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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Jupiter and Mars in conjunction

Jupiter and Mars are in conjunction tonight at less than half a degree apart.  This first image was taken with my Canon 6D on my 8 inch Celestron EdgeHD telescope with an exposure of 1/200 seconds at ISO 400.  You can make out some cloud details on Jupiter and perhaps just a hint of surface features on Mars (ok, well, mostly it is just red - it's pretty far away from Earth at the moment).

This second image was exposed longer in order to see the 4 Galilean satellites of Jupiter which are roughly in a line above and right of Jupiter.  This image was taken with my Canon 6D on my 8 inch Celestron EdgeHD telescope with an exposure of 1/4 seconds at ISO 400.

Tonight's Moon

Tonight's Moon as it approaches last quarter.  This image was taken with my Canon 6D attached to my Celestron EdgeHD 8 inch telescope with an exposure of 1/500 seconds at f/10, ISO 400.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

ISS over Kitt Peak

An early morning pass of the International Space Station over Kitt Peak on 2017 December 28.  Below the ISS is the Spacewatch 36 inch tome and to the right is the Kitt Peak 4-Meter Mayall telescope dome.  Twilight is just beginning in this 30 second exposure at f/1.8, ISO 400 with my 10mm fish eye lens on my Canon 70D.

Kitt Peak Sunset.

Sunset o Kitt Peak on December 27, 2017.  This is an HDR combine showing a view similar to what I saw in real time.  This is a combine of 5 exposures with my 50mm f/1.8 lens attached to my Canon 6D.

Iridium 4 Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg AFB

 On Friday December 22, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Iridium 4 payload into orbit from Vandeberg AFB.  The cool thing was that the launch occured not long after sunset which gives an optimal view of the rocket and plume as it climbs into orbit.  It climbed into sunlight just over 2 minutes after liftoff.  I drove out along Kinney Road west of Tucson in the Tucson Mountains to get a good view towards the west.  I set up my Canon 6D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens on tripod and aimed west.  The rocket appeared about 2.5 minutes after launch as a small distant plume and this image was taken a few moments later.  The knot of in the middle of the plume is the result of the first stage separation.
 This image was taken a few moments later showing the upper stage firing at the left end of the plume and the first stage is visible behind the 2nd stage and above the separation plume.
 As the 2nd stage rockets into orbit, the first stage is visible below and behind it as it descends towards a water landing.  The plume of the rocket is blue near the top being lit by direct sunshine while the lower part of the plume is let by the setting sun.
 The upper stage and satellites are heading south as it ascends into orbit.  The colors are even more obvious and the lower edge of the plume are in shadow.
Several minutes after the upper stage and satellites disappeared below the horizon, the remaining rocket plume continued to evolve and expand as it dissipated about 15 minutes or so after its first appearance.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Desert Sunset - Tucson Mountain Park

Kitt Peak in the distance
I drove over Gates Pass road into the desert just west of Gates Pass in Tucson Mountain Park for the sunset yesterday.  This first image is the view looking west with Kitt Peak in the center of the image.  This is an HDR combine of 5 images showing not only the brighter sky and distant mountains, but also the darker foreground plants.  I used Aurora HDR program for the combine.  The image was taken with my Canon 6D and the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.  Exposures ranged at f/4 at ISO 800 from 1/1600 seconds to 1/100 seconds.

Gates Pass to Golden Gate Mountain
 This image is looking back along Gates Pass Road with the pretty mountains ranging from Golden Gate Mountain on the right to the dip of Gates Pass on the left edge of the image.  The image is an HDR combine with 5 images taken with my Canon 6D and 50mm f/1.8 lens at f/4, ISO 800 with exposures ranging from 1/200 seconds to 1/13 seconds.

Saguaro Cactus and pretty sunset clouds
 This image looks west into the setting Sun with silhouetted cacti and bushes in the desert.  This HDR combine of 5 images taken with my Canon 6D and 50mm f/1.8 lens and exposures of  1/1250 to 1/80 seconds.

Saguaro Cactus, sunset clouds and the Moon
This last image is similar to the previous one but in portrait mode to catch the crescent Moon in the sky overhead.  It is also an HDR combine of 5 images with my Canon 6D and 50mm f/1.8 lens and exposures of 1/800 to 1/50 seconds.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

HDR Crepuscular rays

 I recently purchased the Aurora 2018 HDR software and have found it relatively easy to use with many presets tailored to many different types of imagery.  My most recent eclipse post on this blog shows another sample of its utility.  Here is a mid afternoon cloud shot taken from near the 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak looking generally west-south-west-ward towards the southwest ridge of telescopes.  The scene greatly benefits from HDR techniques:

The first image is a combine of 5 images taken with my Sigma 17-70mm lens at 17mm focal length with exposures on the short end starting at 1/1250 seconds at f/8 and the longest at 1/200 seconds, all at ISO 100.  I used Aurora's "Realistic Bright" preset which brought out the landscape and helped also show the crepuscular rays coming down from the clouds.

