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  • richardmitnick 12:45 pm on April 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Astrophotography, , , Christian Sasse, , ,   

    From EarthSky: “Milky Way spins across the sky” 

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    EarthSky

    April 16, 2018
    Deborah Byrd


    This composite – centered on celestial south – is made of images taken hourly from outside the dome of the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory.

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    Composite image by Christian Sasse.

    Christian Sasse emailed EarthSky on April 11, 2018, from Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory and wrote:

    “A spectacular night at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (3.9-meter [13-foot] mirror). This composite – made of images taken every hour from 7 p.m. until midnight – shows the apparent movement of the Milky Way across the sky. See Jupiter on the left, leaving a discrete trail as it moves towards the dome until midnight. Top is location of the celestial South Pole.”


    AAO Anglo Australian Telescope near Siding Spring, New South Wales, Australia, Altitude 1,100 m (3,600 ft)

    Siding Spring Mountain with Anglo-Australian Telescope dome visible near centre of image at an altitude of 1,165 m (3,822 ft)

    As you can see, Christian has a novel approach to acquiring photographic images of star trails. His images have been featured in National Geographic and Nature. His Ph.D. in optics has helped shape his photography. You can visit him on his Facebook page, or on YouTube, or on Twitter (@sassephoto).

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    Article by Christian Sasse, originally published at his blog, The Cosmic Clock.

    The Earth rotates or spins on its axis about every 24 hours, causing an apparent movement of the stars overhead by about one-quarter of a degree per minute. If we leave a camera in a fixed position and point upwards, open the shutter in bulb mode and let the Earth rotate under the stars, we will create an image with star trails. Similarly we could take shorter exposures and superimpose (stack) the images with image processing software.

    Most images of star trails taken in the Northern Hemisphere show a pattern similar to the one below taken in Arches National Park, Utah, in spring of 2016.

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    Star trails at Arches National Park via Christian Sasse

    Bottom line: Milky Way composite image by Christian Sasse.

    Read more about Christian Sasse’s photographic process: A novel approach to star trails

    See the full article here .

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    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:37 am on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Astrophotography, , , , GALÁCTICA,   

    From IAC: “GALÁCTICA: The largest photo of the Milky Way available on the web” 

    My work for IAC would not be possible without the help of Manu Garcia.


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    IAC

    Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

    Apr. 3, 2018
    Miquel Serra-Ricart:
    mserra@iac.es.y
    922 605 750

    This FECYT-funded project of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has produced the largest panoramic view of our galaxy without using professional telescopes.

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      A digital reflex camera, a telephoto lens, and a night sky renowned worldwide for its quality and darkness. These are the ingredients of GALÁCTICA, an IAC project whose aim is to obtain a gigapan (a giant mosaic) of the Milky Way to be used for outreach. What makes it different from other similar maps of our galaxy is that this is the first time such a map has been produced without relying on the telescopes of large professional observatories.

      ‘Because of the exceptional atmospheric conditions of Teide Observatory, we were able to acquire high quality images,’ notes Doctor Miquel Serra Ricart, the project’s coordinator, as well as being Manager of the Teide Observatory and an IAC researcher. ‘We’re still analysing the final mosaic in search of small objects that we haven’t yet labelled,’ he adds.

      For a year, with a digital camera equipped with a telephoto lens, the team obtained the images that make up the final gigapan. The team has also published 50 images at high resolution of the main objects that form part of our galaxy’s fauna. Serra and his team are, ‘Very enthusiastic about the second part of the project, which take us to the dark skies of Namibia from where we shall complete GALÁCTICA.’

      Instrumentation and observing procedure

      A DSLR full-frame camera (a modified SONY A7S) equipped with a fast telephoto lens (Canon 200 mm f/1.8)was used to build up the panorama. A second camera, a modified SONY A7S (with a 400 mm f/2.8 telephoto lens) was used at the same time to make high resolution observations of 50 objects that form part of the galactic fauna catalogue.

