Monday, April 30, 2012

My Scopes and a Visit to Buff State Planetarium

Setup both scopes to compare the moon last night. It was quite clear and easy to see. 

On the left is a 10in Dobsonian Scope and on the right is a 5in Mak scope. 
When it comes to the moon both did excellent.

Here is a video I took while at the Planetarium. Dark Side of the Moon!

And another one. This was pretty neat!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturn from my Scopes!

Checked out Saturn with every eyepiece I had - 32mm/26mm/12.5mm/9mm/4mm and 1.5X Barlow on each. Could not see the Cassini division no matter how long I looked and used averted vision. The Planet isn't exctly tilting the rings at Earth its slight but probably not enough yet. I am hoping as the year progresses I will get a better shot at it. I am also thinking about looking for a camp site soon to be able to get away from some nasty light polution of my neighbors. All of them have lights on as well as there is a storage place and warehouse very close that casts a lot of light up so I need to try some place more remote.

Meanwhile I got this last night with my iPhone and you can see Titan below and to the right of Saturn.

And again tonight!

I also checked out M92 a magnitude 7.5 Globular Cluster which means a lot of stars packed into one area. It looked like a big fuzzy dot. 
Too hard to photograph with my current setup because its too low light.

I checked out to Pulsars and also M101 a Spiral Galaxy which was quite bright and where the Supernova is still going on! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Planetarium / Astronomy Day!

Last night I went to the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State College. It was to see a Laser light show with music from the Entire Album of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It was my first time at a Planetarium.

It was quite cool and very intimate as there about 25-30 people inside the domed room. I liked the music and light show and they give you prismatic glasses to enhance the light but I mostly didn't wear them. What I really liked and I will have to come back for is the projected the night sky and its normal motion so during certain parts it was like being out side all night long for a year. Which is impossible to do, obviously in real life. So I am going to take the kids one night and head there. It will only be open until 2013 when it will close and they are going to build a larger one but it will be closed for a couple years to build the new one. We then hit Coles and ETS and then Nietzsche's for some drinks and music! It was a great night out on the West Side of Buffalo! 

It was a clear night but chilly, around 27 degrees! I got home around 2:00 a.m. but there were some clouds and I was ready for bed. Today is Astronomy Day all over the world and in honor of that the Buffalo Astronomical Association (which I am a member!) is hosting a day time observing and a night time observing at the Beaver Meadow Observatory in Java NY. I plan on taking a kid or more tonight as I am coaching a soccer game this afternoon. I am hoping for a win on my first game of the season!
 If you can, get out and look at the stars and moon and planets tonight!!! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Desktop Planetarium Software

I found a great site if you need a desktop planetarium!

Its free and works pretty nicely. I love the zoom in and out features.

I will be testing it out over the next few nights to see how it compares to the night sky! Check it out!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moon and Venus

Well the storm was a complete joke, other that some light snow and a few spots East and South of here it was a overblown hype storm. I am thankful they are wrong, but I got a terrible night sleep because I assumed it was going to be terrible from all of the weather reports. Oh well here's hoping we have a great weekend now so I can get out and use the scopes! From mid-March to just a week or so ago we had many, and I mean many clear nights and I probably used the scope about 12 times and there were about 4-5 more nights I could not use it because I had other things happening. I am going to buy a handwritten journal to keep my observations. I know old school right? I might decide to take the written format of that book and create a web page to enter the same details but I have to find the right book to copy.

Today the Crescent Moon and Venus are close together in the sky.

I love this site for Astronomy help!
Its called Cloudy Nights -

I have been doing some side work for a couple offices to keep my tech skills sharp but it feels like it should be Thursday when its only Tuesday. Funny how hard work makes you feel that way!

Well enjoy the evening!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Storm is coming!!!

I know, its been a few weeks! Jeesh! It has been busy!

I am now coaching a U12 House league with my two son's on the team, a total of 11 kids. I am happy that I am helping out, and love playing with my kids! This will be my 6th season as a coach and I have enjoyed every year. Our first game is next Saturday and I want to have a practice tomorrow, but they are calling for a crazy amount of snow overnight and into tomorrow!

I will update you on the season of course as it goes along. Last season we went 9-0 as a team, but each year the teams change, so we will see what happens with this years group!

I have popped the scopes out a few times and even brought out my light bucket - Zhumell 10inch Dobsonian. It is great and I have spent a lot of time using the Meade LX-125 and its AutoStar computer. 

