Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Medusa Nebula in Narrowband

This project was fun! I finally had a chance to use my narrowband filters. This image was taken in May 2017. Total integration time in Ha/OIII/ SII is 10 hours. I used a modified Hubble palette for processing. This is my first narrowband image and I was not sure how to process it in Pixinsight. The image always came out too green after I color combined. After doing some homework and experimenting with Pixinsight, I finally found a combination that would work.

I find that color combining narrowband is not restricted to a certain pattern (flowers are red and green leaves are green.) This opens up all kinds of possibilities for creating "pretty pictures". I think that this nebula should be predominately red (hydrogen) to give an accurate representation of the object. Who cares! The colors chosen to represent a celestial body is entirely up to the individual. This is where personal taste and artistic preference takes precedent. That's why I love astrophotography and narrowband produces some pretty cool colors! 

Here's NOAA interpretation of the Medusa Nebula. This image is amazing! Take a close look and discover dozens of background galaxies. The Medusa Nebula is a planetary nebula. No, it's not a planet, but rather a star that is dying. The snake like filaments (hence the name Medusa) are being thrown into space as the star sheds its outer layers.

The universe has an infinite number of spectacular and fascinating wonders to behold...just look up!      George

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Needle Galaxy

Thanks to tsuyu (the rainy season in Japan), I’ve had some time to process some images. This image has an integration time of 680 minutes in LRGB. The cool thing about this image is that the photos were taken while I was asleep. The automation process in CCDAP worked wonderfully. Over the course of several weeks in May, the observatory was under the control of the computer. All I had to do was tell the program what I wanted to image and how many images to take and that was it. Opening/ closing of the dome, temperature regulation of the camera, focusing, mount control, autoguiding, weather monitoring (the dome did close once due to cloud cover), camera rotation, filter changes were entirely automated. I still needed to do the calibration frames, but most of the hard work was done. Automation is a good thing…when it works. The weakest link in the system is the focuser. I’ll be replacing the focuser very soon with a FastFocus system and Lacerta. This will give continuous focusing which should improve the FWHM. Currently the FWHM is around 3.5. I expect that number to decrease to around 2.5 or better. Stay tuned...

The Needle Galaxy lies about 40 million light years away. The edge of the galaxy is visible which makes this a popular target for astrophotographers. The distinct shape is narrow and pointed which is why it's called, "Needle Galaxy". If you look closely at the image you'll see some faint fuzzy objects which are other galaxies. For an even closer look at this galaxy, please check out the image NASA took with the Hubble Space Telescope. George

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Air Conditioner Covers

Recently, we had several air conditioners installed to keep things cool for our guests (and us) during those muggy summer afternoons and nights. We didn’t like the “industrial” look of having so many air conditioners in front of our home. The solution was to make covers to hide and protect the units. It sounds easier than it was. The covers required several hundred parts that needed to be made from scrap lumber. 

Each slat was cut on the bandsaw. That's 120 pieces! Then each slat required a spacer and that's 240 additional pieces! 

The rough lumber was planed. After each cut on the bandsaw, the piece needed to be planed. This project started to get tiring quickly. I guess that's why it's called, wood "working". 

Putting the pieces together was a simple process of gluing and nailing. 

The lid was the next thing to be made. Using scrap siding from the remodel, I went ahead and cut everything to size. 

Each piece was planed and routed. That's another 48 pieces. 

Before the slats for the lid were installed, a moisture barrier was added. The bottom of each board was then stained by Erika and I glued and nailed the whole thing together. (The moisture barrier is not pictured).

Erika finished staining the inside and outside of the covers and the lids and bodies were assembled in place. They were too heavy and awkward to move as a single unit. 

Mission accomplished...the air conditioners are hidden and protected. I'm glad this project is done. Up next, it's time to do more tiling. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

NGC 2403

NGC 2403 was imaged in March 2017. Integration time is 12 hours in HaLRGB and processed in Pixinsight. I wished I had more integration time, but the weather prevented any chance of gathering more photons. The jetstream is above Kyushu during the winter. This causes the "seeing" conditions to decline, making focusing a challenge. FWHM averaged above 3.5 most of the integration time. It was frustrating to go outside and see that the night sky was crystal clear, but the high winds in the atmosphere was making focusing close to impossible. This produced bloated stars in many of the images. Rather than throwing out those images, I went ahead and processed what I had. No worries, there's always next year to try again. 

