Moon, Jupiter and Venus Conjunction at Mono Lake

One of my photos from this moon and planet rise event has been published as the lead photo in an article in the August 2017 +SkyandTelescope Magazine by Don Olson, page 68. A description of Don's work to decipher a poem by Lord Byron appears on the Texas State University Web site, along with a copy of the photo:
'Celestial Sleuth' identifies Lord Byron's stellar inspiration http://www.txstate.edu/news/news_releases/news_archive/2017/June-2017/Olson062617.html

Here's their description of the photo:
"On August 23, 2014, astrophotographer +Jeff Sullivan observed the Moon with Jupiter nearby in a morning twilight sky. Glitter paths below three celestial bodies reflect in the waters of California’s +Mono Lake in this morning twilight scene captured by astrophotographer Jeff Sullivan. Venus, at lower left, has just risen above the distant hills. Jupiter, with its Galilean satellites visible, stands higher in the sky, just below the stars of the Beehive Cluster, M44. The faint glow of Earthshine appears on the “dark” part of the waning crescent Moon. Automobile headlights illuminate the tufa rocks on the shore of +Mono Lake in the foreground."

Astrophotographers and astronomers may recognize Don's name as the professor who publishes yearly predictions of lunar rainbow "moonbow" dates and times for Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.

For more photos from the event and a description of my planning process involving +SkyandTelescope, +Universe Today, +EarthSky, and +The Photographer's Ephemeris see my original blog post covering the event:
http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/2014/08/23/planet-and-moon-conjunction-at-sunrise/

I can't wait to see the magazine!

#astronomy #astrophotography #ShotOniPhone #iphoneography

 

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Mercury Transit of the Sun, May 9, 2016

There will a a transit of Mercury across the face of the sun, as seen from earth, on May 9, 2016.  This article on timeanddate.com can tell you when the mercury transit may be available from your location.  It also provides links to information on proper eye protection!

When the planet Venus was scheduled to pass in front of the sun in early June 2012 I wanted to capture the event, but I didn’t want to simply record a dark spot in front of a bright one.  So I decided to place earth-bound objects in front of the sun to capture the Sun, Earth and Venus in the same shot.  And why not… the next opportunity to capture a Venus transit across the face of the sun wouldn’t come for another 105 years!

My setup for the Venus transit enabled me to shoot it at 400mm:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • EF 70-200mm f.4 IS L lens
  • 2X III Teleconverter
  • Solar film for photographing the sun

Since I was including foreground objects but wanted to catch Venus and the sun as well, depth of field was a concern, so exposures were captured at f/32, 1/500 second, ISO 200.  That’s with the solar filter reducing incoming light.

The setup I’m considering for the Mercury transit will enable me to shoot it at 640mm effective:

  • Canon EOS 70D
  • EF 70-200mm f.4 IS L lens
  • 2X III Teleconverter
  • Solar film for photographing the sun

This time I’ll may track the sun and go for a composite photo showing the path of mercury across it.  In that case I could use an f-stop like f/11 to reduce any image softening from diffraction, so something like f/11, 1/2000 second, ISO 100.

Be careful if you try to capture photos of this event.  The sun can fry your sensor, so don’t leave the shutter open in live view for long.

I’m going to go get a camera or two set up and focused now!

“After centuries of trying, only photographic technology could measure the ‘Transit of Venus’ and tell us our position in the solar system.”+Royal Observatory Greenwich
Here’s my first result:
Mercury Transit of the Sun: May 9, 2016.

Mercury Transit of the Sun: May 9, 2016. Canon EOS 70D, 300mm, solar filter.

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Comet Catalina Nears Its Closest Point to Earth This Week

A photo of Comet Catalina at 12:34 am this morning.

Originally shared by +Jeff Sullivan Photography

Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina This Morning
Comet Catalina was easy to find this morning as it passed near the bright star Alkaid, at the far end of the Big Dipper’s handle.

www.JeffSullivanPhotography.com
#Comet #Catalina #astrophotography #astronomy #news

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See or Photograph Comet Catalina This Week

It’ll be easiest to see to the east in the early morning hours from December 8 on, but I caught it this morning on two DSLRs:
http://activesole.blogspot.com/2015/12/view–hotograph-comet-C2013-US10-catalina-December-2015.html
#nightphotography #astrophotography #science #astronomy #comet #Catalina #Canon
+EarthSky +The Photographer’s Ephemeris +PhotoPills

Viewing Comet Catalina Gets Better All Week!

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Leonid Meteor, 3:58 am

A Leonid meteor at 3:58 am this morning, showing the way back to the shower's radiant point in the constellation Leo.

