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Showing posts from January, 2014

Prime Time for New Equipment - Paramount ME II and AG Optical Newtonian

After months of waiting for equipment, parts, and exchanging a couple parts... Everything is finally together and working! I do have to tweak collimation and dial in polar alignment a bit, but for all intents and purposes everything is operational. See the previous post for the first light image (the supernova in M82).

Mount: Paramount ME II by Software Bisque
Telescope: AG Optical 10" Newtonian Astrograph
Guider: Takahashi FS-60C Doublet Apochromatic with SBIG ST-i camera

Light from M82's Supernova Finds GMARS

You've probably heard about the supernova in M82 by now. Seeing supernovae from Earth is relatively common. Each instance offers an opportunity for astronomers to learn more about them, refine their calculations and calibrate their instruments. Supernovae of the type "Ia" are especially important and useful because they occur when a star reaches a particular mass, regardless of where in the universe they occur. They act as a "standard candle" allowing astronomers to accurately measure stellar and galactic distances.

When the SN is close (in astronomical terms) it makes gathering that data and refining those calculations a bit easier. At a mere 11.4 million light years, M82 is our neighbor, maybe just 3 or 4 houses down the street.

Here's a one-shot-color image of the M82 supernova from the early morning hours (local time) of 1/26.

The supernova has now been designated as SN2014J and confirmed to be of Type Ia, which means it's an exploding white dwarf.

Not Astro, but Still Cool

Here's a video compilation of aerial views I took using a DJI Phantom and GoPro camera:

It includes views over parts of Ontario, Upland, Landers, and southern California mountains.

Southland Astronomy in Winter. What is There to Do?

Plenty! Winter often sees a slow down in amateur astronomy activity due to cold-ish evening temperatures, the lack of an eye-popping Milky Way overhead (there's only an "Oh, I think I see it." Milky Way overhead during Winter), and the flurry of activity from non-astronomy-related happenings like the holidays, starting the new year, and getting back to reality.

But, it's doesn't have to be that way, and the RAS is seeing to it that it's not!

January 31st through February 2nd: The RAS is having a star party at the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort in Borrego Springs. This is the same place Nightfall was held last November. We enjoyed the newly remodeled accommodations so much that we decided we need to go back... soon! This is in addition to the regular monthly star party at GMARS, so take your pick!

More info:

February 28 through March 2nd: The RAS will also be hosting a FREE Imaging Star Party at GMARS. GMARS has great fa…

Supernova in Nearby Galaxy, M82

Check it out! A supernova this close is relatively rare. And by close, a mere 12 million light years!