Asteroid (78)Diana motion on 1/23/2015

Asteroid positions were documented photographically using a Canon EOS60Da on the Meade 12” ACF working at prime focus (f/10) at Makemie Woods. All exposures were unguided, and a uniform exposure of 30-seconds using ISO 1000 was employed. None of the animated gif images were calibrated (using darks and biases, which were taken but just not used for the data reduction this time). The first night out pursuing this type of asteroid data collection (Jan 22, 2015) resulted in selecting certain asteroids for reasons based on their position and brightness. The objective was to image each asteroid twice during the night with enough time between exposures so that the asteroid’s motion would be detectable. Hence, asteroids too near the west in the early evening were skipped. Brighter targets are best for starting a process, so several asteroids with magnitudes brighter than 14th were selected. The mid-time of the 30-s exposure is labeled in the image, as is the asteroid identifier.
UPDATED 2/5/2015: Visit Mark's AL Asteroid Observations Program page to see over 100 observation sets
Added: 1/26/2015

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy with M45 on 1/16/2015

Wide angle view of Comet C/2014Q2 (Lovejoy) as it glides past The Pleiades (M45) on 2015-01-16 at 21:00 EST. A single two-minute photo through a Canon 135mm f/2 lens working at f/5.6 with a Hutech-modified Canon 5D (Mk I – original version) attached piggyback on Meade 12” side OTA-endcap camera bracket – all riding on the AstroPhysics 1200 mount (unguided) in Lanexa, VA. Sky conditions were clear (Unihedron Sky Quality Meter (model SQM-L) reading 21.1 mag/square arc-second) and 32° F.
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Added: 1/26/2015

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy with Star Trails on 1/10/2015

The Langley Skywatchers Astromony Club held a viewing session at their dark sky site near Barhamsville, VA, on 1/10/2015. The forecast was for cold (19F) and clear skies and 4 intrepid souls decided to brave the elements to have a look at the now naked eye comet. It transited around 2040 EST and Moonrise was at 2236 EST, so we were treated to quite a show. I decided to take a series of 1 minute exposures with a tripod mounted camera with a wide angle lens (28mm f/2.8) to produce a "star trails" image while my brother used a 4" APO refractor to image the comet. This is the result of combining 1 hour's worth of imagery. I added a short exposure layer to the image to provide the context for the area of interest.
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Added: 1/17/2015

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy on 1/9/2015

As Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) neared the meridian on Jan 9, 2015 at 8:05 pm EST, a series of 2-minute exposures were taken with a Canon 60Da coupled to a TeleVue 101mm f/5.4 OTA that was mounted piggyback to a Meade 12". These optics were supported by an Astro-Physics 1200 mount at the dark sky site in Lanexa, VA. Clear skies allowed the comet to be easily seen with the naked eye as a small fuzzy spot. Less prominent than nearby M42, still the comet's extended shape was unmistakable in the darkness (Sky Quality Meter reading 21.09 magnitude per square arcsecond) more than an hour before moonrise. The image is a stack of ten 2-minute exposures taken at ISO 1000.

Calibration frames (biases, darks, and flats) were used to correct each image separately to create a short animated gif and collectively for the composite still. AstroArt 5 was used for the calibrations, PixInsight was used for dynamic background extraction and histogram stretch. Photoshop CS6 was used to assemble the animated gif and to perform final corrections on the still.

Visit the Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy image gallery
Added: 1/10/2015