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Bright light in my window

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
The moon was shining brightly into our bedroom window at 1:30 this morning. I could clearly see Jupiter to the right of the moon. Looking above and to the left of the moon, was another identifiable planet. Taking out my skytracker, I realized that was Saturn.

Loaded up my camera with 70-300 lens and went outside before everything disappeared behind clouds. There were nice textures on the edge of the moon as it wasn’t full. Jupiter’s moons came through loud and clear. The oblong shape of Saturn showed in my frame.


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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Amazing!

You did a roundup of people places and textures in the Southern Continent, returned home to a modest caravan and a piece of branch, bowl of water and food to entice beautiful birds and now you have done the bloody planets!

Please don’t start mining for uranium!

Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Just found out that this rare Jupiter-Saturn conjunction happens once every 20 years. Glad I noticed and captured it. I’ll be 84 years old the next time around LOL
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
I was able to identify Jupiter’s moons visible in the shots above using a date/time tracker.

The innermost moon is volcanic Io, next in line is the ice-crusted ocean world Europa, followed by massive Ganymede, and finally, heavily cratered Callisto.

Jupiter has 53 named moons. Others are awaiting official names. Combined, scientists now think Jupiter has 79 moons. There are many interesting moons orbiting the planet, but the ones of most scientific interest are the first four moons discovered beyond Earth—the Galilean satellites.


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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Went back out yesterday and was able to get a little better definition from Saturn. Probably the maximum I will achieve with the gear I have.


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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
These with the little very, very expensive Olympus?

They should use your work in an AD!

What lens and body?

Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Anne and I got up around 4:00am to experience Comet Neowise this morning. We drove out of town to a dark area where there was a full view of the North-East sky. The comet was very dim, only being able to see a hint of it once our eyes adjusted to the dark. But a longer exposure made it visible in my photo. It was pretty cool to witness this.


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This is photo I took at 5:00am. The comet was no longer in sight - but this was the positioning in the sky this morning. The Comet is not too high above the horizon - so houses, trees close by or mountains will block it. Venus and the bright orange star Aldabaran are bright in the East-South/East sky. Moving to the left in the North-East sky, the bright star Capella can be seen. Moving your eyes down from there, was Comet NEOWISE. You can identify the cloud to the right of the red box, that are in the pic of the comet above.


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while I was at it, there was a new phase of the moon from a few mornings ago

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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
You are so frighteningly competent, Robert! It’s scary!

You’d be hired by the White House in 5 seconds and fired 2 minutes later,

.......once you tried to tell them the planets don’t, in fact, revolve around a meteoric object with orange hair!

Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Comet NEOWISE in the night sky. After capturing it early morning a week or so ago, research stated that from mid-July to the end of the month, the comet could be seen low in the North-Western sky, about an hour after sunset. Anne and I headed out to a good vantage point. Being in the middle of nowhere with no moon illuminating the sky today, provided stellar views of the millions of stars and many planets against a pitch black backdrop. Fortunately, just as with finding the comet in the morning sky - I went prepared with stars and locations to help identify where we should be looking. Initially we were unable to recognize the comet, and so I took a photograph with a wide angle lens and long exposure to view on the screen and see if it was there. That is the last picture of the 3. Once identified, I could point my camera with longer lenses. While still not obvious to the human eye, the intensity of brightness increased around 11:00-11:30 - enough so that we could see that there was an enormous tail that reached far up into the sky (not visible in our morning shot). Mostly it was just amazing standing in blackness for a couple of hours taking the heavens with our eyes.



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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
When we got back to our home, Anne wanted to see if we could find comet NEOWISE from there. I grabbed my camera and walked down the street to a clearing from the tall trees lining our street - to the N/NW. I could not see anything, but decided to handhold my camera and take a shot (8 seconds) to see if anything showed up. Sure enough it was there, but sitting just under the lower set of trees in the distance. Being that the comet will be higher in the sky each evening for the next few days, we may be able to see it from there. 6,800 years until we see this comet again.

pic taken from in front of where we are staying, when we got home


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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
I was irritated when I took 2 long exposures (1’st was 25 sec and 2’nd was 50 sec) only to realize that a plane went through the shot ruining them.

Or so I thought. Anne realized it was travelling too fast and thought it was too bright in the sky for a plane. I went online this morning to check the ISS schedule for passing over our area and sure enough - it started moving across the sky at 22:51 - which coincides perfectly with the timestamps of 22:53 and 22:54 when each image was taken.

https://in-the-sky.org/

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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
ISS crossing Comet NEOWISE - On purpose this time. We headed out to local sideroad that I scoped out in the afternoon, in anticipation of the 6 minute crossing of the ISS at 10:02pm.

Unfortunately the North and Western skies were covered with cloud. So we hung around until the shorter 2 minute lower trajectory crossing at 11:43pm.

