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Comet ISONThe much-hyped Comet ISON is starting to brighten, though it is simultaneously drawing closer to the sun, making it harder to see and photograph. Here is what it looked like this morning.

Click on the image for a large photo of a  stack of all of the frames I shot as well as a time-lapse sequence of the comet moving through the star field.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch was a first for me to see so close by — about 3 miles.  This was close enough to hear (loudly).  This was also a couple of firsts for SpaceX — first launch of their Falcon 9 booster, and first polar orbit insertion from the Vandenberg, CA facility.

Click on the photo for more images and location details.

Here’s a wide shot of central and western Maui as seen an hour after sunset from the summit of 10,000 ft. Haleakala. The West Maui Mountains (center) are shrouded in clouds while the Kahului-Wailuku areas (right) on the northern coast and the Kihei-Maalaea areas (left) on the southern coast glow brightly (a bit too brightly for astronomers).

Maui by Night

Meanwhile, up on an adjacent area on Haleakala’s summit, the telescopes of the U.S. military track satellites and orbital debris, warning everyone of possible collisions.

USAF satellite tracking facilities

My latest night-sky panoramic shot — this time with the panoramic rig on a tracking mount.  Be sure to click over to the interactive panorama and pan and zoom around.

A great montage of 2012 images from earth-monitoring satellites and the international space station from NASA:

Comet Panstarrs and the Andromeda galaxy (M31)

A wet evening on April 6-7 made prospects poor for a morning showing of Comet Panstarrs, and indeed light clouds and even fog periodically interfered, but it could be seen a few minutes before the rising moon added interference.  The comet is at the top of the frame, right of center, and the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the fuzzy spot at lower right.  At the bottom left is the observatory of the Orange County Astronomers.

Comet Panstarrs was being hyped as the first good comet to pass by in a long time, so I had been anticipating its arrival.  However, because I was away on a trip,  I hadn’t seen it until last night (12 Mar. 2013).  I had looked for it previously, but poor sky conditions contributed to missing it until a good evening after I returned.  Having the moon nearby helped a lot to zero in on this somewhat disappointing comet.

Click on the image below for a larger version and additional telescopic view.

Comet Panstarrs and the young moon.


An experiment from back in December, 2012 – Astrophotography from an airplane (Virgin Atlantic VS008) – not a great result, but I did get a passable scene (recognize Cassiopeia?) despite having to push my camera to its limit.  Click on the photo to see a larger view and additional details.

From an evening in January, an interactive panorama (360×180) of the night sky.  This was taken outside my observatory at the Anza site of the Orange County Astronomers.

Use this link if you have a fast internet connection:  http://media.astrocamera.net/2013/0112/NightPan2/index.htm  This may not work on some portable devices.

Use this link on Google+ if you have a gmail/google+ account.  This version of the panorama is much smaller: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/108674246662415216536/albums/5838648298450942481/5843967342113704386

On my list of places to visit:

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2013/01/the-european-southern-observatory/100444/