This is the mid exposure (which is also the nominal exposure on this scene) of the 5 HDR images so you can see how dark the landscape is and also how washed out the details in the clouds appear.  The exposure was 1/500 seconds at f/8, ISO 100.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Total Eclipse, take 2 on HDR combines...

I recently installed the Aurora 2018 HDR software on my PC and here are a couple different HDR combines which greatly enhance the detail in the solar corona as well as helping to bring out the detail in the Earthshine-lit lunar surface in some HDR exposed images of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.  The HDR combines use 5 images taken at 2 stop intervals from 1/500 seconds to 1/2 seconds using my Canon 6D with a 0.7x focal reducer on my 8 inch EdgeHD telescope.  The images were taken about 25 seconds before the end of totality when the prominences on the western side of the Sun were mostly uncovered by the Moon.  Once I learn how to use Aurora, I might be dangerous in taking HDR images!

This first image combine is from 5 HDR frames taken at 2 stop intervals about 25 seconds before the end of the total phase of the August 21st total eclipse.  I wanted to show off the prominences on the western side of the sun as well. Not only is there lots of detail in the corona, but the Earthshine-lit lunar surface shows a great deal of detail.

This second image trades some corona brightness for some more detail on the view of the prominences but uses the same 5 images as the first image above.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Lightning storm near Kitt Peak

Last night while waiting to observe on the 4-Meter Mayall telescope on Kitt Peak, a lightning storm passed to the southwest of Kitt Peak.  Here is some lightning to the southwest of the mountain with the Steward Observatory 90 inch Bok telescope building lit by the Moon in the foreground.  The image was taken with my Canon 6D with my 50mm lens at f/8, ISO 1600 with a 20 second exposure.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Eclipse HDR and Earthshine

My eclipse photography plan during totality was to take a sequence of images with exposures tailored to see both the bright prominences and the faint outer corona, so my exposures were a set of 5 images every 5 seconds at ISO 200, f/7 (on my EdgeHD C8 with my Canon 6D and a 0.7x focal reducer) with exposures of 1/500 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec, and 1/2 second.  I used the same exposures on my Canon 70D with my 70-200mm lens at f/8.  Here are the result of some HDR combines using Picturenaut and then some touchup with the GIMP.

This is an HDR combine of 5 images taken with my Canon 6D attached to my Celestron EdgeHD C8 using a 0.7x focal reducer.

This is the same image as above but with some contrast stretching to bring out the Earthshine on the Moon.  I was hoping I'd be able to see it in the longest exposure of the sequence.

This HDR combine was obtained with my Canon 70D attached to my 70-200mm lens at 200mm focal length.  The exposures were made at ISO 200, f/8, and 1/500 seconds, 1/125 sec, 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec, and 1/2 sec.  You can see the dark blue sky along with the bright star Regulus to the left of the Eclipsed Sun.

This image is the same as the previous one but with some contrast stretching of the Earthshine on the dark face of the Moon.

Mount St. Helens

After seeing the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, we headed for Mount St. Helens, the volcano in southwestern Washington that produced the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century and the largest landslide recorded in history on May 18, 1980.  The eruption killed 57 victims as the north side of the mountain collapsed and blew out.  The landslide devistated a huge area mostly north of the volcano and an ash cloud rose to more than 7 miles, covering a huge area to the northeast of the mountain as the volcano lost 1313 feet from it's height.  The appearance of the formerly symmetric volcano was changed in minutes to a large horseshoe shape and over the next 6 years, a volcanic dome grew inside the crater atop the volcano.  Activity is greatly reduced but continues off and on, adding to the volcanic dome complex near the summit.

This photo shows Mount St. Helens from the north as viewed from the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  This location used to be called Coldwater ridge but was renamed after the May 18, 1980 eruption after the USGS geologist David Johnston who was killed during the eruption while manning some measuring equipment near this location.  His body was never found so he is almost certainly still very nearby.  It was a bit of an eerie feeling standing near Johnston's final resting place.  Johnston was one of the faces of Mount St. Helens during the nearly 2 months of volcanic activity around the mountain prior to the catastrophic eruption of May 18.

Spirit Lake was inundated by the landslide debris, sloshing water 800 feet up the slope of the hills to its north and burying the many cabins around the lake including the octogenerian Harry Truman who refused to leave the area despite the warnings of impending eruption under as much as 600 feet of debris.

This closeup of the summit of Mount St. Helens is the first of 3 images showing the horseshoe shaped summit left over from the eruption.  The clouds surround the summit area, especially the lava dome which grew after the eruption.

This second image shows the lava dome a little better. You can see a vertical column of steam rising from the vent.

Here is a closer view of the lava dome and the steam vent on its summit.

As we drove out of the park, we watched a pretty sunset over the mountain.

The magic hour around sunset produces some spectacular lighting and this day was no exception to that.

Wide field Total Eclipse shots

The following images were taken midway through totality using my Canon 70D with my 70-200mm lens.  The images used a 2 stop bracket with mid exposure of 1/30 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 and 5 total shots.  The images were taken in just over 1 second and I took a set every 5 seconds.  You can see prominences in the first image and increasing corona details as the exposures increase.  The final image also shows Regulus to the left of the Sun/Moon.