      The two cameras mounted in tracking mode on the Open Outreach Telescope (Telescopio Abierto Divulgación, TAD).

      Open Outreach Telescope Telescopio Abierto Divulgación TAD on Mount Teide at 2,390 metres (7,840 ft), located on Tenerife, Spain.

      This robotic telescope is equipped with a Losmany Titan equatorial mount to compensate for motion caused by the Earth’s rotation and is located at Teide Observatory (Izaña, Tenerife)

      Teide Observatory in Tenerife Spain, home of two 40 cm LCO,telescopes, Altitude 2,390 m (7,840 ft)

      A total of seven months was dedicated to the work, and observations were made only on nights close to new moon. This required 50 nights’ observing, in which 186 hours were needed to produce the panoramic view and 50 hours for galactic fauna objects. The images acquired so far cover 70% of the Milky Way, from the molecular cloud complex of Orion to Antares in the constellation Scorpius. During the second half of 2018, the GALACTICA-S project, funded by FECYT, will map the remaining 30% of our galaxy.

      The GALÁCTICA project has been funded by the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT) of Spain’s Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

      The IAC Observatories form part of Spain’s network of Special Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (Infraestructuras Científicas y Técnicas Singulares, ICTS).

      See the full article here.

      Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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      The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

      The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
      The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
      The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
      The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

      Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in the municipality of Garafía on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, at an altitude of 2,396 m (7,861 ft)

      These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

      The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

      The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

      The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

      The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

      The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

      The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.


      Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, SpainGran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC

     
  • richardmitnick 12:23 pm on October 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Astrophotography, , , , , Shooting star   

    From ESA: “Shooting star” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

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    Shooting star
    05/10/2017
    Copyright K. Miskotte

    A bright fireball was spotted over the Netherlands and Belgium on 21 September at 21:00 CEST (19:00 GMT).

    It was caused by a small meteoroid, estimated to be around several centimetres, entering Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.

    The fireball was captured by a number of all-sky camera stations of the Dutch–Belgian meteor network operated by amateurs of the Dutch Meteor Society and the Meteor Section of the Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy. They use automated photographic cameras with fish-eye lenses to capture images of the night sky on clear nights.

    This remarkable image was captured by one of the stations, at Ermelo, operated by Koen Miskotte.

    It is a 1.5 minute exposure with a Canon EOS 6D DSLR and a fish-eye lens.

    The camera lens was equipped with an LCD shutter that, during the exposure, creates brief ‘breaks’ at a rate of 14 per second. These are the dark gaps in the trail making it look dashed. Because the LCD shutter rate is known, you can count the dashes and obtain the duration of the fireball: 5.3 seconds.

    The image also provides information on the deceleration of the meteoroid in the atmosphere. In this case, it entered the atmosphere at 31 km/s and had slowed to 23 km/s by the time it disappeared (because it had burnt up completely) at 53 km altitude.

    The bright star trail just below the tip of the fireball is Arcturus. The Big Dipper can be seen at right, above the treeline. The bright star near the centre of the image just left of the fireball trail is Vega.

    Read full details on this brief but fiery event via Marco Langbroek’s SatTrackCam blog.

    More information

    http://www.esa.int/ssa_neo

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 3:56 pm on May 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astrophotography, , SASSEPHOTO, See the Awesome March of the Milky Way Across the Night Sky,   

    From natgeo.com: “See the Awesome March of the Milky Way Across the Night Sky” 

    National Geographic

    National Geographics

    15 May 2017
    Nadia Drake

    A photographer captures rare views of the galaxy as it spirals over southern Australia.

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    High overhead, the Milky Way galaxy twists itself into a whirling pinwheel, its glittering stars and dense, dark clouds weaving spirals on the sky.

