Monday (16-January-2022) — New Jersey

Backyard Nighttime Sky Over New Jersey.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), although not visible to my human eye can be observed with the Stellina or Vespera telescopes. It is high enough above the horizon before dawn to be viewed above my house from the back patio. I use the Sky Live website to get the location of the comet, and then enter the numbers into the Singularity application. Within minutes, both the Stellina and Vespera systems have the comet centered and start taking images.

Comet (C/2022 E3, ZTF). (David J Mathre)
Comet (C/2022 E3, ZTF). Composite of 220 images taken with a Vespera Camera (200 mm, f/4, 10 sec exposures, 36m 40s total exposure). JPEG image processed with Topaz AI then Capture One Pro. (David J Mathre)
Comet (C/2022 E3, ZTF). (David J Mathre)
Comet (C/2022 E3, ZTF). Composite of 46 images taken with a Stellina Camera (400 mm, f/5, 10 sec exposures, 7m 40s total exposure). JPEG image processed with Topaz AI then Capture One Pro. (David J Mathre)

During the day, I used the Vespera telescope fitted with a solar filter to view the many sunspots currently visible. For solar observations, the Vespera takes individual JPEG images which I put together as a short time-lapse video.

The sky was mostly clear before midnight. Captured images of the Heart Nebula (IC 1805) and the Monkey Head Nebula (NGC 2174). Images from the Stellina were without any filter, and ones from the Vespera used a Dual Band (H-alpha, O III) filter. The filter helps bring out detail with images of nebulae.

For the following images, I processed the final JPG image with Topaz AI, followed by Capture One Pro. For the raw TIFF images, I needed to use Capture One Pro first, followed by Topaz AI. Follow the link to my PhotoShelter Gallery for larger views of the images. The nebulae images taken using the dual H-alpha, O-III filter are more vivid.


Stellina and Vespera Deep Sky Observations. JPG images processed with Topaz AI, followed by Capture One Pro. Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.


Stellina and Vespera Deep Sky Observations. TIF images processed with Capture One Pro followed by Topaz AI. Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.

I also set up two cameras to record star trails. I like the ability of the Hasselblad X2D to take long exposures using the internal camera controls. With the Hasselblad, I used 323 sec (5m 23s) exposures. The Nikon Z9 is limited to 30 sec exposures without using an external shutter controller. The previous Nikon D810a did have the ability to take exposures longer than 30 sec. Clouds started coming in after 22:15.


Star and Jet trails looking south. Images taken with a Hasselblad X2D camera and 30 mm f/3.5 lens (ISO 64, 30 mm, f/8, 323 s). Images processed with Phocus and the composites created using PhotoShop (scripts, statistics, maximum). Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.


Star and Jet trails looking north. Images taken with a Nikon Z9 camera, FTZ adapter, and 19 mm f/4 PC-E lens (ISO 200, 19 mm, f/5.6, 30 s). Images processed with Capture One Pro and the composites created using PhotoShop (scripts, statistics, maximum). Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.

Daily Electric Energy Used (96.1 kWh) from Sense. Daily Solar Electric Energy Produced (35.6 kWh) from Sense. Sunny. Deficit of 60.5 kWh.

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Sunday (15-January-2023) — New Jersey

Backyard Nighttime Sky Over New Jersey.

After several days of clouds and rain, the skies finally cleared. I had both the Stellina and Vespera systems out. There currently several active sunspots. During the night I captured images of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), Orion Galaxy (M42), Rosette Nebula (NBC 2237), Satellite Cluster (NGC 2244), Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), and the Moon. Also, I used the manual mode to search for the Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). It was finally high enough to be viewed to the northeast over the house from my patio. I used the Sky Live website to get the location, and then just plugged the numbers into the Singularity application. Within minutes, both the Stellina and Vespera systems had the comet centered and started taking images.

For the following images, I processed the final JPG image with Topaz AI, followed by Capture One Pro. For the raw TIFF images, I needed to use Capture One Pro first, followed by Topaz AI. Follow the link to my PhotoShelter Gallery for larger views of the images. The nebulae images taken using the dual H-alpha, O-III filter are more vivid.


Vespera Deep Sky Observations. JPG images processed with Topaz AI, followed by Capture One Pro. Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.


Vespera Deep Sky Observations. TIF images processed with Capture One Pro followed by Topaz AI. Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.

