Missile Launch Over San Francisco – Not Astronomy, but Cool Results


Not a UFO!  Last weekend the US Navy launched a Trident II D5 strategic ballistic missile from USS Kentucky (a Ohio class SSNB) off the southern coast of California.  Justin Majeczky and a friend were lucky enough to be shooting a time-lapse video over the Golden Gate bridge when they noticed the missile launch.

While not an astronomy target, capturing missile or rocket launches, especially at night lends itself very well to astro-photo gear, setup and software.  And nighttime launches often provide nice results, especially after sunset as the exhaust plume reflects sunlight high up on the atmosphere.  Can also trigger the formation of noctilucent clouds.

If you live in near a spaceport, or near a naval war exercise, tracking and capturing a missile or rocket launch with your gear can be rewarding.

Time Lapse Video of Lunar Eclipse


Stitched together the 330 photos of the September 27th Lunar Eclipse into a video.

A few things to note.  The Moon “jumps” a few times in the video, and I now realize that it’s due to my presence on the wooden deck is sufficient to cause the telescope to shift ever slightly.  Also I didn’t really take time for proper polar alignment, I was a good 5deg off and had to re-align during the total eclipse because the tracking was not perfect.  And last, some cloud cover rolled in so I wasn’t able to capture the tail end of the eclipse.

Nevertheless, still much better than the few frames I captured back in 2008.

For the curious of the camera setting.  The start with the full moon is taken at ISO 200 1/320sec and then increased up to 3.2sec exposures at ISO 400 during the eclipse.

Atik Infinity Camera – For Video Astronomy

Atik has just released a new camera dedicated to video astronomy: the Atik Infinity.  It is a step up from their Titan that sells for about $600, but still marketed as entry-level camera due to its ease of us and just scratching the $1000 selling price.

Atik Infinity Camera - Atik

Atik Infinity Camera – Atik

It’s designed around the Sony ICX825 sensor, the same one used with good success on their 414EX, and can be ordered as monochrome or color.  Atik also supplies a custom software application that allows you to live view, control the camera with real-time integration and broadcast on YouTube the resulting video stream.

While it may not have the active cooling of the 414EX, the lower price, smaller footprint and freedom from dew/frost issues that cooling brings it will certainly draw attention.

Below is a recap of the Atik Infinity live broadcast performed by Atik on September 8th to demonstrate some of the Infinity’s capabilities.


August 13th Celestial Pole Time Lapse


Couldn’t put all those frames to waste, so I processed and assembled them into a time-lapse video showing the Earth’s rotation and the various layers of clouds flying by.

The video was created with Microsoft MovieMaker, a tool that all Win7 and Win8 users have by default.  So it’s FREE!  Yay!

These were processed in IRIS and saved as BMP, but MovieMaker will also create videos with Canon CR2 RAW Files directly.  Therefore dump all your frame and you can generate an instant video without any processing.  By default it sets 7.0sec delay between images.  Simply select all images and change the value to 0.100 or whatever frame rate you wish.  And then export your video.



Missing the April 4th lunar eclipse?  No problem, NASA has posted on YouTube the entire event, all 45 minutes.