It is our pleasure here at AstroPhotography Tonight to introduce some awesome talent from the world of astro-imaging. In the spotlight is Keith Grice of Griceland Observatory located on the western side of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
Keith's observatory is composed of an 8' x 6' roll-off with an attached warm room for controlling the observatory equipment such as his telescope and cameras. Upon acquiring his telescope, Keith realized (as many astro-imagers do) that an observatory would be quite beneficial for minimizing telescope setup time which maximizes precious astrophotography time.
Griceland Observatory sports a nice array of equipment that is well-suited for astrophotography. The main telescope is a Meade 12" LX200 equatorially mounted on a rock-solid permanent pier. Piggybacked to the top of the main optical tube is a Stellarvue 102ED refractor which serves as an excellent imaging scope for widefield shots of deep space objects. The astrophotography cameras include a Canon 40D DSLR and the popular Philips Toucam for imaging the planets.
Recent Work in Astrophotography
We are proud to showcase a recent composite image of the Moon and Mars produced by Keith Grice in Griceland Observatory. Keep in mind that both Moon and Mars were not captured in the same exposure but imaged separately then merged together for presentation. Featured below is Keith's image and a write-up that he prepared for his local newspaper. As you will see, he had great timing for the imaging of both the Moon and Mars!
Keith Grice writes: The 2010 moon will appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than any other full moon this year, because our cosmic neighbor will actually be closer to Earth than usual.
The moon will be at its closest perigee-the nearest it gets to our planet during its egg-shaped orbit-for 2010 at 4:04 a.m. ET Saturday, reaching a distance of 221,577 miles (356,593 kilometers) from Earth.
At its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee. Perigee and apogee each happen generally once a month, but the moon's wobbly orbit means that the satellite's exact distance at each of those events varies over the year. The moon's phase can also be different during each apogee and perigee.
"This month has the largest full moon of 2010, because it coincides with the special moment when the full moon happens to occur on the same day as it is at perigee,"
And in a remarkable coincidence, Mars is at opposition tonight-directly opposite to the sun in the sky-so that as the sun sets in the southwest, Mars rises in the northeast.
Around opposition, the red planet gets closest to Earth. This year Mars was near at just 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) on January 27, and it will still appear remarkably bright during tonight's sky show.
To the naked eye it will appear as a bright, orange-colored star right next to the full moon.
-Local astronomer Keith Grice of Griceland Observatory.