By then the skies had cleared and exposed both the ISS and the comet in close proximity to each other. The space station came into view exactly on time, just above the comet under the Big Dipper (NW) , and then sped across the sky to the right (N, NE) - actually moving away from us as it gently disappeared in the sky about the same trajectory as up it appeared (not horizon to horizon as I expected).

Olympus Live Composite feature works well in not allowing long exposures to get overexposed.


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Once the ISS went out of my frame, I quickly spun my camera on tripod, to the right by 90 degree to catch the rest of the trail to see where and how it disappeared (right side).


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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
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The Waxing Crescent Moon, was positioned just above the tree line near the horizon in the clear sky last night. By about 11:30pm it had disappeared below the horizon.




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It was a unique July (23’rd) sighting to have comet NEOWISE being at its closest distance to the earth before travelling away for another 6,800 years —- and this new moon positioned in close proximity for viewing both.

After getting home and pulling up some of the shots with the wide angle lens, I noticed a thick star cluster in the upper left (above the moon). It took a while for Anne and me to hunt through all the possibilities this morning on Google Images - and finally identified it as the famous Coathanger asterism, which is part of Brocchi’s Cluster (also called Collinder 399). Identified by the familiar coathanger shape of the asterism with six stars oriented east-west forming the line of the hanger, with four stars in the middle creating the hook to the south. So satisfying. Now I have to go out tonight and pay more attention to it, if the sky is clear.






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At around 11:00pm the ISS also passed through the scene with a bright white flare visible for a few seconds a couple of minutes after it came into view.





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I finally got a shot of the comet NEOWISE showing the split tail - the blue ion tail, and the dust tail.





A few others from last night

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It’s been a fun month of sky observation —- Just one must have left. Every year in late July, the Earth passes through the debris left by two comets, one that creates the Delta Aquariid meteor shower and one that creates the Alpha Capricornid meteor shower. This year, both meteor showers peak on the same night - July 28’th, 2020.
 
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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
DISAPPOINTING BUT SATISYING

We were positive that the small star cluster recognized in the upper left of a sky shot from the previous night, was the Coathanger Asterism. The straight line and upside down hook, were recognizable.

So last night I specifically focused my lens on that area. I prepared the image and overlaid lines and focus on the main stars, so the hanger could be visualized. Comparing to other images online, some star placements weren’t making sense.

I spent another hour searching diagrams of the night skies, to see if I could find a cluster that matched the star layout in my photo. Eventually, I did. The real identity is COMA STAR CLUSTER or COLLINDER 256. (Discovery is about making mistakes lol)

In around 240 BC, Ptolemy III named it for the Egyptian queen Berenice's legendary sacrifice of her hair.

Look for the Fidget Spinner in the center (Our personal observation)


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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
More NIGHTIME fun. I aimed the camera to provide the ISS streak horizontally across the frame in the middle of its pass. I left the lens open for 1/2 hour to catch some star streaks. Look for the North Star Polaris in the upper left side. Easy to recognize as all stars rotate around it while it stays stationary. I used the cars rear lights and headlights to add some dimension to the foreground.


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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
I just purchased the MoveShootMove Startracker and am anxious to use it...lots of functions for shooting stars, MW, trails and precise panos.
that can definitely help keep stars from streaking, while shooting objects in the sky that require several seconds of exposure - like the comet or Milky Way. I’m not dedicated enough to astrophotography to invest that kind of money ($200-$250 USD for that model without accessories), but have learned that such trackers can be very useful. I imagine that for me it would be like the nice motorized star and planet tracking telescope my brother-in-law purchased probably 10 years ago - he took it out and spent the time viewing the skies for the first couple of weeks - and ever since then it’s been sitting in the window of a back room porch, never used.

Enjoy and share the results if you are able to. (y)
 
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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
The International Space Station was taking a short jaunt across the West to South/Western sky tonight —- and I was setup and fortunate to catch the whole 2-1/2 minute pass in my frame, from it coming into view at the right side of the frame (10 degrees altitude) until it grew dim and disappeared on the left side of the frame (22 degrees altitude). Although the pass was in total darkness at 11:00pm, the bright moon lit up the field in front of me for the picture - making it appear I took it at twilight.



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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
When I was checking about taking pics of the Milky Way, I found out about a new star observation this afternoon that would help identify it —- it’s called “The Summer Triangle” —- the 3 bright stars being Vega, Altair and Deneb.

I looked closely at an overhead pic I took of the Milky Way last week to see if I could recognize the stars. But the sky area is filled with stars making it impossible. I figured if I went out and looked with my eyes, it may be more easily defined —- and it was. I took a few shots and kept references for when I got home, to identify some of the brighter stars. I wasn’t able to capture the Milky Way at the same time, because of the bright moon.

I also noticed an in-line grouping of stars in front of the star Deneb. A quick check on the sky map determined that it is the Constellation Cygnus (the Latinized Greek word for swan and it also contains the Northern Cross). In fact there are 4 Constellations in this section of sky.

