Thursday, October 23, 2014

A very partial solar eclipse

Yes, I said, a VERY partial solar eclipse... for, you see, a 5,000 mile long storm is SLOWLY making its way through central Oregon here... and I do mean sloooooooowly. Yup, just in time for the partial solar eclipse today. Rain, rain, and more rain. Then a momentary break just after the eclipse began...

You can see a major sunspot collection known as 2192 as well as the fuzzy clouds passing by.
That sunspot collection is larger than the planet Jupiter which is bigger than 1,300 Earths!
I was very surprised that I could capture what I did, given the thickness of the cloud cover.


Maximum eclipse passed and still more clouds.

Then about 20 minutes after maximum, FINALLY there was a thinning in the clouds,
not a clearing, mind you, only a thinning... but just enough to start photographing again!

I also took some shots with a 200mm telephoto:

Then a last parting shot of the sun as the moon moved away from it

Yes, astronomy can be frustrating at times. But go ahead and do what you can... it just may surprise you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Second Total Lunar Eclipse of the Year 2014

Got out to the observatory about 2:10 am, Wednesday, October 8 and the Moon had already begun to slide behind the earth's shadow.
I used my Bushnell NorthStar 90mm Catadioptric Telescope piggy-backed on my Old Faithful Celestron C8. I attached my Canon T3i camera at prime focus and set up my intervalometer to trigger the camera every 60 seconds.
(Don't miss the BONUS at the end of this blog account!)

Initially I had the ISO set for 400 but eventually increased it to ISO 800 as totality began. The shutter speed initially was 1/250 sec but had to slow it way down to 15 seconds during the middle of totality. Here's my first shot at about 2:25 PDT:

As the shadow moved across the disk of the Moon I took a longer exposure (10 sec) just to show that the orange color, visible to the human eye, was already visible:

As totality came it appeared photographically that the Moon still had not been totally covered. This is an optical illusion because the human eye saw only shades of orange and deep orange. Notice that the lightest part of the Moon is in the 8:30 location from the camera photo point of view:

Here is a shot of what totality looked more like with the human eye. Notice that the brightness on the 7:30 rim were less pronounced:

At the end of totality you will notice that the lightest part of the Moon had moved to the 6:00 location (once more from the camera photo point of view):

Here is a shot of myself in the observatory with the eclipsed moon outside:

Well, it was about 4:30 am now and frost had begun to affect the front lens of the Bushnell scope and my feet were freezing (it dropped to 25 degrees F then !). So it was time to wrap up this 2+ hour session and get warm!

Each time I go out for one of these eclipses I learn new techniques and also what NOT to do. Next time: bring out the hair dryer to rid the scope of frost! Next time: use better socks and boots!

Here's the BONUS: As totality hit I heard elk calling out in the night! Awesome! What we all miss when we are cozy in our beds!

EXTRA BONUS: KTVZ, our local Bend, Oregon television station posted my photos on their website and on their evening news. Thanks, KTVZ!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Moon shots in preparation for the 2nd Lunar Eclipse this year

The weather wasn't the clearest (lots of smoke and unstable air) but was enjoying the late views of the moon before it went full and Wednesday's early morning lunar eclipse.
Photos at 800 iso, Celestron C8, prime focus, 1/30 sec exposure.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Clearing skies...but soupy viewing still

Though the skies have cleared the viewing is so poor that i didn't bother breaking out the cameras. I did test my video setup on the Moon, however. It should work well when I have several visitors at the observatory.