    At least, that’s the view photographer Christian Sasse revealed when he shared this image of the nighttime sky over southern Australia. Seen from Earth’s vantage point in one arm of the Milky Way, our galaxy appears to dive through the cosmos, its curling spine anchored to the sky by the southern celestial pole — one of the points around which the stars and all their minions appear to wander as Earth spins on its axis.

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    Time: 10 minutes
    PHOTOGRAPH BY SASSEPHOTO

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    Time: 120 minutes
    PHOTOGRAPH BY SASSEPHOTO

    Sasse made the image he shared on Twitter from a series of 30-second-long exposures, each taken 50 minutes apart, over 10 hours on April 28. He stacked those photographs using Startrails software and then edited the final composite image using Photoshop.

    “The southern sky is fascinating in so many ways,” says Sasse, who set up his gear near one of the telescopes at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales.

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    Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia

    AAO 1.2m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia

    ANU Skymapper telescope, a fully automated 1.35 m (4.4 ft) wide-angle optical telescope, at Siding Spring Observatory , near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia

    Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia

    “I remember hearing the dome roaring deeply all night whenever the telescope moved from object to object.”

    Based in Vancouver, Sasse had travelled to Australia to visit a friend. He rented a small camper van, decked out its interior with the gadgets he’d need to capture both wildlife and the glorious southern sky, and headed out to a spot where “the skies are pristine and you can be all on your own at night … often accompanied by curious kangaroos.”

    Indeed, some of the most notable treasures in the immediate cosmic neighborhood are visible primarily in the south: Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our own, the bright star grouping known as the Southern Cross, a dark blotch called the Coalsack Nebula, small satellite galaxies known as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and the glowing backbone of the Milky Way.

    “In the Northern hemisphere, I tend to look South, and in the Southern hemisphere — well, I also look South,” says Sasse, who captured those curiosities in the great looping footprint he constructed.

    Photographers often use a similar technique to create images depicting stars tracing circles around the celestial poles. Sasse initially did the same thing, stitching together roughly 1,250 images from the same night. But when he smeared the stars into circles, Sasse saw that our home galaxy had vanished, taking with it some of the most striking textures in the sky.

    So he experimented with layering images taken at different intervals (see gallery), and was astounded by the result.

    “What appeared were circular patterns with intrinsic beauty. Each feature of the Milky Way has its own distinct pattern, and details became finer the closer one moved to the pole,” Sasse says. “The Milky Way is creating this incredible pattern all the time, and the way we freeze it is the way we like it.”

    I’ve been looking at the heavens all my life, and that great, milky spiral is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before — it reminds me of a galactic mandala, a demonstration of celestial geometry, an accidental fractal, a rippling kaleidoscope of stars.

    “I have a fascination with light patterns in nature — iridescence of birds and fish, feather structure of eagles, anything that changes with small angles such as diffraction and reflection,” says Sasse, who has a doctorate in optics.

    To me, it evokes a sense of awe and appreciation for the intricate patterns hiding in the skies, and a restless yearning to throw myself onto grass still warmed by the southern sun, snuggle in for a few hours, and stare into the twinkling tapestry that twirls overhead.

    PHOTOGRAPHY BY SASSEPHOTO

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The National Geographic Society has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888. It is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, and the promotion of environmental and historical conservation.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:03 pm on April 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Astrophotography, , , ,   

    From Liverpool: “Shooting for the stars: capturing the beauty of science through astrophotography” 

    Liverpool John Moores University

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    Thor’s Helmet is a planetary nebula. Nothing to do with planets, it is actually a shell of gas being thrown off from an old star towards the end of its life cycle. Planetary nebulae are wonderfully varied in shape and colour. This image was originally obtained with the Liverpool Telescope for BBC Sky At Night.

    2-metre Liverpool Telescope at La Palma in the Canary Islands

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    Castell Alun High School captured the Messier 27 through the NSO.

    National Solar Observatory at Kitt Peak in Arizona

    One of the best planetary nebulae to observe on the NSO, it almost fills the field of view, providing a spectacular image with vast detail. The image was produced by combining observations in the blue, visual and red filters using NSO’s 3-colour image tool.

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    The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant, the expanding cloud of gas and dust from a catastrophically exploding star. Chinese astronomers witnessed this explosion in 1054 and we still see the remnant cloud now. To the human eye, it would be faint pink. Scientific instruments do not necessarily ‘see’ colours the same way as our eyes and allow astronomers to bring out details that a true colour image might not reveal.

    When thinking about the types of photographs that capture the beauty of science, a stunning landscape or an animal in its natural habitat might come to mind. But when it comes to images from telescopes, we might not immediately consider these as anything more than the collection of scientific data. Beyond their significance in helping us to discover more about our universe, the images of galaxies, planets and stars are also appreciated purely for aesthetic reasons. For many amateur and professional astrophotographers capturing the shapes and colours of the universe is just as important as capturing scientific data. In fact, most astronomical images for general viewing have been modified from their original form. An astrophotographer’s goal in this case is to bring out the best of the image – to find the art within the science.

    Robert Smith, creator of the “Iridis” image which won the Robotic Scope Special Prize at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, sums up the concept of science as art/art as science:

    “We often hear about the idea of representing scientific data in an appealing way as an expression of art, but why not look at it the other way around; ‘art as science’? Astrophotography is not just a matter of making science look pretty, it shows us that beauty actually is science. The winners of this competition were obviously selected because they were beautiful, striking or interesting, but each and every one is also an expression of astrophysical processes and could be the basis of a science seminar in their own right. It is physics that creates that beauty. Looking at the swirling gas in a nebula or the aurorae, you are literally seeing maths and physics.”

    Robert is an astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) at LJMU and captured the award-winning image from ARI’s very own Liverpool Telescope. As the world’s largest fully robotic telescope, the Liverpool Telescope is responsible for a wide range of images which, in addition to their obvious importance scientifically, are also interesting and beautiful as pieces of art in their own right.

    Astronomers were among the first to embrace photography, with the first images of the sun captured on daguerreotypes, an early photographic imaging process, in the 1840s.

    Users of the Liverpool Telescope not only include researchers at LJMU but because it is remotely operated, it is available to astronomers from around the world. Schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland also get involved in capturing astronomical images. As a part of ARI’s educational outreach programmes, the National Schools’ Observatory (NSO) makes it possible for schoolchildren to study the night sky for themselves via the Telescope. Almost 4,000 schools have already participated with students making well over 100,000 astronomical observations from the classroom. A couple examples of the photos from NSO can be found on this page, but feel free to take a look at more on the NSO website.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    How do you photograph a night sky?

    Make sure it’s a clear night and find a place as far away from light pollution as you can. With a manual camera, try setting 25 second exposure, f/2.8, ISO 1600 (you can experiment with these settings). You’ll need a tripod to keep your camera stable during the exposure. Modern smartphones can produce impressive results as well. There are free apps available to download that automatically take a series of short exposures for you and add them together to create a long night-time photo.

    If you have access to a telescope, you can hold your smartphone up to the eyepiece of the telescope and take your shot, this is known as afocal photography – where the lens takes the place of the human eye.

    There are plenty of tips for getting started in astrophotography, just do a search online and you’ll be exposed to a wealth of information.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    3

    Liverpool John Moores University is a public research university[6] in the city of Liverpool, England. It has 21,875 students, of which 18,375 are undergraduate students and 3,500 are postgraduate, making it the 33rd largest university in the UK by total student population.

    The university can trace its origins to the Liverpool Mechanics’ School of Arts, established in 1823 making it a contestant as the third-oldest university in England; this later merged to become Liverpool Polytechnic. In 1992, following an Act of Parliament the Liverpool Polytechnic became what is now Liverpool John Moores University.

    It is a member of the University Alliance, a mission group of British universities which was established in 2007.[9] and the European University Association.

     
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