The Leo Cluster – Abell 1367

I managed to use the BRT to snap a black and white deep sky picture of this group of galaxies. The Leo Cluster, otherwise designated as Abell 1367 is a part of the Coma Supercluster of galaxies and spans even more sky area than what I've captured here.  The cluster is around 330 million light years away and one of the closest clusters to our own. The cluster contains over 70 galaxies, not all of which are visible in this image. The expanse of the view field even contains some quasars, one of which is known to be over 10 billion light years away and due to expansion, traveling away from us at nearly a quarter of a million kilometers per second. Pretty amazing huh?

In the image, you should be able to see two spiral galaxies easily, one in the upper left which is edge on to us and another toward the upper right. Most of the other galaxies in the field are eliptical galaxies which appear as large fuzzy circular objects in the image, they represent the majority of the galaxies in this image field.

Below is a 300 by 300 thumbnail, click on the image for the full size version.


Comet Linear C/2012 X1

I finally got a chance to edit and post the shots I managed to get with the BRT of Comet Linear from late 2013, early 2014. As of this article, the comet is already on its way out of the solar system almost to Jupiters orbit and thus, not really visible or worth photographing anymore (for the casual astronomy person that is). Even so, I wanted to share what I did get of this one as it came through.

Below, you'll find 3 different pictures of the comet, make sure to click on the picture for the full version of the image. The first two are from November 20th and 21st 2013 (respectively) and were taken with a wide field camera, the equivalent of your mid-grade DSLR which is why the comet appears to be so small. In the two pictures where it is small, I've included a red arrow pointed at the nucleus of the comet.

Black and white version – November 20th, 2013


Color version – November 21st 2013


Black and white with galaxy camera – March 1st, 2014


The Blood Moon (Lunar Eclipse) of October 2014

Correction: My sincerest apologies to the month of October, I apparently was very tired when I made this post and claimed this happened in the future during the month of November.  This was not correct and have updated what I can to correct this mistake, the eclipse happened in October and all pictures are from then.

Early this morning in US time zones the early birds certainly got the worm if there were clear skies and they happened to look toward the Western setting Moon.  A lunar eclipse, this one known as the Blood Moon, began early this morning and is just finishing up as the Moon sets in the West.  I managed to make it outside for a little while this morning in the relatively nice fall morning weather to catch a few pictures of it. Unfortunately, there was some cloud cover and haze which made for some challenging photography. Even so, I did manage to get a few relatively good shots which I've now uploaded into the gallery (see link below image). I hope you enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Camelopardalid Meteor Shower May 23rd to 24th

In an extremely rare treat, anyone with clear skies overnight tonight may get the opportunity of a life time. A brand new, one chance to see, meteor shower! Comet 209P/LINEAR has left a stream of debris in the Earths path and researchers expect us to hit the most dense part of the debris field (otherwise known as the peak of the meteor shower) at between 2 AM and 4 AM EST on May 24th.  Since this is being posted on the 23rd, that means overnight tonight!

Current estimates say this shower could be as little as 200 per hour all the way up to a whopping 1,000 per hour and those of us in North America will have the best visibility to the peak of the shower.

The reason for the name Camelopardalid is actually quite simple, as with other meteor showers, it is named for the area in which it originates in the night sky.  In this case, the constellation Camelopardalis (The Camel) which is near the Dippers and Cassiopeia in the Northern sky.  This is known as the radiant, the position in the sky where the meteors will appear to originate.


It is important to note that in most cases, that you certainly can see meteors by toward the radiant, you should not need to look at or toward the radiant to see meteors from a shower, especially if the rate is as high as predicted so if you are not in an ideal spot to see the constellation, don't let that discourage your viewing attempt.

Now, in the event that you're not in North America, or, you simply don't want to go outside to check out this show, you can sit back and watch from a computer or mobile device at the link below.  The Slooh network will be streaming the view from equipment set up to watch the shower.

Accuweather has also provided a general viewing guide taking into consideration the weather anticipated for North America.  You can find that information here:

Another good resource is a page direct from NASA setup for this event that can be found here:

Hopefully some of you may get a chance to view this potentially spectactular event!  Happy viewing everyone!

R.I.P. John Dobson (Dobsonian Telescope Inventor)

I just heard the news that John Dobson, among many other things, the inventor of the Dobsonian telescope, passed away yesterday, January 15th 2014, at the age of 98.  I had the pleasure of two instances of significance with Mr. Dobson over the years.  The first, exposure to The Astronomer's book and video series from the early 90's which he had a clip in.  This clip was one of my very first exposures to astronomy (much thanks to Jim Lewis for sharing this back then) and certainly helped inspire my drive and desire to pursue astronomy and make it a part of my life in some manner (mainly toward a degree in the field).

JohnDobson_01The second, was an opportunity to actually meet him at an ASKC (Astronomical Society of Kansas City) event where he gave a presentation.  His presentation was good and I'm sure inspired and encouraged people in the room which he excelled at doing throughout his life.  It was a pleasure to know of and understand his contribution to the astronomical community and to have actually had the chance to meet him.

He leaves behind significant contributions to the community that are, pun and more intended,… astronomical in their impact.  The invention of the Dobsonian telescope is a monolithic contribution from the stand point that, for the first time, it placed small and especially large aperture telescopes into a price range that even casual hobbyists could afford.  Even today, a 16" dobsonian style telescope (this is huge) runs roughly $2,000 while other 16" aperture telescopes will typically run from $10,000 to $20,000 as a starting price.

The second and, in my opinion, even more important contribution was his personal one.  The amount of public outreach and interaction that John Dobson had over the years of his involvement, and founding, of the San Fransisco Sidewalk Astronomers is staggering to consider.  The shear number of people that he encouraged to look through his telescopes and share enjoyment of the universe around us is simply astounding.  As the AAL (Astronomy Associates of Lawrence) so aptly puts it "Astronomy IS the people's science" and John Dobson was a true master at bringing basic, awe inspiring, astronomy to the people.

John, after the run that you've had with life, and all the positive contributions you managed to make, I'd say you certainly deserve the break.  You'll definitely be missed for those contributions and your willingness to engage and share the spectacle with people, it's with great thanks and joy that I can say I had the opportunity to meet you.

RIP John Dobson (1915-2014)


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