20FEB15
20FEB15

Tonight’s Spectacular Triple-play Conjunction

My entire neighbourhood is surrounded by 80+ foot trees, so Tonight’s Spectacular Triple-play Conjunction is partially hidden by trees, however, I love the effect that I was able to achieve!

MoonVenusMarsFeb20_2015
MoonVenusMarsFeb20_2015

The Moon and Venus and Mars, oh my!

The Moon, Venus and Mars formed a beautiful grouping in the western sky above Hamilton tonight. It was well worth the risk of frostbite to view. I snapped this photo with a point & shoot camera from our driveway.

I turned to face north just before 7:00 pm to catch a very bright pass overhead by the International Space Station. I snapped a photo of the ISS (it’s the streak in the image below) as it passed Jupiter in the ESE.

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New Horizons; Space Exploration Today - March 13, General Meeting
New Horizons; Space Exploration Today - March 13, General Meeting

General Meeting for March 13, 2015 @ 7:30pm

New Horizons; Space Exploration Today

There was a time when young men and women stood on a shore and looked out to the horizon, imaging what new lives a ship might transport them to. They imagined new sights, new wonders and in their minds they imagined new worlds.

This summer, after travelling a decade through the dark and quiet of space, a small craft that bears a name that recalls these brave people, will truly see a new world. The New Horizons spacecraft will give us our first look at Pluto as just one of the many amazing sights that are in store for us in this golden age of space exploration.

This richly illustrated talk is suitable for all ages and takes us from Earth to Mars, the asteroids, Pluto and beyond as we look through the mechanical eyes of these far flung probes and are witness to these new sights, new wonders and new worlds.
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C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, David Tym
C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, David Tym

February Event Horizon Newsletter

The latest issue of our club’s Event Horizon newsletter is now available.

In this issue you’ll find…

  • The Sky This Month
  • Comet Lovejoy Gallery
  • Astronomy Crossword
  • Upcoming Events
  • Plus Much More!

Download your copy from the newsletters section.

Photo credit: C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) by David Tym.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), Bob Christmas
Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), Bob Christmas

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), by Bob Christmas

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on January 13, 2015, approx. 7:30pm to 8:30pm from Caledonia ON.

I used my Canon 40D, Astronomik CLS light pollution clip-filter and my Tamron 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens on my Super-Polaris EQ mount.

Settings: ISO 1600, f/2.8.

Post-processing included curves adjustments, colour balancing, and multiple iterations of layering, masking & blending to smooth out the head of the comet a little better.

Note the comet’s tail pointing downward as per the images’ orientation; eastward away from the sun’s direction.

The image on the left is a composite of 5 1-minute exposures and is stacked on the background stars.  The image on the right is a composite of 8 1-minute exposures stacked on the head of the comet, hence the star trailing, indicating the comet’s direction.  North is to the left in both images.

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C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, David Tym
C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, David Tym

Observing Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

With -15° degree weather astrophotography in January is not for the faint of heart! However, with so few clear nights these past few months it’s worth braving the elements for a personal encounter with comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). Lovejoy is now naked eye visible but its very faint and hard to spot unless you know exactly where to look. From my somewhat light polluted skies in Dundas the comet can be seen as a tiny, dim dot right of Orion. With a telescope the view improves and using my 8″ scope Lovejoy can be seen as a fuzzy patch but unmistakable comet. With the wonders of auto-guiding, digital photography, and stacking software more detail can be explored through the photons captured by CCD sensor.
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C/2014 Q2
C/2014 Q2

Comet Lovejoy Naked Eye

Last night finally gave some decent skies, so I ventured out into my backyard on the West Mountain to take a peek at Comet Lovejoy(even though it was -15°). The comet is now visible to the naked eye even from moderately light polluted skies, and I imagine from a dark sky site it would look fantastic. The comet is moving higher and higher into the sky, and already has dropped below magnitude +5. Through my 10″ Dobsonian, the comet was certainly a treat. The coma is quite large and fades nicely into the background sky, while the nucleus is small, stellar and bright. A hint of a tail can even be seen running east from the nucleus (although it could just be averted imagination – more observations are needed to be sure). The picture below is an inverted sketch I made of Lovejoy last night – mainly from memory and a very rough initial sketch as I wasn’t willing to sit at the eyepiece for 45 minutes drawing at that temperature. I encourage anyone who can to go outside and take a peek at the comet through their scopes and binos, and at very least try and find it with the naked eye – here is a link to Sky and Telescope giving locations and descriptions!
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Astronomical Observations for the Unaided Eye
Astronomical Observations for the Unaided Eye

General Meeting for February 13, 2015 @ 7:30pm

Astronomical Observations for the Unaided Eye

In a world of ever larger and more expensive telescopes, amateur astronomers often pass over the wonder above them that can only be seen with the most complex yet readily available optical instrument of them all – the unaided eye. From comets to crepuscular rays and from the northern lights to noctilucent clouds, there is an entire universe waiting, both literally and figuratively before your eyes.

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M52 and the Bubble Nebula Area, Bob Christmas
M52 and the Bubble Nebula Area, Bob Christmas

January Event Horizon Newsletter

The latest issue of our club’s Event Horizon newsletter is now available.

In this issue you’ll find…

  • The Sky This Month
  • The 2015 HAA Celestial Events Calendar
  • Bernie Venasse’s 2014 Highlights
  • B.A.S.E.F. and H.A.A. 2014 Year in Review
  • Plus Much More!

Download your copy from the newsletters section.

Photo credit: M52 and the Bubble Nebula Area by Bob Christmas.

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, Ann Tekatch
Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, Ann Tekatch

Comet Lovejoy

Last observation of 2014: Comet Lovejoy in Lepus. Comet appeared as a circular smudge in 7×50 binocs. No tail was visible. Comet is dimmer than magnitude 4.9

Happy New Year!