But If I *Could* See That Smudge…

In this image Mizar/Alcor, the double star in the handle of the dipper is just barely visible in the bottom left.  Follow the four star trail up to the right in his picture(but left from Alcor) then go to the middle star in the group of three off to the right, twice that far again then down a bit and there you are!  This image was done at the usual ISO 6400 1/2 sec. it’s only at 105mm zoom so if i can do this effectively i can re-center and zoom further.  I think i can see the trail of four stars in the LCD although they’re magnitude 5-6.  the spray of three i have to take on faith.

19-06-20 where is pinwheel 1483

in the gallery below the left hand shot is from stellarium and the right hand one is the original of the image above.

The pinwheel Galaxy by the way is almost 1/2 degree across – 24 arcminutes by 23. That’s about 40-50 X the size of jupiter at opposition. I just measured jupiter at about 57 pixels zoomed to 2000 mm so if my half-baked math is right it would cover say (40*57)*(105/2000) or about 90 pixels. That’s 1/6 of the size of the green circle. Zooming is definitely going to be needed although I’d still cheer for an encouraging smudge.

Also, I note in passing that Bode’s Galaxy is magnitude 7 so may be easier to see if i can locate it.

UPDATE: Checking again, those images are at 300mm equivalent zoom so the pinwheel might cover (40*57)*(300/2000) or 340 pixels. My best hope for improving my resolution is longer exposures at lower ISO. At 300mm the rule of 500 says anything more than 1.6 sec will smear but i’m working relatively near the pole and maybe the size of the object will work in my favour. Again, I’d be glad of a smudge at this point!

Playing with the telescopius camera simulation it says the pinwheel measures about 17 pixels across in a 550 pixel image – call it 1/30th of the field of view so 150ish pixels – certainly sizeable but i must have botched the jupiter comparo.


Scorpio Rising (also Libra)

I quite like this image of Scorpio rising over a country road near me. Bright Jupiter is on the left, then Scorpio with Libra a bit above and to the right. I greened the stars in Libra because it’s faint but Scorpio seems very nice as is. The three stars arcing up into the spray of three stars somehow bring to mind some sort of creature – why not a scorpion!
19-06-15 Scorpio-Libra 1457
Taken 10:30 pm June 9 looking south using the P900’s starscape setting which takes a “movie” at ISO 100, 25 second exposures. I stacked a couple of frames using rot’n’nstack and brightened it just a smidge to bring up the landscape a tiny bit.

These Are Not the Smudges You Are Looking For

19-06-10 pw4 1435 (2)
I briefly convinced myself that I had imaged the pinwheel galaxy near Ursa Major. After a couple of hours hard looking though I realized that I had lost focus and the smudge i was exclaiming over was really an 86 uMa, a magnitude 5.7 star that’s sort of in the right direction from the dipper but not really.

I went back to first principles and plotted a wide angle shot vs what i could see in stellarium then followed my zooming in as I gradually lost the plot.

My problem is that I often can’t see much until I load the images onto the PC and brighten them. So I take a ton of pictures, load them up and scan them and I’m like “ooh, a smudge!”

Oh well, I’ll probably keep trying the pinwheel because it’s always high in the sky but i may have to wait for andromeda to be more visible toward the end of summer.

Narrowly Escaping Cancer (Unfortunately)

I was out last night to try to get the Constellation Cancer.  It’s a bugger to aim blind and the sky was not great so I missed high.  The closest I got was what’s below.  The circled stars are Zubanah(Mag 4) and Asellus Borealis(mag 5) in Cancer. The green marks on the right are Castor and Pollux in Gemini and on the left are Regulus and Algieba in Leo.  Probably one of the stars between Zubanah and Gemini is 18-Cnc but I’m not sure.  Kind of pathetic but it’s all an education.  The lower image is my reference from Stellarium.19-04-18 Just Missed Cancer 1009

19-04-18 Cancer

Pleiades Closeup – Magnitude Limits

These were shot at ISO 6400 1/2 sec f5.6 at a zoom equivalent of 950mm.  In the second image i went through and picked out in green the six bright stars and underlined some of the faintest.  The highest of the underlined stars is the Sterope pair, magnitude 6.4, next lower is magnitude 8, and at the bottom left the singleton is magnitude 8.8.  This gives me some hope of imaging a deep sky object in the magnitude 8 range.

19-04-15 bright pleiades 860

19-04-15 green pleiades 860


I’m systematically capturing the constellations as I can – at least the zodiac. Gemini is high in the sky above Orion but washed out by light pollution.

The images below are from the cameras night sky video setting so they’re ISO 100, 25 second, f/2.8 exposures brightened with the windows photo tool. In the second Image I went through and put green tags on the stars – the notable ones are Castor and Pollux at the top and Alhena at the bottom left – those are all I can usually see with my naked eye.



I’m going to systematically capture the constellations – at least the Zodiac as I go through the year. I started with Leo because that’s my “sun sign”. It always seems odd to me that the zodiac constellations are assigned to the months when you can’t possibly see them – Leo is hidden behind the sun in August. But, for now, it’s high in the sky. The images below are taken at ISO 6400 1/2 sec f/2.8 no zoom so 35mm equivalent focal length 24.

Leo is one of the few constellations that I find evocative – i looks like a crouching quadruped to me.  The brightest star is Regulus at the bottom right – the heart of the lion.

19-04-05 Leo 831

19-04-05 green leo 831


ISS Three-peat

19-04-05 ISS 840Although it was 150km south of me over Kingston Ont the space station was very high in the sky and moving correspondingly fast. I got a couple of quick shots one of which was not awful. This was 1/2000 sec ISO 400 f/6.5 at full zoom(2000mm). I brightened it with the windows photos tool. I don’t know why we only see one set of solar panels but i’m prepared to believe it’s some sort of lighting effect.

More ISS-ing Around

No wolves last night but I caught the ISS twice just after sunset. First near Cassiopeia then near the big dipper. The space station shows up as a streak because these are long exposures. The Cassiopeia one shows more sky colour because it was nearer the setting sun.


19-04-02 dipper pass 2

These are both extracted from timelapse/night-sky videos taken by the camera’s scene mode which means they are 25 second exposures at ISO 100 – I’m guessing f2.8 but not completely sure.

Disappearing Dippers

I remember clearly as a kid seeing the little dipper pouring into the big dipper in the night sky.  Now the little dipper is just lost in the light pollution.  Even in my chosen, out-of-town spot, with a long exposure it’s hard to pick out.  The first image below shows pretty much what I can see – Ursa Major is clear but Ursa Minor is MIA.  The second one has been brightened considerably so you can start to see the stars of the smaller dipper.  In the third one i went through and painfully picked out all the classic “dipper” stars in green.

19-04-02 real dippers

19-04-02 dim dippers

DS19-04-02 green dippers