Archive for category: Astronomy

Nifty telescope idea…

June 7, 2015 | Astronomy, Telescopes | By: Mark VandeWettering

Since I stopped actively working on building telescopes, there have been numerous bits of technology that are now widely and cheaply available, and that can be used to implement new, interesting functionality. In particular I hadn’t considered that the same kind of sensors which are used to control quadcopters could be used to determine the […]

Dusting off old Ronchi Testing Code…

June 7, 2015 | Astronomy, Telescopes | By: Mark VandeWettering

At the Chabot Telescope Maker’s workshop, we make a lot of use of the Ronchi test. It’s great for figuring out gross defects and problems with your mirror. Back in the day, I wrote a simple program to generate Ronchi patterns for a given parabolic mirror. Here are six Ronchi patterns generated by my code […]

Gert’s 2015 Jupiter Campaign

June 6, 2015 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

I forgot to mention my chat with Gert, another telescope making regular up at the Chabot Telescope Maker’s Workshop. He’s a skilled astrophotographer and all around interesting guy, and has embarked on a campaign to do some high quality imaging of Jupiter. You can see some of his results here. Pretty nifty stuff. I copied […]

StarStack… Astrophotography with Cell Phones?

April 13, 2015 | Amateur Science, Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Tom pointed me at this awesome article about an experiment run as part of the BBC programming Stargazing Live. Basically, they asked their viewers to go outside with their cell phones and take a picture of the night sky with their cell phones and upload the (almost entirely black) images to a website. They then […]

The Big Sunspot, with a sense of perspective…

October 29, 2014 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Earlier this week, I snapped a couple of iPhone photos of the partial solar eclipse with my iPhone, through coworker Eric’s mighty spiffy little Questar, equipped with a filter. Despite the glare, I was shocked at how much detail was actually available, especially for sunspot group 2192, which has been busy kicking off solar flares […]

Rings ‘n things…

June 25, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Last night, I took the scope out again and tried to get a few quick images of Saturn. My focus was really soft, but this was what I came up with after processing the video with Registax. It’s actually pretty comparable to the level of detail that I could see through the Meade ETX 90 […]

First astrophotography with the Microsoft Cinema HD webcam…

June 24, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had gotten a Microsoft Cinema HD webcam to convert for use in astrophotography. Today, I got my Meade ETX-90 out, and decided to give it a test on the daytime moon. Sadly, my mount’s tracking capabilities seem to be pretty glitchy: the autostar seems to be […]

Adapting a webcam for telescope use…

June 16, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been a bit more intrigued by one of my old interests: telescopes and astrophotography. During the transit of Venus, I hooked up an old black and white video camera, and tried to take some snapshots, but wasn’t really pleased with the results. So, I decided to try to adapt […]

Still from a video snap of the Venus Transit

June 6, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

I did try to take some video of the transit, but the higher magnification created by the rather small imager in the video camera, combined with too much AGC and a lot of wind buffeting didn’t make for very interesting imagery compared to the surprisingly excellent iphone snaps I had before. But just to give […]

iPhone photos of the Venus transit…

June 6, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Yesterday, I setup my Meade ETX-90 outside with a solar filter in the courtyard between buildings at work so that my coworkers could have a glimpse of this rather rare astronomical event. I had a pretty steady stream of people coming out to have a peek throughout the day. I managed to shoot some video […]

No Saturn, but how ’bout the moon?

June 3, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

I thought I’d give my video camera a test. I considered Saturn, but by the time I got outside the weather was getting colder and blustery, and I wasn’t feeling very good, so I just managed to snap some quick video of the moon. The wind was buffeting the telescope, and I was impatient, but […]

Prepping for the upcoming transit of Venus…

June 2, 2012 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog, but I’m trying to get some projects going. This week marks a rather rare event: the Tuesday (for us in North America) transit of Venus across the front of the sun. According to this transit calculator, the transit will occur between 3:06 and 9:47 (well after sunset). Back […]

Photos from the eclipse…

May 21, 2012 | Amateur Science, Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Okay, these are the best of the photos that I snapped during yesterdays annular solar eclipse (well, it was really only a partial eclipse here). We had just left the Maker Faire, and were in the parking lot of Oracle on 10 Twin Dolphin Drive in Redwood City, CA. I took out my 4″ Meade […]

The Lunar Eclipse…

December 10, 2011 | Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Okay, I did wake up for the lunar eclipse this morning. At 5:30 my alarm went off. I pulled on some clothes, wandered out to the front yard, and sure enough, the moon was already being devoured by the Earth’s shadow. I went back inside, and got my old pair of tripod-mounted aircraft spotting binoculars, […]

Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse

December 6, 2011 | Amateur Science, Astronomy | By: Mark VandeWettering

Yep, there is an upcoming total lunar eclipse this Saturday, on the morning of Dec 10. It will be the last total lunar eclipse visible from San Francisco until April of 2014, so I think I’ll be trying to get up and see if I can view it and take some snapshots. From San Francisco, […]