Tag Archives: Sydney


Test of M8 from Sydney

Test image of M 8 (The Lagoon Nebula) from my backyard, 15 km North from Sydney’s city center, on 21st Aug 2019.

That was my first attempt to get the new equipment working. I was testing the Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 mount and the ZWO ASI120MM (guiding) and ZWO ASI178MC (main camera) with the ASIair. But I had plenty of problems to get the guiding working as the mount was not properly aligned to the South Celestial Pole (over Sydney, very difficult to see the faint stars using the polar scope of the mount). I had to use the drift method. After that, getting the ASIair properly guiding was hard as I couldn’t find any easy manual and never used PHD for guiding before.

This image combines 25 (of a series of 60) good 180s frames using the ZWO 183MC and my Skywatcher Black Diamond 80 (F=600mm, f/7.5. No darks, flats, biases or light pollution filter was used for this.

Later it was also tricky for me to play with the raw data: I have never used a color camera producing .FITS files before! It took me some time to get a good free(*) software for it and I found Siril. But the “bayer” decomposition didn’t work well with the ZWO cameras and my images had very weird colours.

In March 2020 I learnt a couple of extra things, including changing the bayer matrix from RGGB to GBRG for ZWO cameras and… bingo! So here it is the test image I got that night more than half a year ago! And still testing the equipment!

Ah, yes, stretching, colour contrast, saturation, levels, and luminosity with Photoshop.

Full resolution image in my Flickr.

Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO-MQ).

(*) Don’t get me wrong… I’ll get PixInsight eventually, when I get everything working well.

Talking with Spanish students in Sydney

Today I’ve done something I would have not expected to do in Australia: I gave a talk in Spanish! In my 12+ years living and working in this country I can only think in 2 occasions I did something like this: in 2009 I gave an informal talk about my research for the staff at the Spanish Embassy in Canberra, and in 2011 I gave an invited science seminar to researchers of the Spanish polar research vessel “BIO Hespérides” when it was docked at Sydney’s Harbour.

Today I’ve been with the very enthusiastic young students of ALCE “Australia Lengua y Cultura Española” as part of the science communication activities that we do at SRAP-IEAP (Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific, Investigadores Españoles en Australia-Pacífico). It was in the Willoughby classroom (Sydney), thanks to the invitation of the ALCE Director, Raquel Pardo. I was talking about the Solar System (in perspective, not only the Sun and the planets) plus I answered many of the questions about stars, galaxies, black holes and the universe they had.

1/3 of the ALCE students after my talk at the ALCE Willoughby classroom on 27th Nov 2019. They were so excited about Astronomy we didn’t take a single photo during the event! It was at the very end, when 2/3 of them have already gone and I was starting to pack up, when we realised we didn’t have taken any photo! And, yes, my son is there (it is easy to see who he is). Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez. 

As an extra I had a very special helper: my very own son, who, you know, loves the planets and the moon. It was a great experience for him as he had to say all of it in Spanish in front of other people. Plus, that was awesome, he was actually showing in the slides what I was talking about… I was very happy about it as we didn’t rehearsal anything!


Almost full moon and Sydney Tower


A 97.8% illuminated moon rises over Sydney on Sunday 13th November 2016. I checked for a nice spot to get the photo of this almost full moon (with a supermoon happening tomorrow) crossing behind the famous Sydney Tower.

The image was taken at 7:15pm Sydney time (8:15 UTC) using my CANON EOS 5D Mark III with a 70-200 mm lens at 200mm, f4.5, 100 ISO and 1/800 seconds. The Moon was at a distance of 355 806 km and had an apparent size of 33.6 arcmin. It was only 17 degrees over the horizon.

More info and high resolution images:


Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO/MQU)