Since it was a dark night, I also set up a camera to capture images for a composite star and jet trails view looking north. Polaris isn’t exactly at the celestial north point. The file size is 11656 x 8742 (403.4MB).

alt_title. (David J Mathre)
Star and Jet Trails looking north. Composite of 110 images taken with a Hasselblad X2d camera and 30 mm f/3.5 lens (ISO 64, 30 mm, f/8, 323 sec). Raw images processed with Phocus and Capture One Pro. Composite created with Photoshop (scripts, statistics, maximum). (David J Mathre)

Daily Electric Energy Used (92.8 kWh) from Sense. Daily Solar Electric Energy Produced (33.3 kWh) from Sense. Sunny. Deficit of 59.6 kWh.

Weekly Electric Energy Used (618 kWh) from Sense. Weekly Solar Electric Energy Produced (121 kWh) from Sense. Deficit of 497 kWh.

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Saturday (24-December-2022) — New Jersey

Backyard Wintertime in New Jersey.

It was cold and breezy in the morning, but the sky was clear. So I decided to try out the Vespera Astro-camera with a solar filter to view the sun. I followed the instruction on the Singularity app and within 10 minutes was getting solar disk images with several sunspots. Unlike the nighttime observations where multiple images are used to make a composite image, the camera is taking individual images. It continues to track the position of the sun for as long as images are being recorded. I made a short time-lapse video shown below. One of the images captures the silhouette of a jet passing in front of the sun.

Jet Silhouette. (David J Mathre)
Silhouette of a Jet passing the Sun. Image taken with a Vespera Astro-camera. (David J Mathre)

The sky was clear again in the evening. I set the camera up just after astronomical twilight. I replaced the solar filter that I used earlier in the day with a dual band filter. The filter transmits wavelengths of light from the Hydrogen Alpha (H-alpha) and Oxygen III (O-III) emission bands seen in nebula. The filter has a sensor that lets the camera know that it has been installed. Presumably to adjust the sensor acquisition parameters. The filter appears to really improve the detail and contrast of the nebula images. During the night I used the Vespera to obtain images of the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), North America Nebula (M45), Crab Nebula (M1), Jellyfish Nebula (IC 433), Rosette Nebula (NGC 2237), Orion Nebula (M42), De Mairan’s Nebula (M43), Thor’s Helmet Nebula (NGC 2359).


Vespera Deep Sky Observations. Individual images in the slideshow are available in my PhotoShelter Gallery.

I also set up a camera for a star trail image looking south. The same general direction that is open for the deep sky Vespera astro-camera from my patio. Unfortunately, the raw file format (*.3FR) from the Hasselblad camera is not recognized by Capture One Pro. So this star trail image is a composite of the jpg images processed by Capture One Pro and PhotoShop CC.

Star Trails. (David J Mathre)
Star and Jet Trails looking South. Composite of 67 images taken with a Hasselblad X2D camera and 30 mm f/3.5 lens (ISO 64, 30 mm, f/8, 323 sec). (David J Mathre)

Daily Electric Energy Used (169.2 kWh) from Sense. Daily Solar Electric Energy Produced (29.4 kWh) from Sense. Sunny. Deficit of 139.8 kWh. This is most electricity used in one day since I started monitoring. Mainly because the GeoThermal HVAC needed the resistance heaters to boost the amount of heating needed to keep the indoor temperature at 66°F. The outdoor temperatures are supposed to get warmer over the next few days.

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Five-Years Ago (04-November-2011) — New Jersey

Moon and Sun images taken on the same day. If the weather cooperates this year on November 14th I will try to get some images of the large full moon (closer and even bigger than last month).

Sun with Sunspot AR 1339. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and Questar 7" telescope  (ISO 400, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec). (David J Mathre)
Sun with Sunspot AR 1339. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and Questar 7″ telescope (ISO 400, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec). (David J Mathre)
Waxing Gibbous Moon (69%). Autumn Night in New Jersey. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and Questar 7" telescope  (ISO 400, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec). (David J Mathre)
Waxing Gibbous Moon (69%). Autumn Night in New Jersey. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and Questar 7″ telescope (ISO 400, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec). (David J Mathre)

Five-Years Ago (30-July-2011) — New Jersey

Backyard Daytime Astronomy.

Sun with Sunspots and Clouds Passing in Front. Image taken with a Nikon D3s camera and Questar 7 inch telescope with solar filter (ISO 200, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro 6, Nik Define 2, and Photoshop CS5.

Sun with Sunspots and Clouds Passing in Front. Image taken with a Nikon D3s and Questar 7 inch telescope with solar filter (ISO 200, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro 6, Nik Define 2, and Photoshop CS5. (David J Mathre)
Sun with Sunspots and Clouds Passing in Front. Image taken with a Nikon D3s camera and Questar 7 inch telescope with solar filter (ISO 200, ~2500 mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro 6, Nik Define 2, and Photoshop CS5. (David J Mathre)