Phil's blog

QHY9 vs Astro40D

Any addicted astrophotographer is always considering new equipment, and also debating the merits of several options. One of the most common questions for beginners is about the difference between digital SLRs and astronomical CCD cameras. I love a good experiment so below is my answer.

Both these images were taken with a Takahashi Epsilon 160 astrograph (530mm f3.3). Total exposure time for both images is 115 minutes (almost two hours). The comparison is between a CentralDS cooling modified and spectrum enhanced Canon 40D and a QHY9 astronomical CCD camera.

Marlay Point Overnight Sailing Race 2011

More photos in the Gallery.

This was the second time I've been in the Marlay Point Overnight Race, sailing through the night from Marlay Point on Lake Wellington in Victoria's Gippsland Lakes to Paynesville.

Airglow and other thoughts on dark sky sites

The sky at night is not black. Dark yes, but certainly not black. I now have enough data from dark sky sites in central and western Victoria and the Ice In Space Astro Camp at Lostock in NSW to offer some comments on what makes the sky bright and how far you have to travel to get a 'dark sky'.


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Cloud Forecasts for Australian Astronomers

Cloud Forecast Loop

Clouds wouldn't be so bad for astronomers, if they weren't so hard to forecast. But with new high resolution model output now available from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, things are looking up a little at least. The animation above is not a real satellite picture, but rather a 'synthetic satellite loop' - a forecast of what the weather model thought the clouds would look like over a 48 hour period.

Southern Skies Exhibition at Michaels Camera Store

Michaels Camera Store in Melbourne are hosting an exhibition of astrophotography images taken by members of the Astronomical Society of Victoria.

The exhibition will be on in the upstairs gallery at Michaels Camera Store, corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets in Melbourne. Opening night is Friday 3rd September from 5:30-7:30pm. The exhibition will then run until Thursday 30th September during store hours, Mon-Thu 9-6pm, Fri 9-9pm, Sat 9-5pm and Sun 11-5pm.

The 'Zero Carbon Australia' Plan

Cross posted from The Oil Drum

I thought I would share the key graphics and information from the synopsis report of the Zero Carbon Australia plan by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE). Note also the launch of the full report in Melbourne on 14th July.

Energy independence. This time for sure.

Jon Stewart of 'The Daily Show': The last eight US presidents have gone on television and promised to move America towards an energy-independent future.

Funny, but sad.

ASV Messier Star Party - March 13th 2010

Every March, the Astronomical Society of Victoria hosts a 'Messier Star Party' at its Leon Mow Dark Sky Site near Heathcote, to celebrate and observe the famous catalogue of deep sky objects that Charles Messier originally recorded as nuisance objects that confused him in his hunt for comets in 18th century Paris.

If you've never heard of a 'Star Party' before, this video will give you a better idea, music and all :-). I recommend enjoying it in full screen glory via philhart.smugmug.com.

Bioluminescence in the Gippsland Lakes

These pictures of bioluminescence in the Gippsland Lakes in my gallery have proven quite popular, so it seems time to provide a story to accompany them. But this is not a short story, rather a convoluted one of fires and floods, of microscopic algae and the inspiring, remarkable and surprising beauty of nature.

Geminid Meteor Shower

At the end of a very enjoyable three days of astrophotography with a several other astronomers at the Leon Mow Dark Sky Site in Victoria (Australia), I caught a nice display of Geminid meteors. Over two or three hours, while also tending to cameras and telescopes, I spotted about 44 Geminid meteors as well as a number of other 'sporadics'. My camera also caught quite a few.

For two hours, I kept a Canon 5D mkII ticking over at ISO3200 with 8 second exposures through a 24mm f1.4 lens wide open, all on a Vixen GP-DX equatorial mount. I stacked that against a single 2 minute exposure to capture the surrounding stars and the milky way through Orion and up to Sirius and Canis Major at the top.


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