Here are some photos of last nights super moon. This is the first time I’ve tried getting animals inside celestial shots, its was challenging and fun.
Here’s a high res picture of the first quarter moon phase from a few nights ago.
There was a brilliant full moon last night. Here’s an image of it setting this morning at dawn.
August 31st, 2012 hosted the last Blue Moon we will see in a while.
As you probably already know a Blue Moon is not really blue. Its just the name we give for the moon when the full phase occurs twice in one month. This is considered a somewhat rare occurrence (not really in astronomical terms) and the next one won’t happen until 2015.
A few hours after moon rise, I spotted it with my telescope and took some high resolution photos. After stacking and processing I was pleased with the results.
Click the following link to download a super high resolution photo of the moon 4000×4000! Great for desktop wallpaper.
To create this high res picture of the moon, I took 50 exposures using a full format CCD camera with a H-alpha filter. The H-alpha filter cuts down on the light so much you can capture the moon images without over exposing (great trick). I then aligned and stacked the 50 images in Registax. This process improved the focus and clarity of the image by 10x! I really like this method of Lunar photography. Its simple, fast and easy and the images turn out great.
Here’s a panoramic image of the moon. This is actually 4 pictures taken of different sections stitched together into one image. I think it would take 20 or more pictures to capture the entire moon with this method.
Merry Christmas everyone!
I just got around to making a time lapse video from last years lunar eclipse. I had taken a picture ever 30 seconds for the duration of the event. I lost a few frames due to clouds towards the final stages. The movement of the moon in the frame is due to imprecise polar alignment. I had to setup the mount that night and its alignment was slightly off. I remember having to baby sit it and correct the FOV every few minutes until the early morning.
This past Tuesday evening was a great night for astronomy work here in Northern Baltimore County Maryland. With the new moon phase only two days away most of evening was nice, dark and clear. I had a pretty good session, started a final photography job and then went inside and dosed off. I woke up Wednesday morning around 5:00 AM, went outside to close up shop and was happily greeted with a waning crescent moon hiding behind a thin veil of clouds just above the horizon in the east. A bright Venus was a little higher in the sky setting the stage for a spectacular dawn. The morning was graced with a special moon phase as its the last visible moon of the last quarter. I was pretty tired and out of it, but felt compelled to capture the moment as this is a relatively difficult moon phase to shoot timing wise and you only have a max of 12 chances per year to get it and they are always at inconvenient times in the early morning and the window of opportunity is only about an hour or so each month.
So, I snapped two pics of the last Waning Crescent Moon…
one with clouds and one without.
And a few pics of Venus too.
And then I went back to bed.
Today was a special celestial day here on Earth. In addition to it being the winter solstice there was also a total lunar eclipse. These two events had not coincided together in 372 years. I had been looking forward to the eclipse for several months, hoping for good weather and planning out my strategy to photograph the event. Photographing eclipses and timing everything just right can get a little tricky and having never done it before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I started to research and quickly learned I would need to baby sit the camera through the entire process (a 5 hour tour). As the eclipse progresses and regresses, the moon significantly looses light and gains it back and thus the camera exposure times need to be adjusted throughout the night. I was able to find a nice chart that illustrated the formula to determine exposure times in a lunar eclipse. I also found a time schedule for the different phases. I used these two documents together as a guide for adjusting my exposures, starting out at 1/1000 of a second for the full moon and working my way up to 2 full seconds for the totally eclipsed moon. We had a few intermittent clouds through out the night, but they didn’t last long. All in all it was a perfect evening and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Here’s a nice photo of phase 9 of the tail end of the eclipse. Its a combination of two exposures, one short to capture the detail on the illuminated surface and another long to catch the red hue of the eclipsed side. Blending the two frames together ads definition to the bright part of the moon and makes an interesting effect.
I set up my second camera with the fish eye lens to photograph the evening, hoping we might get lucky and catch a meteor during the eclipse (that didn’t happen). It was really cool to see the difference in the sky when the moon was eclipsed.