#astronomy #astrophotography #Leonids #science #space

 

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Meteors with Venus, Jupiter & Mars in Zodiacal Light

Meteor with planets Venus, Jupiter and Mars

Meteor with Venus, Jupiter & Mars rising in zodiacal light during the Orionids, October 22, 2015

Who saw or photographed some Orionid meteors over the last night or two?  In the photo above, a meteor crosses over the path of Venus, Jupiter and Mars, rising in zodiacal light during the Orionid meteor shower around 5 am this morning, October 22, 2015.

Although the streak is clearly a meteor (note the characteristic green color), technically it’s not an Orionid, since the radiant point for the Orionid meteor shower is out of the upper right corner of the frame.  So this meteor is traveling at nearly a right angle to what its trajectory would be if it were one of the Orionids.

It may however be a Leo Minorid meteor, since its radiant point is to the left of Venus Jupiter and Mars this morning.  The Leo Minorid meteor shower peaks the morning of October 23, but it is a minor shower with an estimated 2 meteors per hour, but minor showers sometimes have an unexpectedly high rate, so tomorrow morning could offer a surprise from the Leo Minorids along with after-peak Orionids.

There are also random, sporadic meteors, particularly in the early morning, as your position on the earth rotates to the leading side of the earth as it travels through space rotating around the sun.

The Zodiacal light is sunlight shining off of dust in our solar system, the light tilted up from the lower left in the photo above.  You can experience the Zodiacal light, or false dawn, this time of year when a a pyramid-shaped glow can be seen in the east an hour before dawn’s first light (or 80 to 120 minutes before sunrise). This light is caused by sunlight reflecting off of dust particles in space in the same plane as earth and can resemble the lights from a city. It is tilted to follow the same ecliptic plane that the planets travel in.  Zodiacal light is best seen under dark skies, in places with minimal light pollution.  You can catch the Zodiacal light for another 2 or 3 mornings this month, but after that the moon will be too full and it will no longer set early enough to leave you with a dark enough sky to see this pre-dawn light.

You can see the Zodiacal light as the planets rise in this time-lapse video captured this morning before and twilight light started to brighten the sky:

Venus, Jupiter and Mars in Zodiacal light during the Orionid meteor shower this morning

#orionids #meteorshower #Canon #astrophotography

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Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight!

An Orionid meteor next to the constellation Orion

The annual Orionid meteor shower is created when Earth passes through trails of comet debris left in space long ago by Halley’s Comet as it orbits around the sun. The meteors, or “shooting stars”, develop when pieces of rock typically no larger than a pea, and mostly the size of a grain of sand, vaporize in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The constellation Orion rises to the east in the 11-11:30 pm timeframe.  The sky above you on the earth will encounter more meteors after midnight, as your position on the earth rotates around to its leading side as it moves through space rotating the sun.  For 2015, in mid Northern latitudes the first quarter moon (50% full) will set around 12:30 am early in the morning of October 21, so the sky will be darkest for seeing or capturing meteors in photographs from 12:30 am until morning twilight starts around 5:45 am.

This is a composite shot of the best meteors that I caught during the Orionid meteor shower in 2014, over the course of several hours in Central Nevada:

2014 Orionid meteor shower in Central Nevada.

 

Orion is roughly in the center, but you’ll notice that not all of the meteors radiate out from Orion as you might expect.  There are actually additional meteor showers active at this time, including the Northern Taurids and Southern Taurids, rising about 3 hours earlier than the Orionids, so they’re higher in the sky when Orion rises.

I used a star-tracking mount to follow Orion and produce that 2014 composite image, so when I created a time-lapse from the same footage, it turned out like this:

 

For a perspective fixed on the ground with the sky moving, here’s a time-lapse video from chasing the Orionid meteor shower in 2012 in the Mono Basin in the Eastern Sierra:

Where will you pursue this year’s Orionids?

#Orionids #meteorshower #astronomy #astrophotography #nightphotography

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Total Lunar Eclipse September 27, 2015

lunar eclipse

Lunar Eclipse September 27, 2015.

The partly cloudy forecast and webcam images didn’t look all that promising in the Eastern Sierra yesterday afternoon, so I ditched my plans to pursue one of several compositions that I had worked out, and I stayed home to see if the moon would make any appearance at all. Here’s the story and some of my results from the event.

Total Lunar Eclipse September 27, 2015: wide angle time-lapse and 640mm effective live action footage from the total lunar eclipse last night.  The partly cloudy forecast and webcam images didn’t look all that promising in the Eastern Sierra yesterday afternoon, so I ditched my plans to pursue one of several compositions that I had worked out, and I stayed home to see if the moon would make any appearance at all.

