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Friday, September 29, 2006

Slumbering 60

The 60" (1.5-meter) Mount Lemmon Survey Telescope awaits another night, enveloped in the glow of the red lights inside its dome. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/5.6, ISO 100

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tonight's Mt. Lemmon Sunset

Rotating the dome to the northwest gave me this view through the open slit of tonight's sunset. Thicker clouds and continuing smoke didn't bode well for a good night of surveying for Near Earth Asteroids. Canon 20D - 1/60th, 28mm @ f/11, ISO 100

Sunset from Mt. Lemmon

Some clouds on the western horizon added some interest to the sunset. The major wildfires in California made the sky hazy and red for Wednesday's sunset. Canon 20D 300mm @ f/13, ISO 800

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

60" with an Iridium Flare

Iridium 30 shines at a peak of -2 magnitude high outside the slit of the 60" on Mt. Lemmon just before the start of the night's observing.
Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 27mm @ f/4, ISO 800

Star Trails over an X-Ray dome

After taking a long break, here's a shot I got last week of the Schmidt dome using the simplest technique of astrophotography. Set the camera on a tripod, point it at something interesting and open the shutter. When I started this exposure, Orion was rising in the east (Seen to the upper right) and Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, is seen as the bright line at lower right. As the dome rotated, the open shutter was positioned at times so the camera could "look in", giving that slightly X-ray appearance.
Canon 20D - 59 minutes, 20mm @ f/4.5, ISO 400

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Red Light District

One of the day crew leaves the Bigelow Station early in the evening after stopping by to get the heat in the dorm turned back on. The nights on top of the Catalinas are starting to get chilly again as Autumn begins. The brake lights on his truck illuminate the domes as he slowly heads down the driveway and out the gate. Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 800

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mt. Bigelow Domes

A view almost directly north at the Mt. Bigelow Station. The domes are illuminated by the lights of Tucson 6000 feet below and an unidentified satellite slices through the sky over the Schmidt dome.

The 61" was busy observing variable stars while the Schmidt continued its yeoman service discovering Near Earth Asteroids. In just this week, the Schmidt discovered about 20 new NEOs, 2 new comets and an object that very well may be the Apollo 10 Lunar Module "Snoopy". Further study will be needed before we will know if it is in fact Snoopy. (Snoopy is also the only Lunar Module to fly in space that is still intact. All the others have either crashed onto the moon's surface or burned up in Earth's atmosphere.)

A great start to the 2006 - 2007 observing season!

Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 800

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

John Brown, the Abolitionist?

This image is an ambrotype, which was a photographic process that became popular around 1850. It was much less expensive than the daguerreotype and very quickly replaced it. With this process, the image was made in the camera on a glass plate and then partially developed. When the glass negative is placed against a dark background it appears to be a positive, due to the way light reflects off of the silver salts.

Close inspection of ambrotypes reveal that they are different in appearance than more modern processes, but they don't have that magical quality of a daguerreotype.

The person I purchased this image from stated that the person he had bought it from thought it is an early image of John Brown, the famous abolitionist. There is no evidence that this is true, but I have closely examined known images of John Brown, taken later in his life, and there is a very striking similarity of his features and this ambrotype.

I'd be very interested in hearing from people who are more familiar with John Brown and his images and their thoughts about this image.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

June Morning Dawn

While going through my archives for images to be used in our gallery on our survey's website, I came across this image of the 60" on Mt. Lemmon. It is from an animation series that was taken just before dawn in late June. An early morning flight is seen streaking eastward behind the dome, the "Seven Sisters" are rising in the east and the dome is illuminated by the moon. Canon 20D, 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 400

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Aircraft too!

We are lucky in that very very few aircraft foul our survey images. Considering how wide the field of view is on the Schmidt, that is pretty surprising. The trail here is clearly an aircraft flying above the Santa Catalinas. The red flashing beacon leaving a trail of dots along its path in the image.
Canon 20D -30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 200

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Iridium Flash

The antenna arrays on the commercial Iridium satellites reflect sunlight in such a concentrated beam, that they can momentarily be the brightest objects in the sky next to the Sun and the Moon. About 20 minutes after the previous image of the Lacrosse 5 satellite passage posted yesterday, Iridium 45 passed overhead and the flash of light reached -6 magnitude as seen from Mt. Bigelow.Canon 20D - 30 seconds, 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 200

Friday, September 01, 2006

Eye in the Sky

As the sun set over Tucson, man-made satellites silently passed overhead, as they do almost everywhere on Earth. Many can be seen just after sunset or just before sunrise every day. The bright one visible as the nearly verticle line in this image is a U. S. military spy satellite called "Lacrosse 5". This satellite was heading south in its orbit. Another, unidentified satellite can be seen heading to the north east, as a faint line soming out of the top of the Schmidt dome. The crescent moon illuminates the scene. Canon 20D - 20mm @ f/1.8, ISO 200