Olympus E-M10 mkIII w/11-22mm f2.8 lens (Live Composite mode), aiming straight upward to the sky above —- processed in Photoshop, using my references to enhance the three triangle stars and other brighter stars, and draw the lines to help identify the Constellation.


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INTERESTING FACTOID: The Summer Triangle serves as a stellar calendar, marking the seasons. When the stars of the Summer Triangle light up the eastern twilight dusk in middle to late June, it’s a sure sign of the change of seasons, of spring giving way to summer. However, when the Summer Triangle is seen high in the south to overhead at dusk and early evening, the Summer Triangle’s change of position indicates that summer has ebbed into fall.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Thanks for the lesson.

When they went out of Egypt, had you been there it wouldn’t have been 40 years of wandering as you could guide them by the stars!

Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Anne & I read that the peak display of the Perseid Meteor Showers, would be last night and early morning today - in our area of Ontario, Canada. Fortunately it was incredibly clear skies when we headed out at 11:00pm. We saw many beautiful streaks from different parts of the huge expanse of the sky. I realized it wasn’t really possible to photograph them, unless I happened to have my camera aiming the right direction and my shutter open at the right time. Even so we were not disappointed.

A great thrill came from being able to identify the planet Uranus around 1:00am when Mars rose in the East and the Moon rose on the horizon shortly after.. My sky map showed Uranus sitting mid point between the rising moon and Mars. Clouds were starting to roll in by then, and all I could really see we’re a few bright constellation stars above where the planet was supposed to be, and I could recognize very faint dots as the moving clouds revealed bits of the sky from time to time —- I aimed my camera in that direction.

When I got home this morning, I was able to match the orientation of the different stars and recognize it in that way. While Jupiter, Venus, Mars and sometime Saturn are easy to spot, I would have never thought I’d recognize and capture Uranus. Made my evening.

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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Fun with the stars on a perfectly clear night

1’st pic is aiming SOUTH with streaks almost parallel to the ground

2’nd pic is aiming NORTH creating a circular pattern around Polaris (North Star). There is a short red line from an airplane passing by, as well as a small streak from the Perceid meteor shower on the bottom left side


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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
An exceptionally clear sky, provided good clarity for Jupiter’s moons. The four prominent ones are visible with two of them in front of each other. The other bright object above and to the right of Jupiter, is the HD 181240 star.


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A couple of meteor streaks show in the West/NorthWest/North sky containing the Big Dipper, and Polaris (North Star)

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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
I just purchased the MoveShootMove Startracker and am anxious to use it...lots of functions for shooting stars, MW, trails and precise panos.
hey Chris have you been able to try out the star tracker yet? As I get deeper into appreciating what can be taken in with a camera lens, I am beginning to see the benefits. As an example, there are some galaxies that I have identified the location of in the sky, but they are so dim that they require minutes to hour long exposures to collect enough light so they are visible. Without a tracker to compensate for the rotation of the earth, the streaks from movement will obscure it. Just curious how this unit is making out?
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
An example of a famous galaxy I have identified the location of,is the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). It is actually in the last picture posted of the Big Dipper. Now that I know where to look, I will go out and try and shoot the area with a long lens, but would likely only see results if the stars aren’t appearing to move during the exposure.I have put a red arrow where that Galaxy is:

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And this is what should show up in that area, although not as close without probably a telescope. (This is obviously NOT MY IMAGE. It is one taken by a photographer with simple camera gear and a skytracker) You can also see another Galaxy on the left side of the frame.

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Robert Watcher

Well-known member
From 2 nights ago, my attempt at capturing the Milky Way.

Clear view to the South in a black sky. This is four images, combined for intensity and depth. It was cool to have Saturn and Jupiter included in the shot.


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This pic is straight from the camera without processing, is a little more realistic as to how the Milky Way looked to the naked eye, once the eyes got adjusted to the dark.


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Chris Calohan

Well-known member
Have you tried stacking the images in PS and doing a blend? All you really have to do is use the automatically align and then crop what doesn't fit. We've either had rain every night it might have been possible to use the tracker, or in my case, I also had to order a new ball head as mine wouldn't sit still.
 

Robert Watcher

Well-known member
Have you tried stacking the images in PS and doing a blend? All you really have to do is use the automatically align and then crop what doesn't fit. We've either had rain every night it might have been possible to use the tracker, or in my case, I also had to order a new ball head as mine wouldn't sit still.
yes that is how these were done. That is why the processed Milky Way, is so much more intense. I stacked in PS and used Median Blend. However it is not as easy as it seams. The stars do not lineup perfectly - some of that having to with the movement being an arc, so each shot has to also rotate. As well in the time it takes to capture several images, the stars and Milky Way are in a different place. So the only way to work with this image was to mask in the ground and trees from one of the images. It was still fun to have done it
 
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