Friday, June 29, 2012

Something new!

I know, its been a little while, but things are busy as usual but I do have some highlights to share!

First, I haven't really been stargazing much since the Venus transit, but I will be trying a little more coming up this weekend. My son Nick has just transitioned from Cub Scout to Boy Scout and the troop found out I was an avid Astronomer so they asked me to teach our new Troop in the ways of Astronomy so they can get their Astronomy Merit Badge! How cool is that!!! That's at the end of July!

Now I just went to Toronto to check out Inman News Agent Reboot for Real Estate Agents on Technology.

It was held at the Toronto Congress Center just outside of the main City of Toronto. I went with a great guy, past president of our Association and he got to meet one of his new hero's Jimmy Mackin who is great at Facebook Marketing and the use of Social Media in Real Estate. Below is a picture of the two at the Tweetup the night before the Conference! Mike was excited.

The setup was for 325 people and as you can see the lay out it was big! We got 2nd row seating because we got there really early!

My view from my seat!

We met a few other Buffalo Realtors who took the trek up to Toronto! Melanie and Kathy Pritchard! It was great to see them and we sat together and had a great time!

 Here is Chris Smith - Chief Evangelist of Inman News and a great guy who really understands Social Media and he travels all over North America teaching thousands of Realtors how to use Social Media and extend their marketing options! 

 I would strongly encourage all Real Estate Professionals to get to one of these shows when they come to your area!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Astro-Photograpy Question

I get the question a lot, "What do I need to do nice pictures, like the one above?"

Well I wrote a neat email just recently to recap the basic premise of taking pictures like the Andromeda Galaxy, see below!

There are many telescopes that can connect a DSLR Camera to itself. The question is how much do you want to spend on it and how much time will he devote. 

Digital Astrophotography, is a time consuming job. It takes whole nights to get wonderful photography of the objects in space, and you need to have patience. 

What it consists of is taking a multiple pictures and exposing the pixels on the DSLR to the image at 10 seconds to 3 minutes intervals over the entire course of the night. You'll want a camera that has the wire to remotely snap pictures so you don't shake the scope to open the shutter. You also need the proper T-Ring Adapter for your kind of Camera. Also you may want an off-axis guide scope to keep an eye on the target so it stays in the same place so your pictures are perfect.

The scope must be capable of tracking objects(meaning it needs a computer or handheld computer) all night. It must be able to equatorial align to make tracking perfect.

Then you must process the images (called stacking) to create one image from all of the exposures. That is the end goal of most Astronomers whom want to show their work. This is an example of the Orion Nebula shot with a modest size telescope and post image processing.

Otherwise you will either take single image exposures of things and be like that was cool but I want more. There are plenty $50 - $100 USB camera's that do that but are only good for planets and the moon. 

So the question is how much can you afford to the purchase. 

I say you should use and read more about it there. Educate yourself a little to ask some specific questions, that I might be able to answer to guide your thoughts to the correct scope you want! 

Either way,
clear skies and good luck!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus Transit of the Sun

Yesterday, a once in a life time event happened here on Earth. Venus crossed the path of the Sun during the daylight hours and we could watch the progression of the 2nd planet closest to the Sun, and our neighbor Venus cross right in front of our very own eyes.

For the last 3 months we have watched the shiny jewel of a planet in our evening sky, light the night sky and have multiple pairings with the Moon, Jupiter and a few stars and that was pretty spectacular. Finally the planet caught up with the Sun and was now planning on crossing in front of it. This has happened only 4 times in the last 243 years and won't happen again until December 2117, or 105 years from now. It is a once in a life time celestial event.

Now the day started off cloudy, dreary and looked like little hope for the sun to even peek out, the forecast was to be a chance of showers in the afternoon. As the day progressed it started to get clearer and more blue sky and less clouds!! I was getting excited. I got home at 5:00 and the Transit started around 6:03 p.m so there was little time to waste. I got my scope out and had to calibrate it so it would track the sun properly without me having to make adjustments, and below is the view I had of the sky!


I brought out the scope and I needed power as my scope is very intelligent and once it is setup it can track objects and there is no need to touch the scope once the object you want to look at is in the eyepiece. This is very helpful as I can walk away from the scope for at least 10-15 minutes and come back and the scope is still centered on the object! Incredible! Above is a quick movie of how my scope auto tracks and finds what I am looking for, in this case I told it to find Venus.

My son Nicholas who loves Astronomy was just as excited and here he is holding the Solar Filter that goes over the front of my ETX-125 Meade Telescope. You could easily see Venus with out using the scope as the filter blocks 99.9% of light and the Sun looks awesome. Its like a Welder's glass.

I had a big puffy cloud show up right at 6:03 so I had to wait until about 6:11 and these were the first two shots I took!

Venus just starting to make it's way on to the Sun's face! Amazing!

Here is some progress shots and I used mostly a 26mm Meade Eyepiece except on the 2 close up shots where I used a 12.5mm Zhumell eyepiece. It was just a wonderful viewing opportunity.

Here is Nick viewing the Transit. We had neighbors stop by and look at it too. 

And my last shot before the Sun moved behind my neighbors home. 

I truly enjoyed this once in a lifetime event and I hope you do too!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Transit of Venus June 5, 2012

For those of us here in the North East this is what we get to see with the Transit of Venus on June 5th!

I hope for clear skies for everyone who wants to see this spectacular event! It won't happen again until 2117!