Sometimes on galaxies when I look through the Meade a Galaxy or Nebula is not clear but star hopping with the Zhumell brings the view of the object much clearer and brighter. A drawback of the Zhumell is it is big and heavy and its difficult to maneuver. It takes some getting used to but the views are dramatic and it helps to have a second scope to just point at stuff while the other scope hones in on another object. 

I have upgraded my equipment since last time, adding a Orion Bino Viewer, we two sets of eye pieces. I hear that this makes objects come in 3D and allows for easier observation of details. 

Also an EZ Focus cable on the ETX-125 for easier focusing, and an Electronic Eye piece so I can project to a computer Monitor or TV so people can watch what I am focusing on. And finally a camera adapter that was much cheaper that to buy a $300-$3000 CCD Camera. It was $35 and it allows me to mount my camera to the scope and use the eyepiece as opposed to just the tube and mirrors. 

All of this is due this week and I will update the blog when I get some images going and I will review the BinoViewer too!

Let's hope for a nice snow day and then some clear nights after that! :) 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I have been looking for a way to photograph what I am seeing in my telescopes.

I have been taking photos with my iPhone by holding my phone up and lining up the camera but its a pain and it only works on the moon and Sun.

They came out with this adapter for the iPhone and its expensive and I doubt that it will work as the camera isn't made for low light situations which is what you get out of a telescope.

I have tried a webcam from my laptop and had similar results like my iPhone, it has to be held perfectly and its tough to line up and then snap a picture or video.

There is a simple USB Camera that fits in the eyepiece that has low reviews and its the same price as the iPhone adapter - $59 but as I said it has very poor reviews. Here is the eyepiece I am speaking about.

Meade used to make a DSI (Deep Space Imager) camera but no longer does but there were many sold and I have seen some on Ebay and other sites that sell telescope accessories. What I really need is a CCD (Charged Couped Device which is meant for Astrophotography, but these can cost over $400 - $3000+ dollars! Yikes!!

Am I ready for that?? There are software packages that can take your images and overlay them as taking pictures isn't like your normal everyday pictures. You actually have to track your target, and do long exposures.  3 seconds to several minutes to gather as much light as possible. In order to do that you need and expensive camera and a tracking scope that actually stays with the object you are trying to capture.

I have more research to do but I plan on getting into it more in the future and will post as I come across some.

Friday, April 6, 2012

InfoTech BETA Awards and IAAP Speaking!! Busy!!!

What a busy week! I got to attend my first BETA Awards as a Board Member. What a great time and I met the other Peter Cimino of Lloyd's Taco Truck! What a nice guy! And then the following night I spoke in front of 65 IAAP members and explained Cloud Computing and Social Media 101. It was well received and I am glad I got the opportunity. Tonight I got out the scopes and checked out M81, NGC2841 and M101 the Pinwheel Galaxy. They were quite impressive in my little scope and I checked out the Moon and Jupiter, Mars and Venus. Very clear out but the full moon is eating up a lot of the stars so it makes it a little harder to see. Happy Easter/Passover!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My iPhone + Telescope + Moon = Awesome!

I took this beauty last night through my telesope. It was a cloudy late afternoon and then around 7:00 the clouds broke up but looked like they were going  to stay with partly cloudiness. I setup the scope right away because the moon was out and i could still see it through the clouds. It was light out and the cloudy haze made the moon look cool. Faded and somewhat distant. But as soon as the clouds broke, the Moon looked too bright almost to the eye!! So I popped a filter on to lesser the brightness and add some contrast and waited, because it was still to light out. I checked out Mars while I waited and its very small in my scope, but very orange / red-ish and to feint to photograph with my current setup. You can easily see dark spots on Mars but very hard to see. I need to break out my bigger scope for that but it takes a lot to move it! Anyway, finally around 8:30 it was dark enough and all clouds were gone. I put my iPhone up to the eyepeice and slowly moved till I was at the perfect angle and I could see the Moon and steadied the phone till I got this shot! I took another 4-5 but this one was the best.

I stayed out until 1:00 in the morning as the dew set in and everything was foggy. Looking at The Orion Nebula (M43) and several star clusers as well as M95 an elliptical / bar galaxy that had a recent discovery of a Supernova in the limb of one of its spiral arms. You must be patient and know the star charts and I love using the apps on the iPad. I woke up like a kid this morning excited to replay the details in my head of what I saw. 

I love Astronomy!!