Archive for the Astronomy Category

Hey, I’m now at

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophotography, Book Reviews, Observing Logs, Online Course Reviews, Podcast, Reviews, Sketches, Telescopes, Tips on February 28, 2012 by geminijk

Please bookmark my main site for my blog. Maybe I’ll be back to WordPress, but ONLY if my blog grows to a point that I get a dedicated hosting service. Until that time, please remember to head to

Thanks, see you there!

John Kramer


At The Eyepiece 09/09 by At The Eyepiece | Blog Talk Radio

Posted in Astronomy, Observing Logs, Podcast, Telescopes, Tips with tags , , , , , on September 10, 2011 by geminijk

At The Eyepiece 09/09 by At The Eyepiece | Blog Talk Radio.

Listen to the latest At The Eyepiece episode. I discussed my thoughts on outreach, the importance of visual observing, the benefits of outreach with video, and the need to be a balanced outreach coordinator.

Featured guest announcement for Friday, August 19th show

Posted in Astronomy, Podcast with tags , , , on August 13, 2011 by geminijk

Be sure to tune in for the August 19th show folks, when we talk to John and Greg, the writers for the Star-Splitters blog. This is a FANTASTIC blog that is dedicated to observing double-stars, so be sure to tune in next Friday, August 19th at 8PM CST!!!!

In the mean time, take a listen to the July 29th show, when we had a wonderful interview with Charlie Warren, editor of Amateur Astronomy Magazine, here’s a link to the show below.

At The Eyepiece Show – Interview with editor of Amateur Astronomy Magazine.

M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy & SN 2011dh

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophotography, Observing Logs, Sketches with tags , , on July 5, 2011 by geminijk
M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy & SN 2011dh by geminijk
M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy & SN 2011dh, a photo by geminijk on Flickr.

I “think” this is confirmation of SN 2011dh in M51. From my comparison’s to other photos, it sure looks like it. Kind of neat to capture this. I am a bit disappointed with the overall detail of the galaxy, I need way more practice with galaxies, which seem to be the most challenging of objects so far with the DSI II and Meade LS 8 ACF, even at f6.3.

Via Flickr:
Supernova SN 2011dh is highlighted.

Meade LS 8 ACF @ f6.3
Meade DSI II
5 x 11.3 sec exposures
Envisage, DSS, processed PS & Picasa

M10 – Meade LS 8 ACF and DSI II imager

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophotography, Observing Logs, Telescopes with tags , , , on July 5, 2011 by geminijk
M10 - Globular Cluster by geminijk
M10 – Globular Cluster, a photo by geminijk on Flickr.

I was rather pleasantly surprised on how this image turned out. I am having some difficulty using DeepSky Stacker (DSS), it has a hard time stacking my FITS images for some reason. I have had to use Envisage to not only acquire, but then to view the FITS images as well to try and determine which ones could be problematic, then deselect those in DSS to finally get a good stack. I’m pleased with this so far, and very happy with how my focus is turning out while using the Bahtinov Mask.

Via Flickr:
Meade LS 8 ACF @ f6.3
Meade DSI II
7 x 11.3 sec exposures
Envisage, DSS, PS & Picasa

Observing Report – SN 2011dh in M51(Maybe)

Posted in Astronomy, Observing Logs, Sketches with tags , , on June 27, 2011 by geminijk

I ‘think’ I have confirmation of spotting the SN 2011dh in M51. Friday started out as a very gloomy day, with thick cloud cover, but at dusk the clouds were quickly retreating, and I could see blue sky toward my north west. Sure enough, a quick peak outside at 9pm CST, confirmed the skies were clearing, with some lingering high clouds still looming around. At 12am, the sky was clear, and most importantly, the sky transparency seemed to be good as well.

I grabbed my LS 8 ACF, set it up outside and took the caps off to permit its auto-alignment, while I go in and do some research for the possible position of the supernova. My brief search yielded some fine astrophotos by amateurs, as well as some nice sketches. I was a bit concerned that I would not visually be able to confirm SN 2011dh visually, since the apertures described were 10″ and larger scopes. An 8″ should still be able to reach down to 13.9 by a quick calculation here at this website, so I was encouraged enough to go out and give it a try, especially since recent updates indicated the supernova has brightened to magnitude 12.7.

I sketched M51 on Saturday morning. I have the suspect supernova noted with 2 lines. I have two concerns about the confirmation of SN 2011dh. One is the fact that there is a star that I see in images that is on the same side of the galaxy as the supernova, even though its listed at mag 13.4, its still may be what I have caught. Second is the fact that I could not see any confirmation of the arms of the galaxy extending out to that suspect object. If there were visible arms, even a hint, then I would feel fairly confident I nabbed it. But here’s the sketch either way, let me know what you think.

M51 has disappointed me before, at least for the ability of me to see galaxies arm’s better, but I could see the core easily, and indeed NGC 5195 was easy as well. I could also see a distinct brightening in the core of NGC 5195, which I tried to represent in the sketch.

Its very exciting to spot SN 2011dh visually, if indeed my further researching can confirm that is what I captured. My next project, if weather and time permit, is to capture it photographically with the DSI II. Friday night was a fantastic observing session overall, and my next post will be expanding on the remaining deep-sky targets I viewed that evening as well, but I’m thankful, if indeed confirmed, I just nabbed my very first supernova! Try for yourself next time your out, at the eyepiece.And don’t forget, to call into the At The Eyepiece Show if you want to share your observations, I’d love to hear about it. Below is a quick finder chart for M51, which rides high this time of year, thus very well placed for observing.

Bahtinov Mask – A must have accessory for astrophotographers

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophotography, How To, Reviews with tags , , , on June 24, 2011 by geminijk

Focus Daniel-san, Focus!” Mr. Miyagi’s advice doesn’t just ensure you won’t get your butt kicked in your next karate tournament, but its a great peace of advice for astrophotographers as well. Ensuring you have accurate focus when using a CCD, or even DLSR, can be a downright challenge at times. Thankfully, there exists an extremely easy to use device that is also very economical; just the thing for me I thought.

FarPoint Bahtinov Focus Mask for Meade CATs

Enter the Bahtinov Mask. This super simple accessory is placed over the front of your telescope, and works by ingeniously creating a pattern on your screen or DLSR viewfinder (if equipped with LiveView) as your focusing on a star. The grid patter creates an ‘X’ on your screen, with a vertical line on either side of the image of the star.

Out of focus live image – Click to enlarge

As you adjust your focus, your trying to get the vertical line exactly between the ‘X’ pattern, the below image now shows a properly focused image of a star as viewed on screen using the Bahtinov Mask.

In focus live image – Click to enlarge

That’s it! Take the mask off the scope, slew to your target, and image all you want, with the peace of mind knowing your astrophotos will have the best possible focus for nice, tight star images. I picked up a FarPoint Bahtinov Mask from for a measly $19.95. Now ensure you pick up one for your particular scope, they have a mask for Celestron as well as Meade CAT’s. I’m not aware of the difference between say a the Celestron version to the Meade, but it probably is a slight difference between the physical dimensions, since your placing the mask over the front, that measurement is very important.

If your an astrophographer, the Bahtinov Mask is a great accessory to have, and takes the trial and error guesswork out of focusing. So take it from Mr. Miyagi and “Focus Daniel-san, Focus!“, your astrophotos will thank you.