Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Solar Filament near AR1535

Enjoy this amazing shot of the Sun by local photographer and TexasAstro.org member Bret Dahl.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

News Coverage of Venus Transit Event at Russell Planetarium

The viewing at the planetarium yesterday got a lot of media attention. There were trucks out from Channel 4 and Channel 23. Here is the coverage from Channel 4 which includes an interview with Gary Carter of the Texas Astronomical Society. You can see our equipment at about the 30-40 second mark (that's me in the light blue shirt and Tilley hat).

2012 Transit of Venus

2012 Transit of Venus
Originally uploaded by neatonjr
Well, between the Texas heat and summer thunder storms, seeing Venus transit the sun was challenging but it was still an exciting event. A nice sized crowd turned out at the Russell Planetarium (West Mesquite High School) were we set up our 8" Dobsonian and shared our Canon image-stabilized binoculars for public viewing (both outfitted with Baader film filters).

I also set up our Parks 60mm refractor but instead of having people line up to view directly through it, I used a barlow to attach my Nikon D7000, tethered it to a laptop and displayed the transit full-screen on the laptop while capturing live high-def video. So, rather than a long line like the other telescopes, with this setup a small crowd could watch at once. When the clouds obscured the view, I could play back the video and still allow people to watch - handy for the few people who arrived during a cloudy period and had not yet been able to see the transit.

Did I mention it was hot? It was ironic that we were all out there anxious to see the sun but also wishing for shade. And with the sun so low and the heat in the 90s, the turbulence was pretty bad so pictures and video weren't as sharp as they could have been but, wow, it was still an amazing sight.

Thanks to Paul Ballou for hosting this event at the planetarium. Besides having Texas Astronomical Society on hand with telescopes and the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science present to help, he was showing the live NASA feed of the transit from Mauna Kea in the theater so during periods where it was cloudy, people who attended could go inside and cool off while continuing to watch the transit.

Only another 105 years till we get to do this again...

Here's the video:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 2012 Annular Eclipse from Albequerque

Lots of stories to tell about this eclipse but for now I'll share this quick sequence I put to together using some of the shots I took with my D7000 and a Baader film filter and also share what happened to that filter.

I created the filter by mounting the Baader film on the lens hood for my 55-200mm lens. I also created filters for our Nikon binoculars by mounting the film on cardboard tubes that fit over the binocular objective lenses. After the eclipse, we were packing to travel and I wrapped all three filters in clothes packed in our suitcase. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell my wife and she washed the clothes, including the filters. Noing left of the cardboard or Baader film, though of course the lens hood is fine.

So, I get to create a new set for the Venus transit coming up up June 5th. Thankfully, we'll see that from home so I don't have to worry about the next set going through the wash...

Click the eclipse montage to see more information on what went into creating it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

June 5th, 2012: Venus Transit of the Sun

Venus Transit with the Sun
Originally uploaded by Paultyrrel
Get ready... on June 5th, last opportunity at a twice in a lifetime event, Venus passing in front of the Sun (called a transit). It happened in 2004 but after this one you'll have to wait another 105 years to see it happen again.

This photo is one I included in a Flickr gallery called Transit of Venus that highlights a few interesting pictures of past transits on Flickr.

More to come after the 5th.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Evening Reflections

Evening Reflections
Originally uploaded by neatonjr
A fisheye lens borrowed from a friend (thanks, Steve) produced this interesting view of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter reflected in our pool.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 GLOBE at Night Campaign

It's that time again... time to get outside, check out the sky for a few minutes and make a contribution to preserving dark skies. Time for GLOBE at Night. If you didn't see my posts in 2009 or 2010, read on.

GLOBE at Night is a citizen-science campaign open to people all over the world to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and report their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only our “right to starlight”, but can affect energy consumption, wildlife and health. Through 2011, people in 115 countries contributed 66,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night one of the most successful light pollution awareness campaigns to date. This year, the campaign takes place over 4 weeks:
  • January 14 through 23
  • February 12 through 21
  • March 13 through 22
  • April 11 through 20
To learn how to help, check out the campaign at www.globeatnight.org.