I watched for about an hour after it was supposed to rise at 6:44, but there was no sign of it, so I left my camera shooting a sequence of images for a time-lapse video, and I went back inside.  A few minutes later, the fully eclipsed moon was visible through a break in the clouds, from 7:56 – 8:06.  I came back out a while later, but the moon was behind the clouds, so I didn’t know that it had made a brief appearance until I reviewed the images later!

As the moon was more than halfway through the partial, umbral phase coming out of total eclipse, it emerged from the clouds and starting lighting up the clouds and landscape with increasingly bright light.

As the face of the moon returned to fully lit in the penumbral phase of the eclipse, there was a nice halo of color around the moon, so I set up a second camera to capture that.  I used my Canon EOS 70D with the EF 70-200mm f/4 IS L Series lens and a 2X teleconverter, for an effective focal length of 640mm.  The clouds were moving pretty quickly, so I also captures dome live video of the clouds moving across the face of the moon.  I had the camera on a sky-tracking mount, so the moon remains essentially still in the frame.

I didn’t shoot where I expected or capture what I anticipated, but by being there to catch changes in the weather, I captured some interesting results.

#lunareclipse #bloodmoon #september #2015 #astronomy #astrophotography #nightphotography

 

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See the “Super moon” Total Eclipse September 27 – 28, 2015!

Lunar Eclipse April 4, 2015

September 27, 2015, 6 pm –  See the “supermoon” total eclipse tonight!  For watchers in the Rocky Mountain states, partial eclipse begins at 7:11 pm local time, so look outside now!

For those of us on the West Coast of North America, the moon is below the horizon; moon rise occurs closer to sunset.  Here in the Eastern Sierra, local moon rise is around 6:44 pm and sunset is around 6:47 pm, depending upon how far north or south you are. The moon will clear the horizon to the east right around sunset, well into its partial eclipse phase, and be fully eclipsed from 7:11 – 8:23 pm. Then as the moon exits total eclipse, it will be in a partial eclipse for over an hour more.

For more specific eclipse phase timing in your region, see the article at www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2015-september-28

Good luck with your lunar eclipse viewing and photography, let me know how you did!


Photography notes from the April 5, 2015 lunar eclipse:

Lunar eclipses are a fun challenge, in part because they push the limits of your equipment.  The image above was captured at 4:51 am during the April 4 lunar eclipse this year, about 6-7 minutes before totality, so there was a sliver of bright sunlight on the moon.

The Canon EF 70-200 f/4 IS lens that I used was well focused, but shooting any lens at it’s maximum aperture tends to result in slightly less sharp images.  Adding more glass elements such as the 2X teleconverter further challenges sharpness.  Adding a teleconverter also reduces the f-stop, in this case 2X to f/8.  I wanted to stay at or below below 1 second exposure time to reduce motion blur, and at ISO 1600 I could use 0.6 second.  The high ISO also creates a little bit of noise, which can also challenge fine detail.

I had changed my shooting location when the weather forecast made the original ones I had identified look less attractive with below freezing temperatures, high winds, and possible clouds to obscure the eclipse.  I decided to just catch what i could from home.  I was shooting a time-lapse sequence, and shooting at 400mm I had room to lengthen the exposure time as the moon darkened, but  and the moon set just before totality.

I had my Canon 70D with a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens on a star-tracking mount to capture a time-lapse of the eclipse progress without the moon moving out of the field of view.  at 300mm the effective focal length was 480mm, but shooting wide open at f/5.6 that lens was a little softer than the EF 70-200mm and 2X teleconverter combo, even with the moon’s relative motion taken out of the equation.

I was basically using the 5D Mark III to measure and track exposure as the eclipse progressed and the moon illumination constantly changed.

The 70D / 70-300mm combo is a lot lighter than the 5Dmkiii / 70-200mm / 2X combo.  Heavier camera bodies and longer, heavier lenses can sometimes cause various problems with sky tracking mounts, but it may be worthwhile to test the 5Dmkiii /70-200mm / 2X setup on the sky tracker and backing off of the maximum aperture and a stop or two on the ISO to get more sharpness and less noise, lengthening the exposure time.

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See the "supermoon" total eclipse tonight!

For sky watchers in the Rocky Mountain states, partial eclipse begins at 7:11 pm local time, so look outside now!

For those of us on the West Coast of North America, moon rise occurs closer to sunset, in a little over 30 minutes. Here in the Eastern Sierra, local moon rise is around 6:44 pm and sunset is around 6:47 pm. The moon will clear the horizon to the east right around sunset, well into its partial eclipse phase, and be fully eclipsed from 7:11 – 8:23 pm.

See my blog post for more details: www.MyPhotoGuides.com
#astronomy #astrophotography #lunareclipse #september2015 #supermoon #moon

See the Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight!

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