Friday, 12 November 2010

2010-11-05: A night of Planetary Nebulae

As mentioned in the previous post, last Friday Miguel Sánchez and me expent few hours at SATAN Hill in ESAC to test few imaging and tracking topics of our equipment. The observing conditions, on spite of the New Moon, were pretty bad but still allowed to do some imaging tests. In particular, Miguel wanted to test the "Polar Align" option of the CG5 mount of his 15 cm Newtonian and I tried to do a manual Polar aligment refinement using as a reference the AR of an equatorial star to improve the orientation of the equatorial fork mount of my SCT C8. As the night conditions were not good enough to image low surface brightness objects like galaxies we selected as targets two planetary nebulae.

The following image shows the M27 Dumbbell Nebula. It was captured with the Miguel equipment and the Meade DSI CCD with 2 minutes of exposure without any additional guiding. The shape of the stars is very circular showing the good polar aligment achieved with the CG5 Mount. The image was obtained by means of only a histogram stretching using SAO Image SW. The central star can be identified without any doubt.

The Dumbbell Nebula (M27)

The next image shows the M57 Ring Nebula. It was captured with my telescope and a Canon 400D camera in the prime focus with ISO 1600. The picture was produced stacking four images of M57 with 2 minutes of exposure and stretching the histogram with AstroArt SW. As the shape of the stars is not circular, it means that something was wrong with the station of the telescope Maybe because it was very fast due to that the SMOS pass was comming.

The Ring Nebula (M57)

I cannot resist the oportunity show an image never posted here of M57 produced four years ago (2006-07-13) with the Leo's telescope (a 60 cm Dobsonian) and the Meade DSI CCD. The picture was produced stacking 24 images of 1 second of exposure. The result as you see is quite impressive. The central star of the planetary nebula is clearly visible.

The Ring Nebula (M57)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

2010-11-05: SMOS track

Last Friday, Miguel and me were at ESAC to perform some imaging& tracking test with our equipment in a new edition of the Friday's experiment "program". Between the targets that we selected, we tried to image the track of SMOS. Predictions can be done easily by everybody using the heavens-above website to forecast the passes of LEO satellites. Thus we detected pass over Valencia suitable to capture an image of the track: satellite-to-ESAC range around 1000 km and eastern pass, i.e. illuminated over dark sky. Finally, we tried and the following image was captured by us using a 500 mm. SCT Vivitar Telelens and a Canon 400D Rebel at ISO 1600 and 30 seconds of exposure.

I have been working with the image to try to estimate the SMOS intrinsic magnitude (not reported yet). It can be very useful for SSA and other operational events, specially in the case when a satellite must be localized to have an independent orbit assessment (e.g. a satellite radio black out... like in the case of XMM recovery. But, I must recognize that the capture was not a well planned experiment. As at that moment I was not sure about the effective field of view of the telelens, the imaged area didn't covered enough good stars to localize easily reference star brightness. In this case, it is very difficult... even with the Mount Palomar Survey plates... ;) ... Apart from the field distortions introduced by the SCT Telelens (no field correction, vigneting, etc), the main difficult was that not all the star-like features are real stars... With the fast changes of arrangement... I forgot to take some flats and darks and now I cannot discriminate these features... sometimes they can be well identified with the colour but in this case the image was taken in gray! In consequence and resuming, I'm afraid that by now I can forget to use these images to derive the intrinsic SMOS magnitude. However, some lessons can be learned from this experience for the next trials that for sure, we will perform very soon...

To avoid tracking problems:
  • Select the equipment: field of view (FOV) is very important!
  • The equipment must be stationed carefully... not in 15 minutes!
  • Analyse and Plan carefully the areas crossed by the track to be able to change from one area to another. In this case, I tried first with a well prepared area close to Cassiopea but the capture failed due to a FOV problem (not well known for the used SCT Telelens). After the fail I moved very fast to Pegasus without enough time to assure the pass and identify the area. Fortunatelly, it was catched up!
To reference the images: The FOV should be wide enough to capture bright starts easy to identify in the catalogues: preferably tracing constellation stars.

To correct the images: some darks and flats must be taken just after or/and before the imaging.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

2010-10-26: Significant Solar Activity

The following picture was captured on 2010-10-26 at 12:58 GMT from Majadahonda with a C8 SCT with a Canon 400D in the primary focus. It shows the solar photosphere with the sunspot groups 1117 and 1115 and faculae near the limb.

Solar photosphere on 2010-10-26T12:58 GMT

Just later, two videos of 15 secs were captured attaching to the primary focus a Phillips Toucan Pro Camera with a NIR blocking filter. The pictures below were produced stacking the individual frames using Registax. In these images more details of the sunspots and their umbra, solar granulation and faculae can be observed.

Sunspot group 1117 on 2010-10-26T13:05 GMT

Sunspot group 1115 on 2010-10-26T13:15 GMT

The following pictures show cromosphere details in H-alpha. These images were produced stacking two videos of 15 secs captured around 14:00 GMT with a Phillips Toucan Pro Camera and a 2x Barlow attached to a Coronado PST. In the first image, cromosphere filaments and spicules can be observed above and around sunspot group 1117. The active area between sunspots suitable to produce flares is quite evident in the image.

Solar Cromosphere on 2010-10-26T14:00 GMT

The next image shows a large eruptive prominence produced by an active region behind the limb.

Eruptive Prominence on 2010-10-26T14:15 GMT

Friday, 22 October 2010

2010-09-29: Jupiter just after the oposition

This is an image of Jupiter taken from Majadahonda on 2010-09-29 with a Celestron 8" SCT. The camera was the usual Phillips Toucam Pro with a NIR cut filter and a Barlow x2 lens. It was used to capture a video of 15 seconds that was processed with Registax to stack all the individual frames. The picture is the result of this processing.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Pruebas con Camara Nikon D50

He aquí tres pruebas rápidas hechas con nuestro Telescopio y una Nikon D50 (E. Ojero) enchufada a él con un adaptador especial para cámaras SLR Nikon (A. Talavera).

1 - Júpiter con los satélites, T=1/2 seg

2- Júpiter sólo, T=1/50 seg

3 - Luna, T=1/500 seg

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Star Party, viernes 15 de octubre de 2010

Todos estabamos deseando volver a hacer un Star Party, para poder disfrutar de una noche de observación con los demás miembros del Club y con los amigos, y además poder estrenar el nuevo telescopio del Club. Y por fín lo hemos podido hacer.

El pasado viernes 15 de octubre, con una asistencia entre 200 y 300 personas, celebramos un nuevo Star Party en ESAC. Además de casi todos los miembros del Club, participaron muchos compañeros de ESAC, con sus hijos, familiares y amigos. También acudieron muchos amigos de asociaciones de astrónomos amateurs de la zona de Madrid a través de la llamada de algunos miembros del Club.

Tuvimos un cielo limpio de nubes aunque la temperatura bajó bastante. La Luna estaba en cuarto creciente, lo cual hizo difícil la observación de algunos de los objetos débiles pero resultó ser un gran atractivo para las personas que se “estrenaban” en la observación. Es indudable que la magia del “terminador” y las largas sombras de las montañas Lunares son un gran atractivo para los que se acercan por primera vez a un telescopio.

Muchos participantes trajeron sus telescopios, con lo que batimos todos los records en número, tamaño y calidad de los mismos: el magnífico Dobsoniano "Obsession" de 63,5 cm de Leo Metcalfe, otro Dobsoniano de 40 cm de Fernando y Leo, dos magníficos Celestron EdgeHD de 27,9 cm de Carlos Anaya y de Patricio, el Celestron EdgeHD de 23,5 cm del Club y otro similar que aportó Carmen Morales por el Laeff, el Meade de 20 cm de Eugenio Salguero felizmente recuperado, dos Newtonianos, el de 20 cm de Michel Breitfellner y el de 15 cm de Migeul Sánchez, la maravilla de Takahashi de 9 cm de Eduardo y Paloma, el Newton de 7 cm de Miguel Pérez, los ETX-70 de Ricardo Pérez y Roberto Prieto, etc.

Participantes montando los telescopios

A lo largo de las casi cuatro horas, todos pudimos ver la Luna, Júpiter y sus satélites, Urano, Neptuno, Mizar y Alcor, Epsilon Lyra (doble doble), el cúmulo globular de Hércules (M13), las Pléyades, la galaxia de Andrómeda (M31), la nebulosa anular de Lyra (M57), la nebulosa Dumbbell (M27), y otros objetos. El gran Dobsoniano de Leo nos siguió deleitando con su extraordinaria luminosidad a pesar de que el ordenador de guiado se había quedado sin baterías. Pero la pericia de Leo permitió que la larga cola de niños y adultos que querían pasar por el telescopio, no resultasen defraudados. Tambien Carlos y Patricio nos ofrecieron magníficas imágenes de Júpiter y la Nebulosa Dumbbell, mediante filtros de color y un estupendo binocular.

