Entries tagged as asteroid

Today's "The Toon-Box"

A planet, a satellite, and an asteroid

Movement of Neptune and 303 Josephina on Sept. 10, 2015 (19% size)

As Pluto moved toward the western horizon, a planet started to come into the telescope's view through the southern window - Neptune. It was the first time I had seen it in person, but seeing as how relatively dim it is compared to other planets (magnitude 7.8), I decided to take photos the same way I do for stars.

Sure enough, it was caught on the photos as a moving bright spot, next to a 6.9-magnitude star called HD 214686. But I soon discovered that it wasn't the only object moving. A faint dot of about magnitude 13 was moving considerably faster than Neptune. Given the brightness, it had to be a small but known celestial object.

Consulting the minor planet database revealed the object to be 303 Josephina, an asteroid from the main belt with a diameter of about 100km. Out of pure coincidence, I had caught a planet and an asteroid together on several photos.

Neptune and its satellite Triton as it moves in the sky (50% size)

But the surprise didn't end there for me. I noticed that Neptune either had a bump or a small dot next to it. It turned out that it was Triton, by far the largest satellite of Neptune with apparent brightness of magnitude 13.5. Photographs taken a day apart clearly shows its changing position relative to the planet, as well. So thanks to the long exposure photography, I was able to take a planet, a satellite, and an asteroid all at once.

Here's the full version of the final frame of the animation, if you want to see it.

Neptune, Triton, and Josephina
Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - (f/10)
Filters: None
Location: Naju, Korea

#1: ISO 800 - 20s - 2015-09-10 00:14 KST
#2: ISO 800 - 20s - 2015-09-10 01:12 KST
#3: ISO 800 - 20s - 2015-09-10 02:34 KST
#4: ISO 1000 - 30s - 2015-09-10 23:28 - 23:30 KST (3 photos stacked)
#4: ISO 1000 - 30s - 2015-09-11 00:32 - 00:37 KST (2 photos stacked)

Asteroid Vesta & dwarf planet Ceres

3 days of observing Vesta and Ceres (42% size)

I've recently bought a motorized equatorial mount called iOptron SkyTracker, which enables the camera to track the stars at the same speed as they move in the sky. This is useful for photographing faint objects through long exposures. But since the light pollution in the city sky hinders long exposure photography in the first place, I was unsure whether this would be of much use.

To see that the mount works as intended and is still useful under an uncooperative sky, I decided to try photographing two kinds things - asteroids and galaxies. For asteroids, the two brightest, Vesta and Ceres, were chosen. They were close to each other while moving in the constellation Virgo, between Arcturus and Mars, in the southern sky around midnight. Ceres is also a dwarf planet, so I would be photographing two types of celestial body at once.

For three nights (April 21-22, 23-24, and 24-25), I photographed the area just above Zeta Virginis (a.k.a. Heze) to catch the movement of two objects. The SkyTracker mount was used on the first and third night because the sky was clear, but the second night was riddled with fog in the lower sky, hindering the view of Polaris which is needed to calibrate the mount. So I had to take the photo using only the camera on high-ISO, (relatively) short exposure settings.

Two things became evident in this round of photographing. One, Vesta (magnitude 5.7) and Ceres (magnitude 7.0) could be clearly seen moving towards west each day. Two, the SkyTracker mount did an excellent job tracking the stars and the asteroids, producing images far better than using camera only. The second night's photo had small streaks, despite having only 10 seconds of exposure. Here are the full resolution photos used for the animation.

  
Full resolution crops of Vesta and Ceres

Device: Canon SX50 HS
Filters: None
Location: Suwon, Korea

#1: 121mm - ISO 80 - 300s - f/5.0 - 2014-04-22 00:05 KST
#2: 121mm - ISO 1600 - 10s - f/5.0 - 2014-04-24 00:07 KST
#3: 119mm - ISO 80 - 300s - f/5.0 - 2014-04-24 23:19 KST

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