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.
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.
Here’s a time lapse video of the moon setting from June 28, 2009. This was about 1 hour and 20 minutes of shooting 30 second exposures at iso 800. There was a 20 second pause in between each shot. I imported aprox 180 still pictures into imovie, adjusted the play time on each one to 00:00:05 and then exported the movie. About 1/2 thru the movie I messed with the tripod which shifted the frame. I won’t do that next time. This was my first experience with time lapse and it think it turned out pretty cool. Its a lot easier than shooting with the scope ;0
The kids were acting so crazy during the day on Saturday I said to my wife, ‘I wonder if there’s a full moon tonight.’ Go figure, when I went outside to hit up the scope this moon lit up the night sky. Any hopes of capturing DSO’s were gone when I saw this sucker, so I decided to make the best of it and stay in the solar system for the night. I took about 100 pictures and settled on this one. I used the f/6.3 focal reducer so I could get the whole thing in frame and I just barely did it. The camera ISO was set to 200 and the exposure time was 1/125. To get the nice grey moon color, I brought the picture into photoshop, did the initial auto-fix, then did auto-levels and auto-contrast. Also threw in an unsharpen mask and auto sharpen. Turned out pretty good for a rookie like me.
I shot this a month ago today but just got around to posting it now. I used a f/6 focal reducer when I took this picture. The focal reducer didn’t work very well on other DSO’s as it left a nasty vignetting problem on the pictures. Its an ok accessory for when you want to have a wider field of view, but I don’t think its very good for imaging. It did work out pretty well for the moon though, without it I can’t get the full moon into the frame due to the high powered zoom. The adapter basically reduces the zoom by 40%.
Here’s the first astro photo (video) I’ve ever taken.
The motion of the moon thru the picture is actually coming from the Earth’s rotation and not scope movement. I had just gotten the scope setup for the first time when I took this and didn’t have any tracking on. I used the celestron Next Image CCD / Webcam to take this movie on a Celestron CPC 1100 telescope.