Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick
mckitterick

Bonus Astro-Image of the Day: A Flight to the Nearest Star

Here's my newest astrophoto taken with the Meade telescope. I took this one as part of a test to see if the changes I made to the drive's setup yesterday helped tracking. Unfortunately, soon after setting up the telescope and assorted electronics, I discovered that there's no Sun setting in the system. WTF? So I had to manually set it up using a compass and level. Seriously. Anyhow, the results don't really tell me much, because part of today's manual setup required pointing to two stars that I couldn't see, what with it being daytime and all. *sigh*

So I got results similar to the Moon shots: Once again, the drive didn't track correctly. Even more disappointing is that, through the eyepiece, I couldn't spot any sunspots or any other details, just a big, over-bright orb of Sun-ness.

(At this point you might be wondering why I'm not blind. Of course I used a full-aperture solar filter! Never point optics at the Sun without a true solar filter that covers all of the primary end of the instrument.)

Still, I thought it might be fun to once again image the movement and make an animated GIF to offer y'all what feels like a flight over the Moon! Here's a still from the animated GIF (which you can see under the cut):



During image processing on my computer is where I got really excited. Notice the detail you can see beyond the bright surface of the Sun: That's the Sun's corona. Wowee! I photographed something I didn't even realize you could see without the Moon eclipsing the Sun. Suddenly I'm really happy with the shots! If we could reduce magnification a bit more or gain a wider field of view, my photo would look something like this, taken in France during a total solar eclipse in 1999:


Click the image to see the story.

Optics details: I made this animated .gif from a series of astro-photos taken with a Meade 12" LX90 GPS telescope and a Meade DSI-III astro-imager. Taken at prime focus using an f/6.3 focal reducer, resulting in a focal length of 76.8" or 1951mm. Solar filter is full-aperture silvered glass by Seymore Solar. Screwed into the imager's barrel was an Orion adjustable polarizing filter set at about 25% to reduce glare.

Images are approximately 1/10 second each with an interval of a few seconds between them. During processing, I reduced image size, increased contrast 10%, and increased mid-range color 40% to reveal atmospheric detail. Images then run through an animated-gif maker (free version, hence the poor quality and silly "Trial Version!!" banner.)... to produce this flight to our nearest star:



I'm loving this whole digital-astrophotography thing.

Enjoy!

Best,
Chris
Tags: astronomy, telescopes
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