Category: "Astrophotography"

Comet Holmes images

Last night was very clear, so I dragged everything out to see what Comet 17P Holmes has been up to during the last 17 days.

It has moved closer to Mirfak (Alpha Persei). It has also grown in size quite significantly, now it is about the same size as the full Moon. This has however lead to a slight reduction in brightness.

It does however now look more comet-like and less like a planetary nebula.

The photo below was taken using a 22mm lens, and gives you a rough idea of what Comet 17P Holmes (centred) looks like in the sky. A fuzzy blob.

Comet 17P Holmes

Below shows the area taken with a 55mm lens, this nicely shows the open cluster of which Mirfak is a member. This is similar to what you can expect in binoculars.

Comet 17P Holmes and Perseus

A 90mm lens is used on the image below, which has also been cropped to the area around Mirfak.

Comet 17P Holmes and Mirfak

Finally an image using my TAL 2M reflector, this gives an effective focal length of 1200mm.

Comet 17P Holmes

Higher resolution versions are available in the gallery.

Comet 17P Holmes

Well the skies have cleared at last, so I went outside for a little while to snap some pictures of 17P Holmes, which a few days ago recently brightened by a factor of a million becoming a magnitude 3 object.

Comet 17P Holmes

First up, the view through the telescope. This was taken with the camera at prime focus of my TAL 2M reflector (effective focal length 1200mm) for 10 seconds at ISO 1600.

Comet 17P Holmes, Andromedia Galaxy, Pleiades and the Moon

This was taken with the 18mm lens for 30 seconds at ISO 800. The Moon is in the lower-right, the Pleiades slightly to the right and above, Perseus and 17P Holmes centred, with the Andromeda Galaxy being the faint smudgy looking star at the very top right, although difficult to see in this scaled down image.

Perseus and Comet 17P Holmes

This was taken with the 55mm lens for 30 seconds at ISO 800, by this time the clouds were already starting to roll in. The original resolution area around the comet is included in the bottom right of the image.

The angular size of this comet is absolutely huge, by my rough estimates it's somewhere between a 3rd and a 5th the diametre of the full Moon. It's 1.6 times further away than the Sun is, and even at that distance it makes planets look tiny. This is one major outburst.

Below is an image of Saturn, 17P Holmes and the Moon, these were all taken at prime focus of my reflector, this really gives you a sense of scale. This features a 30 second exposure of 17P Holmes set at ISO 1600, to try and bring out the maximum extent of the comet.

Saturn, Comet 17P Holmes and the Moon to scale

High resolution versions are available on my gallery.

International Space Station and Endeavour video

So here's the video I promised a few days ago. This was cut down from about 3 minutes of footage taken with my Toucam Pro II webcam at prime focus of my 150mm reflector (1200mm focal length).

Video: ISS and STS118

From around 7000 frames, just a few dozen actually had the space station and the shuttle in. Attempting to move a telescope of that size accurately by hand is no small task.

The star at the beginning of the footage is Alkaid / Eta Ursae Majoris. I knew the space station would pass near to this star so this was my assurance that I would at least get some footage of the station if I was unable to point the telescope at the station. The first image in my previous post is from this section of the video.

This video has been slowed down by half compared to the original to give you at least some chance of seeing it. Brightness was set by using Jupiter and I guessed the exposure at 1/1000 of a second, which I think work fairly well, although it think the brightness could of done with being a tiny bit lower.

International Space Station and Endeavour through the telescope

Now this makes a change from my other photos of the Space Station and Space Shuttle.

I hooked my Toucam Pro II webcam to my 6 inch TAL 2M reflector (at prime focus) to take these. By my reckoning the middle two pictures here are at a distance of around 400km, the first and last probably closer to 700-800km.

ISS and STS118 @ 20070811204300 from Yeovil, UKISS and STS118 @ 20070811204354 from Yeovil, UKISS and STS118 @ 20070811204356 from Yeovil, UKISS and STS118 @ 20070811204416 from Yeovil, UK

You can see the Shuttle quite well on the first three images you can make out the black engine area towards one side of the station.

In a future post I'll blow one of the images up and we can see if we can point out the individual modules of the station, I can see three or four in the last image quite well. I've also got the video sat here, so you can see what I had to work with. Yes hand guiding the telescope to keep up with the thing is rather difficult.

Update: Here's the video.

Space Shuttle and International Space Station together

Looks like the Space Shuttle had already docked a few hours before it was possible to image them together directly (annoying) this evening (10th).

However I've taken last nights images (9th of August), and merged the two together.

International Space Station and the Space Shuttle STS 118 together

You'll notice how much the Shuttle's orbit was slightly off compared to that of the ISS.

These two photos are seperated by about 5 minutes, and as such the stars are all doubled up. The Milky Way is quite visible and so is the North American nebula.

I should of dragged the telescope out and mounted the camera on it and taken a single long exposure. Oh well maybe next time.

Space Station and Space Shuttle alert

For those in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and France, etc. The ISS and the Space Shuttle are currently visible in the evening.

The ISS will pass over the UK and Ireland tonight at around 22:30 (BST), the Shuttle a few minutes earlier at around 22:20, in both cases they'll take 3 or 4 minutes to cross the sky. They'll be moving west to east. If you miss it tonight they'll (assuming the Shuttle hasn't landed) be visible for the next couple of weeks.

To get the exact times for your location head over to Heavens Above.

I took a couple of images of the Space Station yesterday (the Shuttle hadn't launched then). Hopefully I'll get the Shuttle tonight, and hopefully the night after they'll be a lot closer, which will really make a good picture (weather permitting).

International Space Station

Getting pretty bright, around magnitude -2.2, about the same as the planet Jupiter.

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