Friday, January 30, 2009

The Waxing Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter in a line!

Thanks to NiteSkyGirl, I watched some terrific segments of Jack the Stargazer's videos. The segment covering the week of February 15 to 22 tells of some very exciting events coming up. This entire week will have a pre-dawn treat. The waxing Moon, Mars, Venus and Jupiter (our largest satellite, the red planet, the smallest planet, and the largest planet) will all be dancing around each other starting on the 16th. On the 22nd, half an hour before dawn (typically around6:30 to  7:00ish), you will see all four celestial bodies lined up in an almost straight line! I know if the weather forecast is good, I'll be packing up my photography stuff to head up to the highest/clearest point around here and getting some (hopefully) great shots! The photo above is a screen shot I took of the great and free multi-platform software called "Stellarium". Google it, download it and enjoy the sky much, much more. I know I have.

Moon and Venus 1/29/09

I came home from work last night and looked up as I got out of the bus and saw this wonderful view of the moon and Venus. The pictures don't do it justice. They were both so beautifully bright. I look forward to tonight. The weather is supposed to be clear and they will swap positions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day before transition

I work one block from the White House in Washington, DC and I took a stroll through the Lafayette Square area which is directly in front of the White House the day before the inauguration of Barack Obama. I saw this street sign and the sun trying to fight it's way through the clouds. I did a bit of HDR tone mapping on it and it brought out some of the shadow detail in the lamp. You'll notice that I used some fill flash on this shot to bring out the sign. You'll also notice (as I just did) that there are two surveillance cameras mounted on the bottom of the two glass lamps. I guess they were taking pictures of me while I was taking pictures of it! :-)


Friday, January 16, 2009

Nice night, but VERY cold!

Last night (1/15/09) was a very clear and crisp night. Cold doesn't begin to describe it. In fact, it was the coldest night of the year. It was around 18 degrees the last time I checked before bedtime. Waaaay too cold to go out and observe/photograph. I did however, break out an item that I've had for about a month now and haven't had much time to play with. It's a Meade DSX go-to mount. I've paired it up with my Astrotech AT66ED APO but have been focusing so much on Clifford (my big red Dob) that I haven't even had a chance to play with it yet. It has a very minimalist handset with limited features but supposedly tracks well. When the weather gets a bit warmer, I'll go outside and give it a try with some long exposure photography. Orion is sitting beautifully in the sky shortly after sunset...


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Orion Accufocus

While waiting for the clouds to lift, I thought I would continue to upgrade Clifford, the big red Dob and so went looking for an Orion Accufocus. I was finding that my focusing the scope was disturbing the view and caused both visual and photographic shake. I thought that getting the Accufocus would help eliminate this. I hope to find out after it's installed.


Monday, January 12, 2009

The full moon has come and gone

I've had no luck this go-around with another moon at perigee so close to the last one. I had hoped to be able to get a couple of shots of our closest satellite, but the weather would not cooperate with my work schedule. Two days last week, the weather broke and gave us clear beautiful days, only to gradually become cloudy shortly after sunset. On Wednesday, I watched the big beautiful moon on my way home from work and was eager to get the scope/camera setup out, but instead, watched slight wispy clouds drift over it as I approached home. By the time dinner was over, it had become a solid but slightly transparent shroud. When I was finally ready, it was a faint glow in the heavy overcast. The same thing happened on Thursday night as well. I'm hoping to get a break in the next day or two...

This past weekend was almost completely cloud covered so I missed the full moon altogether. Sigh...