Sunday, September 9, 2007

Starting Out




"The man on the street does not know a star in the sky"
Ralph Waldo Emerson.




I remember it like it was yesterday, got my brand new scope, set it up outside to take a look at the Moon. The Moon was big and full and in plain view, this is gonna be an easy first target for me, being it was my first night out. Pointed the scope at the Moon looked in the eyepiece and presto .... the neighbours blurry tree, what went wrong? Well after reading the instructions which is something I usually leave to last, aligning this, moving that and thinking crap maybe I should have bought a car instead, I finally got my finder scope aligned with the main scope and the Moon was in my eyepiece, and it was beautiful, and I was hooked.


After looking at the Moon for lots of hours I thought, I need to look at something else. So I checked out Skyview Cafe. Saturn was going to be low in the east at 4:00am! Got up at 3:30 went outside, set up my scope and saw what looked to be a yellow star in the east just where skyview said Saturn would be. I thought that must be Saturn, pointed the scope using my finder scope at the little yellow light, held my breath, looked in the eyepiece, I couldn't believe my eyes, it was magnificent, just like in the pictures. The telescope had brought Saturn to life, the rings looked surrealistic, and you could see 4 of Saturn's 48 confirmed moons.

That evening my wife come and got me , took me outside, pointed to the night sky and said, should be good for your scope. I'm thinking wow look at all the stars, I only wish I knew some of them. Crash course, go down to my computer, print off some star charts from Skyview Cafe go outside and find some constellations. First one Hercules. The first thing I noticed when looking for constellations is they're a lot bigger in person then when you look at them on paper.

My next goal was to find the great Hercules Globular Star Cluster, how hard could it be? it is supposed to have 100's of thousands of stars in it, well 2 hours later I'd finally found it, learned some tricks along the way, oh well the journey is the fun part, right? Usually I hate journeys, they generally suck, I want to get to where I want to go now, hate journeys, but with astronomy I've found the journey to be the best part, for me that's remarkable.

Years later, the journey's been full of blood, sweat and tears, and I mean that literally, if there is a sharp edge on a scope I'll find it. I've found 100's of items, know all the constellations, I'm thinking, how do I get this cool stuff out to others, enter astrophotography. Little did I know the journey for astrophotography would be such a sucky one. This is where the tears come in.

April 2006 is when I got my first Deep Sky Imager. Basically, you put the camera in where your eyepiece would be, plug the imager into your laptop which in turn runs the camera and stacks the individual images to produce hopefully nice pictures that make you happy. Needless to say there is a lot more to it that requires you the smart human to do, which is beyond the scope of this post, or me at this time, hey it's the journey that counts. Below are some of my first images taken followed by my most current ones.

M42 The great Orion Nebula in the constellation Orion , is a birthplace for stars, can be found just under Orion's belt. The nebula is a cloud of ionized gas created by the young forming stars.
The top image was my first image taken last year, the image below I took yesterday.




M13 the great Hercules globular star cluster is located in the Hercules constellation is about 25,000 light years distant, contains several 100,000 stars, very old globular cluster, up to 15 billion year old stars! The top picture taken April/06, bottom April/07.




M57, the Ring nebula in the constellation Lyra. The dying central star produces the colorful ionized gases that create the planetary nebula, it is about 2,300 light years distant. The top image was taken in May /06, the bottom image was taken July this year.





18 comments:

kml said...

The Orion Nebula is beautiful! You have had a most successful journey according to your images! How lucky we are you share them with us!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, I have a ways to go, but it's nice to share the journey with others.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Fascinating interest! You are indeed exploring the cosmos. Thanks for sharing your photos and text--you have made my day richer for sharing your experience.

BTW, I love books like THE MIND OF GOD by Paul Davies, and other books about the nature of life and the cosmos.

I look forward to my next visit to your blog!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Lynda, The Mind Of God looks good, I just took a peek at it on Amazon, may pick it up.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Fantabulous photos!!! Thanks for all the great links. I'm a beginner star gazer. Don't have a telescope yet but have great interest. :D

JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Glad you like the photos and links JJ!

Zawadi said...

bob your blog is prettier than mine!

Bob Johnson said...

Zawadi, I don't know about that your screen shots are very colorful,lol

Anna said...

Bob, stop and stop writing these stories lol, everytime you post more and more and what you can do with your telescope (the photos are just amazing), the more I want to own one, and my husband too. The funny thing is, yesterday I went to my library of books and pulled out 'Your Guide to the Sky' by Rick Shaffer, something I bought by mail order, brand new never been opened, and just started to read yesterday. I tend to that very often purchase book with no real interest but then somehow it comes handy later. This is where I found the flat earth society lol, and in the mean time you were writing your story probably, which is really cool. Very nice start, wish all the best with your sky explorations, may be one day we will be looking at the Bob's Star on the dark skies. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, thanks very much! glad you have that book, it's an excellent starter book and will get you going.

Scruffyhippo said...

Brilliant photo's bob :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter!

bob said...

very very cool.

this bob is outta this world.

bob on!

Bob Johnson said...

As one Bob to another Bob I thank you.

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zunnur said...

I'm glad that you thought of "how to get this cool stuff out to others". Those are great pictures and information.

He was right, "The man on the street does not know a star in the sky", too much of knowledge hidden up there.
Thanks for sharing :-)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Zunnur.

Two Dishes said...

I have been passive these 43 years but finally busted out with , ta da, an entry level telescope. Thanks for being here to lead the way.

I am curious about how you found the micrometeorites in your backyard pictured on Flickr. I will look around on the blog here for it...