Friday, July 24, 2015

Backyard Scenes

Nice Rainbow!

Views of my rather ordinary backyard sometimes yield surprises. At dawn on June 26th I found a young deer feeling secure enough to lie down in the grass beyond my telescope pad.
On July 7th the southeastern sky seemed strangely lit. When I looked out the back door a very nice rainbow arched across the sky. Unfortunately, I couldn't construct a full panorama from the photos I took. Instead, the next three separate images show the full extent of the rainbow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back in Business

New Routine

More than three weeks had passed since my last observing session. Almost every day had been cloudy, and the Sun had been mostly blank. Finally, on the morning of June 29th, conditions improved. The temperature was just below 80 degrees, the sky was clear, and there was no wind. That's about as good as it ever gets at this time of year.

On this rare day I continued trying to remove annoying interference fringes from images produced by my new camera. Flat fields removed vertical interference fringes, but made oval fringes worse. A tilt adjuster removed oval fringes, but didn't remove vertical fringes. Obviously, I needed both a flat field and a tilt adjuster. This combination worked! All interference fringes disappeared! So, finally, I can establish a routine for successful imaging with my new camera.

Only the Sun's eastern edge had interesting features this day. Other parts of the Sun were mostly blank. The following image is a 7-panel mosaic made with a 5X Barlow lens. It shows nice prominences on the eastern limb along with solitary sunspot 2373 which had just rotated into view.
The inverted version of the previous image highlights some pretty cloud-like filaments.
Finally, here's a close up of the prominence on the southeastern limb.
From now on I'll use a tilt adjuster and a flat field during every session. I'll also experiment with exposure times to find the best values. Observing conditions are usually horrible during July and August, however. Even when a rare cloud free day comes along it's hard to concentrate in 95 degree heat with high humidity.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Birthday Party!

Agile Kid!

My sparky granddaughter, Sophie, recently celebrated her 5th birthday at Go Ape, a local adventure park. She and her cute-as-can-be friends were firmly buckled in to safety harnesses before climbing up into the trees.
Sophie fearlessly hopped from one obstacle to the next. She took the lead while chattering a constant stream of instructions to her Mom who followed close behind.
See, Mom, this is how it's done!
A zip line provided the exit from each loop of the adventure course.
After several trips around the course the four sparklers were ready for some birthday brownies and juice.
It was a perfect mild day with a nice breeze to blow bugs away from the shady table.
What's better than being a birthday girl safe and secure among friends and family on a glorious day?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Binocular Eyepiece

Awesome 3D Views

During my April visit to the Northeast Astronomy Forum I saw an incredible view of the Sun through a binocular eyepiece. That experience convinced me to get a binoviewer for myself.

My new Denkmeier binocular eyepiece arrived recently. It's an exquisite piece of optical equipment! I had a chance to use it for the first time on May 5th.The first two pictures below show how the binocular viewer replaces an ordinary single-barrel eyepiece at the back of my telescope.
Two identical 21 mm eyepieces go into the binocular viewer. 
Two sliding handles behind the main body of the binocular allow an observer to insert different lenses into the light path to achieve three different magnifying powers.
Viewing with two eyes is a definite improvement over single eye viewing. The Sun takes on a three-dimensional character when seen simultaneously with both eyes. The image appears clearer, with more depth, and details seem easier to see. 

At lowest magnification the whole Sun nearly fills the field of view. The view is magnificent! Sunspots, filaments, active areas, and prominences are packed into an all-encompassing knock your socks off view. I can't believe I'm seeing this stuff from my own back yard! I want to grab my neighbors and say, "Check this out!" The views should be even more impressive when I eventually get a double stacked system.

Higher magnifications also work well, although the entire Sun no longer fits in the field of view. With higher magnification moving the telescope slowly is like flying over the solar surface on a sightseeing tour where individual magnified features can be examined in more detail.

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon