Category Archives: Special Projects

Summer triangle with bright Moon and plenty of cloud 16th August 2011

Lots of cloud and a bright Moon blazing away last night, so although conditions were no good for deep-sky imaging, there were a few stars to be seen, so time for a different sort of night time photography.  I got out the AstroTrac so that I could take exposures of a few seconds without star trailing, and loaded up the Canon 5D MkII with the Canon fisheye lens.  Using ISO 3200 f#4 and a 3-second exposure time I took the above images which shows (just) the summer triangle directly overhead.  This was actually an experiment to see if it is worth trying to video the space station passing over, again using the Canon 5D MkII and the fisheye lens – but no AstroTrac.  There are two passes tonight (17th August 2011) and if I can see any clear sky at all I will give it a try.

Pulsar Observatories dome for the mini-WASP parallel imaging array

Gary & Dave of Pulsar Observatories Ltd. delivered and fitted the fibreglass dome for the new mini-WASP imaging array soon to be operational at the New Forest Observatory. The mini-WASP array details can be followed on the New Forest Observatory web site – but in a nutshell – the mini-WASP borrows the idea of using multiple imaging scopes and cameras from the SUPERWASP project – basically to get the most data downloaded in the shortest possible time.  When fully kitted out and operational this will be the most powerful amateur deep-sky imaging facility on the planet 🙂

The mini-WASP undergoing a dry-run in the study

The mini-WASP array was connected up to the two computers for a dry run before transporting everything down to the new observatory.  Cameras, filter wheels, autoguider and Paramount all fired up and ran as expected.  I am hoping for great new deep-sky images to come out of this revolutionary imaging system.  To read more about the mini-WASP array and its development please go to the New Forest Observatory web site.

Above the clouds

A slightly better 10-frame panoramic view of the cloud-level lying below the 2390m elevation of the Teide Observatories site from which this image was captured.  Canon 5D MkII camera with a 50mm prime lens and the panorama was stitched using PTGui and processed in Photoshop CS3.

A focus-stacked image of a complete Hornet

This Hornet was found dead in front of the living room window one morning.  Glad it didn’t lose its temper while we were sitting down watching the box!  The wings on this one are 25mm (1-inch) long to give you an idea of scale – these are BIG beasties.  Far too big to go under the microscope even at the lowest magnification, this subject needed a different technique.  So out came the Canon 100mm macro lens and I manually focussed from the top to the bottom of the subject taking frames as I moved down in focus.  Altogether 18-frames were taken and I stacked them together using the truly remarkable Helicon Focus software.  Pretty acceptable result though I could take a little more care over the illumination 🙂

Enormous cloud panorama

The original of this image was created using 23 overlapping frames (Canon 5D MkII and 50mm prime lens) giving a 13739 x 7896 pixel image 🙂  Photoshop struggled with the 1Gb file.

Apparently this image was shown on last night’s (26/05/2011) Meridian weather – but I missed it 🙁