Sesión de observación

Antes de acceder a la observación en la colina de la antena Satán de IUE, nuestro sitio favorito y tradicional de observación, el Club ofreció tres presentaciones: Luis Sanchez nos habló brevemente de lo que hacemos en ESAC, qué proyectos y qué actividades desarrolla la ESA en este centro; Miguel Sánchez nos explicó muy breve y rigurosamente qué es un telescopio y qué tipos podemos encontrar tanto para uso por los aficionados como en los instrumentos profesionales; y Eduardo Ojero nos dio una rápida visión de los objetos que podiamos observar en esa noche, desde estrellas dobles, pasando por planetas, galaxias, nebulosas, etc.

Sala de actos durante las presentaciones

No exageramos al valorar este evento como un éxito rotundo no solo de público y telescopios, sino tambien por la satisfacción de pasar una noche muy agradable disfrutando del cielo en compañia de nuestros amigos y familiares.

Participantes desmontando los equipos hasta altas horas de la madrugada

Una colección completa de las imágenes del Star Party la podeis encontrar aqui.

Star Party! More than 300 people enjoy at ESA the greatest show on Earth

The night sky is, in every sense, the greatest show on Earth. But Madrid, like all big cities, is not the best place to enjoy it… unless you come to ESAC.

The ‘observation campaign’ organized last Friday October 15 by the ESAC Astronomy Club was definitely a success, a true star party with about 300 people –including children- gathered around a dozen telescopes.

Atendees during the observation

Guess what was the most appreciated view in the night sky? The Moon! While the Moon is usually a nuisance for astronomers –its brightness makes the other celestial bodies more difficult to see-, last Friday it was highly admired: “The Moon is a great object for kids, and for all those who are really not used to see through a telescope”, says Eduardo Ojero, president of ESAC Astronomy Club. “People love to watch the magical terminator, the line separating the illuminated and the dark sides of the Moon, where you can see the long shadows of the mountains”. Jupiter, Neptune and Urano were also in display, as well as the M13 globular cluster, M31 (Andromeda's Galaxy) and M57 (Ring Nebula in Lyra).

star party, esac
ESAC Star Party participants during the observations

The king of the telescopes was Leo Metcalfe’s… 63,5 cm Dobsonian (25 inches). But the new telescope of the Astronomy Club, a Celestron 9,25 EdgeHD CGEM, also behaved wonderfully on its first public appearance. There were also other smaller scopes : a wonderful 40 cm Dobsonian, two 11 inches Celestron's EdgeHD, several Celestron 8 and Newtonian of 20 cm, a Takahashi 9 cm, etc.

The star party started at 19.30 with several presentations about ESAC, by Luis Sánchez, from the SOHO team; and about how telescopes work. Miguel Sánchez-Portal, a member of the Herschel team, also explained why sometimes it is necessary to send telescopes to space to collect radiation that gets blocked by the atmosphere, such as most of the infrared light, ultraviolet radiation and X-rays and gamma-rays. Eduardo Ojero then introduced the kind of objects that would be observed during the ‘party’.

“It was a wonderful occasion for everyone to learn and enjoy with the sky”, says Ojero. “Even for professional astronomers! We spend so much time analysing the scientific data that we sometimes forget what all our work is about!”.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

El próximo viernes 15 de octubre, si el tiempo lo permite, haremos un Star Party en ESAC, al que estáis invitados todos los miembros del Club, familiares y amigos.

Tambien hacemos extensiva la invitación a todos los empleados de ESAC, familiares y amigos.

Para inscribirse, podéis hacerlo en este enlace.

El programa provisional es el siguiente:

19:00 - 19:30 Recepción de participantes.

19:30 - 20:30 Presentaciones sobre temas astronómicos.

20:30 - 01:00 Tour por las constelaciones con punteros laser. Tour de observaciones desde varios telescopios incluido el nuevo Telescopio del Club, un Celestrón 9,25 EdgeHD CGEM.

Si tenéis un Telescopio, os animamos a que lo traigáis y os unáis a nosotros en las observaciones.

Esperamos tener buen tiempo y poder disfrutar de una estupenda velada de observación.

Os deseamos un Feliz Star Party!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Primera luz del nuevo Telescopio del Club.

Y por fin hicimos primera luz del nuevo Telescopio del Club, un Celestron 9,25 pulgadas EdgeHD CGEM. Una maravilla!

El tiempo era muy malo y amenazaba lluvia, así que sacamos el Telescopio sólo unos metros fuera del edificio B de ESAC.

Tuvimos algunas dudas !!!

A pesar de las gruesas nubes, la vista de Júpiter fue espectacular y al menos compensó no poder observar más cosas.

Estas fotos hay que agradecérselas a Carlos Anaya, miembro del Club, que tambien estuvo presente.