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Tuesday, July 28

Universe Today: Stuart Atkinson art

Check out the Universe Today website:


Here you'll find a link to one of Stuart Atkinson's recent astro-art images of the Mars Rover Opportunity. Stuart has strong links with CAS and runs the Eddington Astronomical Society down in Kendal.


The Epsilon Aurigae eclipse has begun - It's Official!

Following my talk a couple of months back, I promised I would keep you posted on what is happening with epsilon Aurigae. The latest is the eclipsing object is now back after 25 years and is showing in the spectra I am taking, though it will probably be a week or two yet before it becomes measurably fainter. To make these discoveries official and to keep the astronomical community up to date the International Astronomical Union issue "Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams" (CBET) Here is an extract from CBET 1885 :-)

"E. O. Waagen, AAVSO, writes that R. Leadbeater, Wigton, U.K., reported (via the AAVSO Discussion Group) the spectroscopic detection of the start of a predicted eclipse for the long-period binary star epsilon Aur. The last eclipse was in 1982-1984.
A redshifted component in the K I 769.9-nm line has appeared in LHIRES III observations obtained on July 20.081 UT, offset by +15 km/s and with 62-mA equivalent width. This emerging feature is uniquely associated with eclipse phases, wherein visual light declines by 0.75 mag over 18 months."

More information about my eps Aur observations can be found on my website

Sunday, July 26

Shadow on Jupiter?

At the end of my observing session on Saturday morning, as the dawn sky was brightening at around 3am, I tried some quick shots of Jupiter to see if I could pick out the new impact scar (see previous blog entry).

Unfortunately, the lens had misted up quite badly by this point (unknown to me) so the image quality is not good.

Is that a dark scar on the top right side of the planet? Probably not...

[Image details: ZS80, Phillips Toucam ProII, 1000 frames stacked with CCDTools]

Veil Nebula mosaic

The following image is a mosaic of the Veil Nebula in its entireity, taken Friday night with my newly modified Canon.

Three separate groups of shots were merged together in Photoshop.

The first image, of the Eastern portion of the nebula, is 11 x 5 minute shots at 400ISO.

The second image, of the central portion is 1 x 5 minute shot at 400ISO.

The third image, of the Western portion of the nebula, is 3 x 5 minute shots at 400ISO.

Unfortunately the cloud came in and prevented a decent number of shots of the central and western portions, but nevertheless a fair amount of detail has come through.

All images were taken at prime focus of the William Optics ZS80, with an Astronomik CLS deep sky filter fitted. Images were calibrated with darks, bias and flat frames prior to co-adding in ImagesPlus.


Thursday, July 23

July CAS meeting - cancelled

Just a reminder to everyone that there will not be a meeting this month due to summer holidays.

Asteroid impact on Jupiter?

An amateur astronomer named Anthony Wesley has recently discovered a dark scar on the face of Jupiter with his backyard telescope, which is likely a result of an asteroid or cometary impact similar to the Shoemaker-Levy 9 event of the 1990's.

See Astronomy Picture of the Day for more...

Tuesday, July 21

Gamma-Cygni with modified Canon 300D

Finally, I succumbed to the temptation to have my Canon 300D modified...nervously I despatched it (insured) to Andy Ellis at Astronomiser and within 2 days I had the camera back in hand.

The speed of the service is second to none and Andy was good at letting me know when he received the camera and sent it back.

I was a little nervous about having the filter removed from the CMOS sensor, even though it was being done professionally. Rather than just having the filter removed I had it replaced with a Baader filter that cuts IR, but allows the H-alpha, H-beta and O-III through at 95% pass.

The resuts are spectacular...

Gamma-Cgyni with surrounding nebulosity
7 x 5 mins @ ISO400
Very poor seeing, with cloud often interrupting
William Optics ZS80ii, Modified Canon300D

The sensitivity of the camera is now fantastic. Can't wait for a decent clear night instead of one dodging the clouds!


Tuesday, July 7

June 2009 CAS Meeting

Thanks to all for attending the June 2009 CAS meeting last Tuesday. We were a bit depleted probably due to holidays, but it was a very interesting meeting with a riveting presentation by Robin on his recent Pro-Am collaboration on "The Mysterious Epsilon Aurigae" eclipse.

We were joined by two prospective new members at the meeting and we'd encourage them and anyone else interested in furthering their knowledge of the universe to come back!

Other topics covered included the demise of the Kaguya/Selene lunar orbiter. See here www.kaguya.jaxa.jp/index_e.htm for more info and great HDTV footage from lunar orbit.

The June launch of the new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter also featured. Additional details of the mission can be found here: http://www.lro.gsfc.nasa.gov/

And finally...we have Dennis to thank for another great CAS monthly newsletter, which you can download here: www.jghpics.freeuk.com/letter_july.doc

Please remember that there will be no meeting in July. We will post a note to confirm whether the August meeting will be going ahead or not, subject to summer holidays. Clear skies!