The sun 2017-01-28

The sun shows only few spots when near solar minimum. Today the Spots AR2629 and 2628 were clearly visible.

Astrophysics 127mm f/8 with Nkon TC-14EII and Nikon D750 Baader solar film (photographic density).

Taurus Molecular Cloud

Inspite of all the beautiful stars, I have a fascination for the dark stuff lurking between them Today I managed to get almost an hour of exposures of the Taurus molecular cloud,

The dust cloud between the Pleiades and Auriga is called the Taurus molecular cloud, 27x120s (54m), AF-D Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 at f/2.8, Nikon D750, ISO 800.

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Giant Sunspot AR2456

These days the large sunspot AR2456 is very prominent on the sun’s disc:

M13, M5, M57

In spite of bad seeing and strong gusts of wind I did set up the big refractor to do some astrophotography. I spent quite some time to get things running – in the end the spring galaxies were already too far west in the glare of the train station, so I switched my targets to two globulars and a planetary nebula. Here is a list of what went wrong:

  • I wasn’t aware that the D750 uses a non-standard USB port on the camera, I had to search for half an hour to find the original cable
  • the laptop I usually use has been upgraded to Windows 10, installing the drivers for the guiding camera did not work
  • on the backup laptop guiding with PHD worked, but Backyard Nikon crashed and/or got no connection to the camera, I tried many combinations of USB extension cables, USB ports, removing the SD card, formatting the SD card, upgrading to BackyardNikon 1.0.5, in the end I focused using live view of the camera and used the built-in interval timer of the camera to shoot 30 second exposures…
  • the seeing was really terrible, making focusing difficult, and bloating the stars during the exposure
  • for reasons unkown (user error?) the quality setting on the camera was changed to FINE, so I only took JPEG images instead of NEF( Raw)

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Preparing for the mercury transit

Today I was making sure everything is in working order for Monday’s transit of Mercury across the sun.

I was able to fix the issue of the declination runaway motor of our club’s LXD-650 mount, and took some images using the 127mm refractor with a 1,4x teleconverter.

The sun 05-05-2016, Astro-Phsyics 127mm f/8, Nikon TC-14E II, Nikon D750, 1/4000s, Baader ND3.8 photographic solar film

The sun 05-05-2016, Astro-Phsyics 127mm f/8, Nikon TC-14E II, Nikon D750, 1/4000s, Baader ND3.8 photographic solar film

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Meade LXD-650 Declination Runaway repair

The last time I wanted to do some deep-sky astrophotography, I ran into an issue with our astronomy club’s LXD-650 mount – immediately after switching it on the declination motor started to run at high speed.

After some research on the internet I was able to resolve the issue, by tweaking the setting on the potentiometer responsible for the declination encoder LED light.

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2003 Mercury Transit

On Monday, 9th of May will be another transit of Mercury across the sun, here are some pictures from May 7th 2003:

Gif animation of mercury entering the suns disc.

Gif animation of mercury entering the suns disc.

Early morning May 7th some amateur astronomers in Vorarlberg packed their gear to observe the Mercury transit from the Bödele above Dornbirn. We had some beautiful weather, and while there were few visitors, TV and Radio came and kept us busy with interviews.

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