Monday, December 6, 2010

It took several tries, but we finally got some Triops hatchlings. This video show the first one! Right around top-center. Tiny!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Find The Asteroid

Near Earth Asteroid "Epona". See if you can find it.
You may need to click the image...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Creature Update

We have no creatures. I've tried two batches of eggs and nothing has hatched yet. I still have a few more to try. Not giving up yet!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Here at The Hollar Observer, we don't just observe the universe through a telescope. We observe everything. Today our Triops eggs arrived. Triops are a type of shrimp dating back millions of years before even the dinosaurs. The eggs arrived in "suspended animation" and can remain this way for over 25 years. Oddly, their lifespan is just a few weeks to a couple months but can grow to 3 inches in that short time. The package claimed to contain 30 to 50 eggs, but I counted over 70. So follow as we hatch and grow these ancient creatures.
As Jupiter passed opposition this year, I was able to get a good night of images. It took another couple weeks until I could find the several hours it took to process and create this animation. It's about three hours compressed into 3 seconds. The Great Red Spot is easily visible.

Click on the image to see the animation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New CCD (1 Ceres)

I've traded in my color camera for a mono CCD for higher resolution and easier processing.

It seems to be very sensitive! As it's first test, I decided to image asteroid 1 Ceres. It just passed opposition in June and, thus is very bright at about magnitude 7.
As its number implies, Ceres was the first Minor Planet or Asteroid to be discovered. It was discovered by G Piazzi at Palermo in Sicily being first seen by him on 1 January 1801.

Ceres has a diameter of 932.6 km and is easily the largest inner asteroid, although recently a number of larger Kuiper belt objects have been discovered. At its 2006 meeting in Prague, the IAU voted that Ceres should be one of the group of "Dwarf Planets". It is the only asteroid that is large enough to be pulled into a spherical shape by its gravity.

Ceres's orbital period is 4.60 years, its distance from the Sun varying between 2.55 and 2.98 AU. The orbit is inclined at 10.6° to the ecliptic.

I'm quite please with the new CCD and even from my suburban skies, am getting down beyond mag 18. I don't know how dim I can go yet as none of my software shows stars dimmer than that. I need to download the 80GB data set and that should take a while.

(source here)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mars is approaching opposition meaning it is in the opposite side of the sky from the sun and the closest it will be to Earth this year. It's not a very good opposition this time due to Mars being in an elliptical orbit.

This was my first attempt with my 8" telescope. I was hoping for more detail, but it turned out I was looking at a fairly 'blank' side of Mars. You can easily see the polar cap made up of mostly frozen carbon dioxide.

We had another clear night (Feb 11, 2010)) and I was able to get a shot in before yet more high clouds rolled in. This time it was a little underexposed and if I'd had more time would have taken some spectacular images. But this was the best I could manage this time.

Compare it to the CalSky model of what it should have looked like.

Friday, January 22, 2010

There's a webcam orbiting Mars!

The European Space Agency has a probe orbiting Mars called The Mars Express. It's job is to:
  • image the entire surface at high resolution (10 metres/pixel) and selected areas at super resolution (2 metres/pixel);
  • produce a map of the mineral composition of the surface at 100 metre resolution;
  • map the composition of the atmosphere and determine its global circulation;
  • determine the structure of the sub-surface to a depth of a few kilometres;
  • determine the effect of the atmosphere on the surface;
  • determine the interaction of the atmosphere with the solar wind.
Then there is this camera that was on board to watch the deployment of a lander. That was it's sole purpose. Thing is, it still works. The science team has little or no use for it. But it's still taking pictures and the ESA releases sets of these every few days. But they are raw pictures. Several amateurs, like myself, take these images and process them to bring out the detail. Like I did here.

Anyway, here's the link to my images on the ESA website.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Near Earth Asteroid 2010 AL30

On January 13, 2010 an 'object' whizzed past Earth just 1/3 the distance to the moon. It turned out to be a small asteroid about 10 meters across. Had it hit Earth, it would have likely burned up very brightly in the atmosphere.

The night before closest approach I was able to image it. I put together several dozen 5 second exposures to make this movie. It comes in from the left side of the field near the center moving right. Actual time it took to travel through the frame was about 4 minutes. It's hard to see, because it was the size of a house 80,000 miles away!