Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jupiter over Downtown LA

Tonight I went up to the Griffith Observatory to see what was going on. I tried to take a few photos of Jupiter through a scope they had set up on the lawn, as well as through the Zeis refractor in the dome itself. No luck. Clearly Jupiter is beyond the reach of a hand held camera. Tomorrow I am going to see if I can build a camera mount, based on this design.

It was a very clear night, and I took these photos of downtown L.A. and Jupiter high overhead. You may have to click the photos to seen the full size version - Jupiter isn't much more than an 8x8 blob of pixels.

Saw Mars and Jupiter, but...

... I have observed a problem with my telescope arrangement. With the Barlow lens set up, the rear end of the tube is too heavy, and the telescope tips up. (There is no counterweight.) I will need to solve this problem. Despite this glitch, I saw a great view of Jupiter and 4 (maybe 5) moons, and clearly identified Mars from a parking lot underneath the LA light dome. Not too shabby, though I was hoping to get some photos tonight.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Found a great spot

Assuming it's clear, I'll be out here tomorrow night! Jupiter before midnight, and Mars after midnight!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jupiter and 4 Moons

What a great night it was. It started out seemingly uneventful, as everyone I know was busy. I decided to walk up to Colorado Blvd, but before I got there I saw two large telescopes in the middle of a plaza. Turns out it was the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers out to observe Jupiter and show passersby its beauty.

I walked up, introduced myself, and before long I was manning one of the telescopes, and asking everyone who passed by if they wanted to see Jupiter and four of its moons. Most people did, though some were clearly too cool to actually want to see a planet that is a billion miles away and a hundred times larger than earth.

A hundred feet away from our setup was a fashion party underneath a shiny tent. I found it to be a fascinating contrast: on one side you have people obssessing over the latest fashions that will be obsolete within weeks or months, and on the other side you have people obsessively observing the Planet Jupiter, which has not materally changed in five billion years. I feel like there is an insight or lesson about humanity present here, but I can't identify it.

If you can deduce the lesson from this, leave it in a comment.

One interesting passerby responded to my offer to show him the planet Jupiter, took one look through the telescope, and began to express a profound disbelief that what he was looking at was, in fact, Jupiter. He repeatedly asked me why I should trust him that it was Jupiter, and suggested that it could be a star or something else. He could not conceive of the fact that predicting planetary motion has been possible for hundreds of years. I reminded him that I was not trying to sell him anything. I also pointed out that he probably believes in things far more farfetched than that which I was trying to convince him - that he was indeed looking at the planet Jupiter.

Then I realized he was piss drunk, and let him be.

Good times.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some Moon photos

Click images for hi-res version.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting Started

I'm all set to attempt some astrophotgraphy. I have a Meade 230 refracting telescope, a new hybrid diagonal, a 26 mm eyepiece, and a couple of digital cameras. Hopefully one of them will work in this comically un-professional arrangement.