Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crescent Moon (Day 3), Earthshine, M13 revisited, and more!

This is the third day in a row that the weather has permitted a warm summer evening to scan the heavens!
Here is "day 3" of my effort to photograph the moon every night!

When the moon is in crescent shape and you expose for a longer time you can see what is called "Earthshine" on the moon's shaded surface! You can make out the various "seas" (darker portions) of the moon.

Here is a shot of my observatory with the moon in the background (see the Earthshine?)

I revisited the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules last night, taking 17 - 8 second photos and stacking them together to create this image. Can you make out the different colored stars (yellow, blues)? The overall color is slightly greenish due to the insufficient number of images to be stacked. I will go for more in the future!

It was during this effort that I noticed flashes in the southern approaching dry lightning storm coming up from California. Never heard the thunder but WOW, was there a lot of lightning strikes somewhere! I stacked my "wide field" views into a single short video below. Sadly the lightning flashes didn't show up, but you can see the apparent rotation of the stars in the sky as the clouds approached!

So I decided to pull the plug on my observing session about 11:45 pm. It was good to see the Lord's handiwork again!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Whirlpool Galaxy, Circumpolar stars, Crescent Moon, and More!

Two nights in a row of clear skies! Woohoo!

Got outside just in time to capture the second crescent moon in a row:

I also took another shot of the southern skies in the Milky Way...lots of interesting objects here!

If you step outside tonight after it gets a little dark and look to the south-south west you will see a triangle of bright objects: one a star (Arcturus) at the top, Saturn to the lower left, and Mars at the lower right (next to Spica in the constellation Virgo):

I purposed to photograph the Whirlpool Galaxy tonight just below the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) Here is a shot of the Big Dipper to the west of my observatory roll-off roof:

Believe it or not (you had better!) this image of the Whirlpool Galaxy is the result of stacking 38 5-second shots using a program for Mac called "Lynkeos." Simply amazing given that you could hardly make out anything in the 5 second shots! This galaxy is also known as M51.
Finally I took a "circumpolar" photograph by pointing the camera at the "North Star" (Polaris) and leaving the shutter open for about 10 minutes. You can see the earth's rotation creating little arcs in the stars!

Well that is all for one night! Maybe I'll get three nights in a row!
God is good!