Mike's Astro Photos

Archive for November, 2011

Nov.27 2011

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd

by , under Comets & Meteors

Comet Garradd is currently visible right after sunset in the western sky. Here’s a recent photo from the day after Thanksgiving.
Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd - November 25th, 2011

With a pair of binoculars and moderately dark skies you can hunt down Comet Garradd yourself. If you are interested in finding the comet, here is a good guide.
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Nov.19 2011

Spiral Galaxy – NGC 7331

by , under Galaxies

I’ve been testing out a new scope the last month. I was finally able to get a pretty good shot out of it last night. Here’s a picture of the fantastic spiral galaxy, NGC 7331

Spiral Galaxy NGC 7331 - November 18th, 2011

NGC 7331 is 49 million light years away and approximately 30,000 light years across. It was discovered by Wilhelm Herschel in 1784 and is one of the brightest galaxies not cataloged by Messier.

Astro Photo Details
5×10 minute RGB / 150 Total minutes
SBIG ST8300 Camera
MMOAG & SBIG 402 Guide Camera
Paramount ME Mount
RCOS 14.5
CCDSoft / The Sky X / CCDStack

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Nov.10 2011

Asteroid 2005YU55 – Close Pass with Earth

by , under Comets & Meteors

A very large asteroid, 2005YU55 passed by Earth Tuesday November 8th . It reached its peak closeness around 6:30 PM that evening. I made an attempt at photographing it, but failed due to technical reasons. I later found a post explaining the procedure I needed to execute and I was able to successful target, track and photograph the asteroid the following night.

Here’s a short animated gif of the asteroid while it is being tracked. The asteroid is the little dot in the center and the long lines moving are stars. Each exposure is 30 seconds long. The asteroid was only a few degrees from the near full moon and it was also pretty cloudy, so the image is hurt by this, but hey, the asteroid is still there!

Near Earth Asteroid 2005 YU55 - November 9th, 2011

Here is a youtube version of the asteroid sequence above, but just with more frames.

Here’s another animated gif of the asteroid. This time the stars are being tracked, so they are stationary as the asteroid flies across the field of view. Each frame in this clip is a one minute exposure.

Near Earth Asteroid 2005 YU55 - November 9th, 2011

Here is a youtube version of the asteroid sequence above, but just with more frames.

Both of these videos were taken November 9th, 2011 between 8 and 10 PM EST using an RCOS 14.5 telescope.

If you are searching for information on the 11/11/11 meteor, you don’t need to worry about 2005YU55. Its gone and won’t be impacting Earth anytime soon.

Here’s a good article about the asteroid with a map of its path relative to Earth and also a 3d video close-up of the asteroid obtained using a radio telescope.


and here’s a pretty good Australian news program about this asteroid and NEOs in general.

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Nov.09 2011

Astrophotos and Meteorites from Paris

by , under Comets & Meteors

The first email I read while waiting for my luggage at the Charles De Gaulle airport on Oct 9th was titled “New Meteorite in Paris”. The story, about a new french meteorite that had crashed through the roof of a home in Draveil France (a Paris suburb) had just been published on the same day I landed in Paris. This was certainly a sign that our journey was ‘universe’ approved.

Map of Draveil Meteorite Strewnfield

I had pitched the trip to my wife as two days of astro work in Greece and then fun time in Paris. How was I going to explain the need to go meteorite hunting, while we were visiting the most exciting city in the world? I struggled and ultimately decided the French would have to find the remaining pieces of the Draveil meteorite on their own, but while I was there I certainly wanted to have a look at what was already found.

Chergoch Meteorite - Sotheby's Paris France

By our second day in the city, fatigue had caught up with us and we decided to take it easy and just wonder around the city. In the back of my mind I wanted to ‘wonder’ into Alain Carion’s gallery — Dr. Carion is a world renowned Parisian meteorite collector and dealer. He has a shop in the center of Paris and he holds a piece of the newest meteorite fall. Visiting the Carion gallery was on my todo list for the trip anyway, so I figured we could explore the city while pursing this unofficial goal. I was still learning my way around and a little disoriented and we ended up walking away from Carion’s gallery instead of towards it.
As we were walking down the street, we observed an official military ceremony in process in front of an important looking building. It took us a few moments to learn this was the home of the French president and we were watching the changing of the guard. As we past by on the opposite side of the street, my wife looked into a shop window and saw a huge triceratops head. She said, ‘look at this’. To our surprise we had stumbled into Sotheby’s auction house and they just happened to be showing off a large lot of dinosaur fossils, minerals and meteorites (click link for gallery of items on auction block). Random luck, cosmic forces or the will of the universe had guided us to some of the finest meteorites in Paris!

Galerie Alain Carion

On our last day we went to the Galerie Alain Carion. The shop is located in one of the nicest parts of the city, an island in the Seine just a stones throw from Notre Dame. The collection is literally first class with an amazing selection of meteorites, minerals and a few fossils too.
Alain is a well known and well respected meteorite scientist, collector, dealer and hunter. I have heard a lot about his work and I have one of his meteorite books. Alain also has a piece of the Draveil meteorite which he acquired from its original owner Mrs. Comette. I was really looking forward to visiting the shop and meeting Alain.
When we arrived at the store front I was not disappointed. A stunning collection of meteorites, minerals and fossils was on display in the main window. There were several meteorites I immediately recognized including a huge slice of the pallasite esquel, a few big hunks of carbonaceous chondrite Allende and several nicely sculpted pieces of sikhote alin shrapnel, one of which I recognized from Alain’s book.
Here’s a picture of some meteorites in the front window of the Galerie Alain Carion. The sikohte alin in the bottom right is no longer there…

Carion Meteorites

When I looked in the far corner of the window I saw this picture. I later learned it is a hand painted original from one of Carion’s sons. Like the sikohte alin meteorite, the picture is no longer in the window.

Dellin Carion Original - Meteorite hits Tie Fighter

Alain was kind enough to meet with us and pose for a picture.

Dr. Alain Carion & Mike Hankey - Paris France 2011

He even showed us his fragment of the Draveil meteorite — the latest witnessed fall found on Earth and for all intensive purposes the first and only Parisian meteorite (not exactly, but close enough only 12 miles away).

Draveil Meteorite - Paris France October 2011

It was our last night in Paris and of course the clouds started to clear up for the first time since we arrived.

Seine River - Paris France

I knew the almost full moon would be rising shortly after dusk. I wanted to recoup some of my earlier losses and make it home with an astrophoto or two. So we got dinner at a fine crepe place and then walked around taking pictures of the city, the moon and Jupiter.

Moon, Jupiter & Seine - Paris France October 13th, 2011

Notre Dame at night, with the Moon and Jupiter over top.
Moon, Jupiter and Notre Dame - Paris 2011

The Moon, Jupiter and Notre Dame - October 13th, 2011

The Moon, Jupiter and the Louvre.

The Moon, Jupiter & The Louvre - October 13th, 2011

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