Anomalies Last Night!

It’s not a plane. It’s not a meteor. It’s not even a satellite. What is it? No, it is not little green men either. A few weeks ago I captured this while imaging M16, the Eagle Nebula. It’s probably something the size of a grain of sand skipping on, or burning up in the atmosphere. It just happened to be exactly in the middle of my frame.


Move up to last night and I saw something really odd that I’m trying to trace. So, if you were imaging in Cepheus, namely the Elephant’s Trunk. last night (7/30-31 11:20PM-11:36PM Central US) and saw something similar, let me know.

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Why Are We Always Whining About How Hard This Is?

You’re just taking pictures of the sky, right? How hard can it be to just point the camera up and click a button? Maybe set a timer. People generally aren’t that condescending when they ask me about the difficulties of imaging deep sky objects, but they clearly don’t understand how damn hard this is. And that’s fine, why would they? Most people just click away on their phone or point and shoot camera, and off they go. A more advanced photographer trying to stabilize a 500mm lens might have a slightly better idea of the difficulties of long exposure photography of a moving object through a telescope. Maybe I can offer a bit of a primer for what I find most challenging, and why I choose to take on the challenge.

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Summer Opportunities for Everyone

June has arrived and the treasures of the Southern Milky Way are coming into a viewable window for me by about 11:30PM. Great objects like M51 and M101 are still perched high in the sky after dusk, but if I’m being honest, they don’t pique my interest as much as the brightness of the Lagoon Nebula, the colors of the Trifid or the majesty of the Eagle. Just like I wait for Andromeda and the Triangulum galaxies to rise up in August and dominate the fall, and Orion to take center stage in November to dominate the Winter. The Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way can contain a Summer full of imaging in itself.

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Milky Way Treasures

I haven’t been out under the stars much at all lately due to weather and busy schedules, but I found myself staring up last night at a clear sky. It was too windy, and too late to bring out the whole rig. I dragged out the mount and my daughter’s 70mm f10 toy scope to show her Jupiter. It was windy and seeing was terrible as a cold front had just come through in the afternoon. We had our ten minutes of fun looking at a fuzzy Jupiter and I brought in the scope, Leaving the mount out as there was no chance of rain.

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Back to the Sky!

I got out under the stars last night for the first time in two weeks! I screwed up the location of my mount by about a foot and M101 was on the edge of tree branches most of the night, wasting a couple hours. I wasn’t even upset about it. I was just happy to be out. Rather than move the mount and realign everything, I slewed over to M5 (The Rose Cluster) to grab some data before I went off to bed about 3 hours before I had to wake up.

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64-bit Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) is Here!!

Version 4.2.1 is out now and has many speed enhancements over the initial 64bit release (link at the bottom).

I stumbled upon this last night after not imaging for a couple weeks due to weather. There are no release notes on the version, but I’ve been waiting for this since I started, so I went ahead and downloaded it. So far, so good. The look and feel are basically the same with only slight visual tweaks.

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So Your Child Wants a Telescope

At some point, if they haven’t already, your child may have an instant interest in space and you’ll want to help them along with a telescope. As with all kid’s interests, it may be fleeting, or it may be more persistent. Buying the cheapest telescope you can find is sure to make it a very temporary experience. Telescopes and mounts range from $30 to more than most houses. The $30 scope will be a useless toy, and the higher end scope would most likely sit in a permanent observatory. You don’t have to spend thousands for an enjoyable experience, but you’re best off spending a few hundred dollars (US) to avoid a lot of pitfalls common with beginners.

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