From our Facebook page, the Hubble team with NASA and ESA are sponsoring a contest to find some of the hidden treasures in the vast stored archive of the Hubble images collected over the past 22 years. It actually consists of 2 parts. First is to find things that hasn't been found by conventional processing or the original science team (they may have been looking for other things). The second part is to use some free tools that have been made available to process images and submit them. You can work on one or the other task.
What I found interesting is that a professional tool (FITS Liberator) produced by PhotoShop for the Hubble team has been made into open source (free) for participants to use. It's already a powerful and useful package, but making it open-source, many programmers can contribute to make it even better. And the beauty is that you can use it without having to purchase PS. Now you can have a powerful tool designed specifically for astro-photography for processing your own images.
Prior to the contest, there were amateurs who scoured the archives looking for interesting things and making significant discoveries (like comets, supernova, galaxy collisions, etc) that hadn't been seen or recognized by the original science team. But there are huge quantities of images which haven't been looked at. This contest gives regular amateurs like you and me a better starting point for us to get into the "game" (more tools, info and help). Amateurs from all over the world are getting into this project - and you can too!
The main link with more info, images, software downloads and more can be found here.
Once again a number of the HAA members headed out to Binbrook to take advantage of the clear nights and collect more images of the Moon-Venus-Jupiter conjunction. On Monday night, the Moon had moved enough in its orbit that it was now near Venus rather than Jupiter as it had been the night before. Hopefully some of them will share their photos on this blog. I'm sure some will be appearing in the April edition of the EH newsletter.
My photo of the Moon and Jupiter setting below the Skyway was shown on CHCH news during the day on Monday so this inspired me to try again that night. I went to various locations around town trying to find interesting backdrops to go along with the wondrous view that the conjunction offered.
Below are links to some of the images I collected. It was fun running from location to location with nothing more than a camera. No telescopes, big tripods or other associated gear to haul around. Just the eyes and camera were all that was needed to enjoy this site (as is often the case for many night sky apparitions. All these images were taken under skies with lots of city lights, yet it was still something easy to see and enjoy.
Click on images to enlarge them.
Some of the HAA members ventured out to Binbrook Sunday night to enjoy the conjunction of the crescent Moon along with Jupiter and Venus. I wasn't able to join them, needing to run out to Burlington and then get home quickly. But that didn't stop me from taking my camera along and capturing some shots on my trip. It was very windy and quite cool, but with a camera tripod, I was able to set up quickly and take these images. You don't need fancy gear to enjoy this beautiful viewing opportunity. Just your eyes are enough. But you can also use just about any camera to record this view so you can enjoy it over and over.
Tonight (Monday 26 March) is another opportunity to see this conjunction. The forecast is calling for clear skies. Tonight the Moon will be closer to Venus with Jupiter just below. Head out just after sunset and look West - you can miss these bright objects.
Upcoming transit of the Space Station across the disk of the Sun
About 1:20 PM on Monday afternoon.
If you have a PST or a solar filter, or even some welder's glass, you
can use the same precautions as for an eclipse to see the silhouette of he Space Station against the disk of the sun.
The map shows the ground track of the event, for the center of the shadow path.
At a distance of 350 km, and about a quarter degree, you will see some of it
even if you are as much as 3 km off track.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the orbital predictions for the ISS are
not very accurate. Wish we could do more.
Crossing the disk of the moon, of course, is a naked-eye event you don't need any
In honour of this month's speaker's topic (March Madness) and being related to the Messier Marathon which is attempted by many amateur astronomers, here's an interesting link. March/April is considered to be the most favourable time to attempt to view all 110 Messier objects in a single evening. Considering the cool weather for our latitude and the poor viewing conditions we've had over these past many months, the odds appear to be against us to having a good night to attempt this.
However, you can "do" the marathon from the comfort of your own home on Sun April 1, 2012. The Virtual Telescope in conjunction with GAM(Global Astronomy Month) and Astronomers Without Borders, is holding a Messier Marathon Night. They will use various remote, robotic telescopes to attempt to view all 110 Messier objects in a single night.
Messier Marathon Online
A small team of HAA'rs visited a Cub pack near the north end of Oakville on Leap Day (Feb 29) to teach astronomy to about 25 enthusiastic kids. This is the second time in recent history that the HAA brought astronomy to a group of cubs (also did a camp in Jan) in the Oakville area.
A partial group shot of the cubs we taught astronomy to.
John has the kids enraptured.
Jim passing around meteorites.
The kids were really good and we all enjoyed ourselves. They had lots of questions and it was clear they learned a lot. A bright and fun bunch.
Don covering the basics of constellations and planets.
Our thanks go to their leaders Latif and Jasmine for contacting us and asking for our participation.
Larger/higher resolution photos available on our Facebook page:
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