NGC 2403 is a spiral galaxy located about 10 million light years away. Here’s a much better photo of this galaxy. Image processing continues to be challenging, frustrating, and rewarding. The original image contains much more detail, but some of that detail was lost converting to a format suitable for this blog. On to the next project...the Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TailWagon Dog Trailer

The dog trailer was purchased about 8 years ago in Seattle. It was hitched to the tandem and we rarely used it. We knew as the doggies got older we would need to have a way for them to get around, but at the same time provide a way for us to exercise. Well, that time has finally come. Lucky was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left rear knee. He’s been having difficulty walking. Instead of having an operation, I decided to have him rest for a couple of months and go on a diet. I’ll closely watch him to see if he improves over the next couple of months. According to the internet, smaller dogs have a very good chance of full recovery when a course of rest and weight loss is followed. Stay tuned…

The trailer is easily attached to the quick release. It’s very light and roomy inside for both doggies. The trailer has a bunch of pockets for storage. A futon on the floor provides a nice comfortable bed. Short leashes prevent the doggies from jumping out. Lucky loves it so much that I often find him resting in it, waiting for me to drive him around! He barks at me if I don’t ride fast enough!! Pictures of the doggies being "taxied around" will be included later. It's a lot of fun and good exercise too.  

 The  trailer has a brake and a stand for parking. 

The side material is reflective. The wheels have sealed bearings. Great design and it's well built. 

It's not too wide for the narrow roads of Japan. 

A Velcro rain hood can be easily rolled up and stored away. Lucky loves to have the top down with his face into the wind. More pics later...

Outdoor Sink

 Next up on the “honey-do-list” is an outdoor sink. The sink bowl was purchased when we first moved here. Hey, it only took five years to install it! The cabinet has four coats of water based polyurethane. The water faucet was carved into a 4x4 to give it an outdoor look. I had a heck of a time finding the correct fittings to make it work. 

I plumbed the sink when I built the deck a few years back. All I needed to do was drill a hole and install the drain pipe. The pipe goes to the drain (cistern) for the garden hose. No problem with drainage since the hole is almost 4 feet deep. 

The sink is all ready for bar-b-que season!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Entry Area Sink

It’s been awhile since I updated any progress on the five year remodel. Erika and I have always wanted to have a place for our guests to wash up near the entry. We also wanted something that was eye catching and colorful. I think we managed to accomplish those goals. To make all of this a reality, a nice piece of wood was required. The Japanese Chestnut was shipped from Osaka. I needed to shape, cut, drill, sand, stain, and finish the piece. The entire process was fun.  

The area the sink will be installed is here, near the front entry. It's hard to believe, but this used to be the entry to the bathroom.

Alright then, the base cabinet is complete and the top is drilled for the faucet and sink. The top is almost 2 inches thick!

Here's a close up view of the cabinet top. 

Ready for stain, finish, and paint. The door opens to gain access to the plumbing.

Here's a view of the drain and water hookups in the floor of the cabinet. 

Almost done. The sink certainly provides color and is an eye opener when our guests enter the house. 

Tile and a mirror will be added to the wall. I also have a "surprise" which will be added to the cabinet later. Please stay tuned for the finished product...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Coloring Up the Countryside

Spring is in full bloom. To celebrate 5+ years in Tsukahara, we decided to add some color in the yard. The flower baskets are an inexpensive way to brighten things up. Handsman and Gooday have a huge selection of flowers on sale right now. The baskets were purchased at Daiso (100 yen shop). It only takes a few minutes to put a flower basket together and it should provide color until autumn. Of course, the deer have other ideas…well, I’ll enjoy them while I can.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is the remains of an exploded star. The star exploded almost a thousand years ago (1054). The explosion was bright enough to be viewed during the day for 23 days according to . It is popular target for astrophotographers. The total imaging time is 20 hours in HaRGB. Preprocessing was done in CCDStack2 and post processing in PixInsight. Image processing has been challenging. PixInsight offers so many options which provides solutions as well as problems. I’m slowly climbing the learning curve. In this image, I wanted to focus on star color and detail in the nebula. Stay tuned for more images.

Update: This is an image of the Crab that is the current APOD. It's a collection of photos from Hubble, Spitzer, and an array of other devices used to detect radio waves, infrared, ultraviolet, etc. If you look closely at the center of the nebula, the pulsar is visible. For more information on that check out this link