Jun 122016

Questar makes a really good wedge and pier assembly, but 1) It’s over $1600, and 2) I already have an AstroTrac wedge and pier.

So, with a piece of 1/4″ thick 6061 aluminum and a little CNC mill work, the Questar and the AstroTrac are now joined.

Here’s the basic plate:

The right portion attaches to the AstroTrac wedge, and the left to the base of the Questar.

This little loop is for the AstroTrac’s polar finder scope. The three small holes will have 1/8″ diameter neodymium magnets epoxied into them for securing the polar finder.

Here it is completed and all together:

And a better view of the plate from underneath:

The scope’s center of gravity is almost perfectly over the wedge, and the polar finder is invaluable for setting up the Questar.

 Posted by at 1:25 am
Jun 222015

This was a relatively faint aurora. Shows up well in photos, but hardly visible to the naked eye. Taken from Mount Pack Monadnock, New Hampshire. That’s the moon setting on the left, and lights from Manchester on the right.

 Posted by at 10:41 am
Nov 302011

The elusive green flash captured in 2006 from Key West.

About 5 Minutes Out

As the sun gets low in the sky, its light is refracted through a thicker and thicker section of the atmosphere. Eventually, the atmosphere not only refracts the light but begins to disperse it. Redder colors towards the horizon, and greener near the sun’s top.

As the last bit of sun vanishes below the horizon, there is a fraction of a second when only the green portion is left.

The Green Flash

For many years, the Green Flash was only observed visually and was thought to be a complimentary color after-image on the retina caused by the disappearance of the bright red sun below the horizon. Only after the invention of color photography was the Green Flash captured on film and its true nature understood.

 Posted by at 3:53 am
Nov 232011

This shot was taken in central Nevada while on vacation. it is REALLY dark there – to get this detail in a 2-minute exposure. The foreground is illuminated by starlight, and Wendover Utah, about 30 miles away.

Southern Milky Way

 Posted by at 5:53 am
Jun 232011

I travelled to Dubai to cover the June 15th Total Lunar Eclipse live for SLOOH. Here is my setup on the hotel balcony.

Even though it was the wee hours of the morning, the temperature was still in the low 100’s. A nice place in general, but don’t visit there in summer. Step outside and you literally burst into flames.

Dubai Eclipse Setup

 Posted by at 2:55 pm
Jun 042010

I just got a new scanner which is able to handle medium format film, so I have started scanning in old negatives taken with my Mamiya C220 and Pentax 6×7.

These aurora were from the summer of 2004 and were taken from Miller State Park, on Pack Monadnock Mountain, New Hampshire.

May 152010

After several trips down to Florida and many launch scrubs for weather and other issues, we finally got a payoff!

This was recorded in 720p HD with a Pentax K-7 DSLR mounted on a William Optics APO Refractor.

For the full effect, make sure you watch it in 720HD mode, full screen.

Here’s the setup; mine on the right and Tom’s on the left. The big fuzzy grey thing is just a windscreen for the video microphone.

Imaging Setup for Shuttle Launch

Jul 162009

Melissa, Tom and I travelled down to Florida for the launch of STS-127 on Friday, July 10th. The launch was scheduled for the 11th, but it was scrubbed before we even headed out to the cape – there had been 11 lightning strikes near the shuttle the previous evening.

On Sunday the 12th, we tried again and this time we made it all the way to the launch viewing area before the launch was scrubbed for weather once again. The decision was made during the 45-minute hold at the T minus 9 minute point, but it was pretty clear to everyone well before that – we could see dark clouds and lightning throughout the area.

Launch Viewing Area

Monday the 13th was try number three. Once again, we got out to the launch viewing area and all looked pretty good until the end of the 45-minute hold. A thunderstorm cell just to the north was growing and we saw lightning once again just after they called the scrub.

Me (right) and Tom

Based on the forecast, NASA decided not to even try on the following day, and the day after, the 15th, was when we were scheduled to fly home. Of course, the launch went off without a hitch on the 15th! We watched it on NASA TV on our iPhones while at the airport. Our current plan is to try again for the STS-131 in March. Not only will there be less thunderstorms, but the temperature and humidity will be closer to what humans can actually survive.

Camcorder & Telescope Setup

In any case, I got a good test of my camcorder and telescope system for photographing the launch. Remember, the viewing area is seven miles from the launch pad. Here is the test footage, plus a few pelicans that were near the launch viewing area.