Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lessons Of Sandy

The what is more important than the where.
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Notice in this picture what is standing and what is not standing. Don't build your structure with wood. Wood sucks.
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Consider where stormwater will flow before you set up a US Aid tent. If you can't build on high ground, then at least pitch your tent over a boat.
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If you're going to build next to a river, don't cry when this happens.

Posted by Dave

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quarter Moon Over Arizona

A nice quarter-moon last night, casting shadows and demanding attention.
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Still high in the sky, shots are fairly crisp. Above is a 1/30-second shot at ISO 100 using a Celestron 6" refractor as a prime-focus lens for my Nikon D5100 DSLR.
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As the moon sinks, it gets oranger and sharp focus is impossible. This is a 1/5-second shot.

Posted by Dave

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Orion Nebula, Autoguided

Playing here with a Celestron autoguider. I've got a lot to learn, but this shot is already better than any unguided pic I've done. I use a piggybacked Orion 80mm scope to guide a Celestron C6R, which I use as a prime-focus lens for a Nikon D5100.
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This is a 6-minute shot of the Orion Nebula. ISO is 800. The only thing I did to this photo is knock down the resolution to make a more manageable file size. I used no noise reduction or sharpening. Not bad, eh?

Posted by Dave

Pocket Snappy Sunset

Clouds change. Fast. If they changed slowly, you could easily predict breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. I was checking the perimeter with Charlie, our director of security, when this scene suddenly presented itself. My camera was set up for an astro shoot. There was no time to lose. I grabbed Mrs. UC's pocket camera, which she keeps charged and ready.
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The automatic settings on cameras take lousy sunset pics. They don't capture the rich colors unless you change the exposure compensation. I didn't have time to try different settings, so I guessed and set these at -0.7. Did you know that you can change the exposure compensation on your bonehead cell phone camera? Even in video mode.
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The only tough part is holding the camera steady. When you go in the negative numbers, the camera compensates by increasing the shutter time. Anything past -1.0 requires a tripod.

Posted by Dave

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

M31 and NGC869

I used a little bit bigger scope last night, the Celestron C6R refractor. Would you like to know what I think of the C6R? Celestron has good optics, but everything else about their scopes is crap. They force you to buy an undersized, totally inadequate mount in order to get the C6R. That's the first thing I tossed. I replaced it with an Orion Atlas Mount. The Orion mount is heavy--even with the scope and counterweights off, it's all I can do to carry the mount to the astroslab. I have to reassemble everything outside. (Not hard.) The scope itself? Optics good, but the focuser is Chinese crap, useless for focusing. I replaced the Celestron focuser with a Starlight Instruments FeatherTouch focuser, the best goddam focuser money can buy. So now my C6R is a delight to use.
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Andromeda Galaxy, M31, up closer than last post. More detail. I'm really pushing a 30-second exposure with an ISO of 6400. A bit of noise reduction makes a pretty fair shot. Blue colorcast on the brighter stars.
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NGC869, an open cluster in Perseus. 30-seconds at ISO 6400. Mrs. UC took out the blue colorcast to the stars that is pronounced in the Andromeda pic above. I've already forgotten how she did it. Next time I'll write it down.

Posted by Dave

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Astrophotography With Orion's 80mm Refractor

Last night I woke up about 1 a.m. (Not uncommon for me.) The stars were poppin', the temperature was just right, and winds were calm.

Orion's 80mm f/7.5 ED refractor is a nice scope. Great optics and a smooth Crayford focuser. Put it on an Orion Sirius EQ-G equatorial mount for rock-solid tracking, add Nikon's D5100 DSLR, and you can talk star clusters and nebulas and galaxies all night long.
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This is the spectacular Orion Nebula. ISO 6400 with some noise reduction in Capture NX2. Of course it's being photo-bombed by a satellite.
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M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. The brightest galaxy in our skies. ISO 3200 with noise reduction.
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M76 in Perseus, the "Little Dumbbell", "Barbell", or "Cork" planetary nebula. It's a bit right and low of center. ISO 6400
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M35 in Gemini, an open cluster. Considered to be the most beautiful open cluster. ISO 6400
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M1, the Crab Nebula, in Taurus. I couldn't find it in my scope; only after I loaded these pics onto my computer could I see it, low and right of center. Small and dim, it is. ISO 6400

Posted by Dave

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Scenes From My Neighborhood

Stuff I looked at yesterday.
















A hill to the east.
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Clouds to the south.
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Clouds directly above.
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Sunburst? Sunshower?
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To the west, a neighbor's wind generator.
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Be vewy, vewy quiet.

Posted by Dave

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It Is Balloon!

Albuquerque, New Mexico, Balloon Fiesta, October 7, 2012. Let the records show we were there. You are all digital witnesses.
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 From the cheap seats, across the freeway, parked alongside the road next to a car dealer. Saturday, the day before, we had paid tickets and were there at 3:15 am--damn wind was too gusty, though. We didn't feel like throwing our money away twice on the chance that the balloons might go up, so we just pulled over to take these pictures. We were actually on our way to Taos and didn't think the Mass Ascension would happen.
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 In my best Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, "Get to the choppah!" (From the movie Predator.)
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Posted by Dave.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rio Grande Nature Center

This is the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were nosing around the area and saw a sign beckoning us to investigate. The lovely and talented Mrs. UC took all these photos.
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How could anyone resist a front entrance like this?
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Turtles out sunning themselves.
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Cattails.
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The area all around the nature center looked like this. Pretty, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by Dave

Petroglyph National Monument

These pictures were taken in the Boca Negra Canyon part of Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Here I am, your friendly neighborhood Underground Carpenter. Photo by Mrs. UC.



The above picture is a cave-mom about to beat her son with a stick because he is standing on the family chicken. Or something.
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Picture of The Predator, just before Arnold Schwartzeneggar took him out by dropping a log on him. Arnold was right, this Predator is "one ugly motherfucker."
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Playing here. I stopped the camera down to f22 to get the depth-of-field necessary to get everything in focus.
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Steps everywhere made it easy to get to prime photo spots. There are something like 20,000 images here in Boca Negra Canyon.
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Salad tongs.
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Posted by Dave.