Latest Astrophotos

This section of the web site is dedicated to news regarding amateur astronomical activities in the Knoxville, TN area.

We have a wide range of observing interests and also enjoy taking astrophotos of all astronomical subjects. Some of our latest photos are shown at right. If you are a member of a club affiliated with the Astronomical League, feel free to use our photos for any club-related purpose. (Other uses please ask permission.)

Clear Sky Clocks

Knoxville Clear Sky Clock (click image for complete details):

Sassafras Ridge Clear Sky Clock (click image for complete details):

Miscellaneous Links

United States SkyWatch Forecast by Heavens-Above page for West Knoxville, TN 
Heavens-Above page for Unicoi Crest
View and conditions at Look Rock Astronomy Picture of the Day

Observing Lists and Pictures

Night Sky: Gemini

Presentation for March 2004 SMAS meeting. Includes object descriptions with photos and diagrams. [PowerPoint for the Web format ~ 2.5 MB total]

Also provided is a link to the star chart handout (in PDF format) provided at the meeting: Night Sky: Gemini Star Chart (27 KB)
Night Sky: Perseus

Presentation for November 2003 SMAS meeting. Includes object descriptions with photos and diagrams. The illustrations link to the original web source as credit. [PowerPoint for the Web format ~ 5.9 MB total]

Also provided is a link to the star chart handout (in PDF format) provided at the meeting: Night Sky: Perseus Star Chart (40 KB)
Night Sky: Cygnus

Presentation for August 2003 SMAS meeting. Includes object lists/descriptions and 3 star charts for Open Clusters, Nebulae, and Double Stars. [PDF format ~ 1.4 MB]
Overlay Image of Cygnus

Image of Cygnus with Night Sky: Cygnus objects labeled. Move mouse away from and then over the image to hide/show the overlay.

May 5, 2002 Planetary Alignment

Click image to expand and show an overlay with the planets and brighter stars labeled.

May 15, 2003 Lunar Eclipse
PDF (147 KB)
PSD (264 KB)
Captured with an Orion 100mm f/6 refractor, 24 mm Celestron Ultima EP, and an Olympus C4040-Z digital camera

Previous Observing Reports

SMAS Star Party at Unicoi Crest, Oct 5th 2002
Tennessee Star Party (TNSP), Sept 26-28 2003

Latest Report: Venus Transit of 2012

(Click the photos to get a full-sized version)

Click to enlargeMy wife and I invited some friends over to enjoy the transit of Venus on June 5, 2012. The transit was predicted to begin at 6:04 PM local time. Only the ingress would be visible at my location as Venus would still be in transit at sunset. I was setup with my StellarVue 105mm refractor and APM binoculars, both with Baader film solar filters at the ready.

Just as 6:04 arrived, a single cloud decided to cover the Sun. It didn't last long and cleared in a couple of minutes or so. I was able to start taking photos with the refractor just after first contact.

I used my astro-modified Canon Xsi DSLR for the photos. The Live View feature proved extremely useful once again as it made fine focusing so much easier. I simply used the 10x zoom on the tiny sunspots and did fine adjustments until they appeared as sharp as possible on the DSLR screen. Getting as close to perfect focus as possible is one of the most important factors in capturing good astrophotos, and is often the most difficult aspect to get right.

Last Contact of Ingress, click to enlargeThe active Sun was also a nice addition to the transit. There were numerous sunspots visible plus a large number of tiny, peppered sunspots of a quantity I do not recall having observed before. I do not observe the Sun often, but the surface features were fascinating.

We all enjoyed the show until about 7:30 PM when Venus began to slip behind some trees in our subdivision. The next transit doesn't occur until 2117, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Click the image below to access a 7 second video in MP4 format (~ 1 MB) that records approximately the first 40 minutes of the transit. If would like to leave a comment, you may do so using a copy I uploaded to YouTube.

Click to play video