The period of totality was calm, serene and surreal. It got so dark, the stars came out like a moonless night. At the end of the show I had a nice collection of images that documented the entire process. I had programmed my cable release to take a picture once every 20 seconds throughout the night and did this continuously from 12:30 – 5:45 am. I set alarms on my iphone to alert me with every phase change and at those points adjusted the exposure times up and down. I also had to periodically correct the tracking as my alignment wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t auto-guiding. There were times through the process where I would take multiple exposures, one short and one long. This would capture both the black gray and white red effects at the same phase of the eclipse. Both styles of these pictures are cool and both are available to the photographer throughout the process. If I had to do it over again I would have taken advantage of this more and manually switched the times more often.
I spent a good bit of time sifting through the images and thinking about the best way to present them. There are so many cool pictures throughout the entire process, but I can’t really post dozens of pictures on the site. I pulled out the key frames / phase change moments and went from there. I made an animated gif of the eclipse and thought about making a time lapse movie. Then this final design idea came to me, I sketched it out on a post-it note, liked the symmetry and wiped it together in photoshop. I think it might make a nice postcard.
Here’s a composite image representing the 12 phases of the lunar eclipse.
This was really a great experience and it worked out better than I could have hoped. There are a few improvements I will make in 2014, and I’m looking forward to it already.
The November full moon is known in the farmers almanac as the Beaver Moon. This was a signal to let people know to set their beaver traps before the creeks froze. The Full Beaver Moon also comes from the fact that beavers are actively preparing for winter at this time of year.
I caught some nice pictures of the Beaver Moon while meteorite hunting in Lancaster PA.
Reddit, Am I doing this right?
Here’s a photo of Venus and the New Moon.
The yellow streak in the middle left looks a bit like a squiggly meteor or a UFO, but its actually a firefly.
Here’s a closeup of the moon right before it set.
I got a new telephoto camera lens for birding and wild life photography. I thought I would give it a try on the full moon.
Here’s a photo of the Waxing Crescent Moon on March 20th, 2010.
Here’s just the moon at full size cropped from the big image.
It was a pretty clear night tonight. I saw Jupiter hanging out next to the moon and it looked like a good shot. My scope is not currently setup as I’m in the middle of construction on a new observatory, so I just snapped this pic with the tripod and camera lens.
I’ve spent most of my meteor time this week prepping for this weekend. I’ve reviewed and recorded all of the streets that cross the path. I found the PA land record website and with a little creative searching I’ve been able to get all of the property records for all of the potential estates. There aren’t that many of them, <30 tops. The records show pictures of the houses, acreage and obviously the property owners names.
I’m manipulating this data and prioritizing the targets and preparing a field agenda. I’ve found that lack of preparation before the field visits results in a lot of wasted time and effort. This weekend priority #1 will be making contact with as many land owners as possible the goal being to get permission to search the land.
I bought a hand held hikers GPS and I’m putting in coordinates of the high value targets. I’ve also teamed up with two different groups of meteorite hunters and we are coordinating our efforts and working together. I am also working with a group of friends so that while I’m off talking to land owners they are searching the streets and public areas.
I took this picture on my last night in the Bahamas. I understand why they call it Paradise Island.
Quick update on the meteorite search. I have located 2 new security tapes that could be useful in the hunt. The tapes are not direct captures of the event, but they caught a bright light on the ground. I’m picking up the DVD tomorrow. I’m hoping I can determine the speed of the meteor at this location based on the number of seconds the light appears for. I should be able to determine relative direction as well. If there are shadows in the videos that could tell me even more. The most interesting thing about these videos is the location is very close to my estimated trajectory line. There are lots of hiking trails and public areas here so I will bring the metal detector and do a little hunting after I’ve reviewed the video and surveyed the site.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first man on the moon, I thought it was only appropriate to post a lunar picture. I took this photo the same night as the Mason Dixon meteor. Certainly not as interesting or exciting but still pretty cool. While the moon really irritates me while I’m trying to do deep space photography I can’t deny its amazing beauty. Nice work NASA, Buzz, Neil and Mike, no-one has really been able to top this trick in 40 years! That’s pretty sad considering all the advancement in technology since then. You guys figured out this engineering feat with slide rules! That’s incredible.
Special thanks to Eric from meteoriteblog.com for color correcting my original image. This one looks much better.