gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for the ‘Astronomy’

Exciting things in the night sky… or so I’m told

December 27, 2019 @ 17:29 By: gordon Category: Astronomy

So, there are interesting things going on in the night sky right now. Betelgeuse, the shoulder of Orion the Hunter, is the dimmest it has been. This is exciting for astronomers because it could be the prelude to Betelgeuse going supernova. Or not. (Or at least not yet.) It is, apparently, visibly dimmer than it was just a few weeks ago, which is a pretty big deal, astronomically-speaking.


This doesn’t bode well for watching the Mercury transit on Monday

November 10, 2019 @ 00:46 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Weather

While starting to prepare for observing the transit of Mercury on Monday, I took a look at the cloud cover forecast for Monday morning. It’s not terribly encouraging:

There is an intriguing hole in the Eastern Townships near Sherbrooke. That might be the place to be.

Maybe the forecast will change between now and then. (It could happen.)

The last transit of Mercury until 2032 is on Monday

November 08, 2019 @ 12:59 By: gordon Category: Astronomy

Source: Wikipedia

The planet Mercury will passing across the face of the sun on Monday, November 11th. The transit starts at 07:35am Eastern (12:35 UTC) and ends at 1:04pm (18:04 UTC). This will be the last transit of Mercury until November 13th, 2032 (it’s a Saturday).

Observing it is a bit challenging because you can’t just walk outside with a pair of binoculars and stare at the sun to see the tiny black dot that will be Mercury. You need special solar filters for your binoculars/telescope/camera to make it safe to look at — a neutral density filter is not sufficient. If you don’t use an appropriate solar filter, you risk causing yourself serious eye damage and you could also ruin your binoculars/telescope/camera in the process.

My photo of the last transit of Mercury

I observed the last transit of Mercury in May 2016 in front of where I work at lunch using a piece of #14 welder’s glass in front of the lens of my camera. My plans for the upcoming transit include both my 6″ telescope and my William Optics RedCat 51, with proper solar filters, of course!

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have the necessary equipment. If you want to observe it, members of the Ottawa Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be at Marion Dewar Plaza outside Ottawa City Hall (110 Laurier Avenue West) from 7:30am to 1:30pm with their telescopes and the public is welcome to drop by and observe it safely. Monday is Remembrance Day, so be sure to leave yourself lots of time to get there.

Looking North at FLO with the iOptron SkyTracker Pro

August 11, 2018 @ 11:36 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Photography

I was out at FLO last night. The viewing conditions were surprisingly good. I was showing my iOptron SkyTracker Pro to someone and decided to see how long of an exposure I could use and still have the stars as points rather than becoming little arcs. So, I set my timer at ten minutes and started the exposure.

Click the image for a larger version.

I’m really happy with the result. You can clearly see the Andromeda Galaxy in the right half of the image and it appears that I caught a Perseid meteor almost in the centre of the frame.

The trees look kind of ghostly because the camera was tracking the stars, which causes the trees to appear to move in the image. Had I not been tracking the stars, the stars would look like arcs.

More Milky Way

August 01, 2018 @ 21:38 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Photography

Here’s another image from the same outing that my previous Milky Way photo. This one is made up of 3 images of 5 minutes exposure, each and then some work in Photoshop. I knocked down the light pollution of Ottawa in the bottom left corner, but there’s still a bit “goo” to be dealt with.

The Milky Way galaxy

July 26, 2018 @ 17:30 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Photography

I went out one evening last week and did some long exposures of the Milky Way galaxy using my Canon 70D on my iOptron Skytracker Pro. This is the result after stacking 4 images of 5 minutes exposure, each, and doing a bit of work on them in Photoshop. I’m fairly happy with the result, however I want to do a bit more to try any knock down the light pollution near the horizon.


Orion Nebula from the field

February 16, 2018 @ 21:28 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Photography

I’m out in the cold shooting pictures of stars. This is one I pulled off the camera and edited on my iPhone using Photoshop Express.

Its a single 5 minute exposure using my iOptron Skytracker Pro.

Can’t wait to see how it turns out when I stack all the images later.