planned to get a large aperture, fast f-ratio Newtonian, and now do.  Having this plan in my mind it seemed fitting to use it this season on a bright, but small planet in Mars.  Here's some highlights that haven't seen the light of day in the past year...

My attempt at getting Phobos and Deimos using an obscuring bar made from aluminum foil.  I only got apparition, both with animation and a 14"!

and one more

I do apologize that some of my orientations are N-up and some are S-up.  Worse than that, some are just plainly mislabeled!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Akule's 1st *real* shot at Saturn

After some long streaks of poor Astronomy weather but good people weather (aka warm and breezy) we finally got a break here in NC.  I put a simple indoor/outdoor thermometer on the mirror to measure the air and mirror temp.  I need some active cooling.  I couldn't keep the scope less than 2.5°F above ambient.  Still, the forecast of 4/5 seeing worked well and I am VERY happy with the results.

As always, click to zoom and here's the rest of the Saturn 2011 season.

Also, here is the telescope's vital stats, details, construction and photos

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Akule 1st light!

Technically 2nd, but 1st under the stars on the mount.
I've since moved the focuser to the underside and don't need to get as high on the ladder or could even user a shorter ladder or step stool.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Akule Sonotube Tubework v1

I had to reposition the secondary spider 2x times...
and no, no paint on the inside!
net-net focus is achieved for all my wants

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