Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Bode you Good Night!

I've had these shots sitting neglected on my hard drive for nearly a month, don't know how they slipped my mind.  It was May 17th, and it was a fantastic night of brilliantly clear dark skies, many scopes, and good company out at the Observatory at Bisbee Hill.  Tonight looks like another one of those nights and I'm trying my best to not run out the door as I'm sure a good crew is out there right now (I have to drive to Philadelphia in the morning or I definitely would be out there!)  Hopefully the skies will hold this weekend.

This is a couple really long exposures showing the astronomers (and the stars) in action.
one 15 min exposure

and 30 min

Then I strapped my camera to the big scope and pointed it at a spectacular pair located in Ursa Major.  M81 and M82 also known as Bode's Galaxy and Cigar Galaxy are quite a dynamic duo.  M81 is a very large face on spiral galaxy and M82 is a unique starburst galaxy that is churning out stars on a massive scale being helped along by tidal forces from it's large neighbor M81.  There's a small galaxy on the lower left called NGC 3077, it's is also an irregular galaxy likely being acted upon by it's larger neighbor as well.

11 frames @  2min, f6, 81mm, ISO1600 , merged in DeepSkyStacker

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Holey Sun Batman!

Somebody made quite an sacrifice to Ra because he was out in all his glory this evening for the Venus Transit at Presque Isle State Park.  After days of rain and cloud cover it cleared right in time for us to observe this twice in a lifetime event.  My head is throbbing from squinting behind viewfinders and lenses for hours but it was a now or never, I'm currently nursing it with a glass of wine (probably a bad idea but the Tequila has run dry).

The photography was difficult to say the least.  I used a variable neutral density filter to block most of the light from the sun.  I should have sprung for a BAADER filter (google it) but alas they were either sold out or over-budget.  I did my best to get a good focus with my 300mm, set my intervalometer to 1 min intervals, and set the camera to 1/100sec @ f14.  I then mingled with the shockingly huge crowd only to return to the camera and recenter the sun in the frame.

Here's a few of the shots I quickly browsed and edited from 300+ images.
Second Contact "black drop effect"

199 frame time-lapse.  Not nearly as impressive as some other amateur video's I've seen but it's mine.
The dim moving smudges are from the large cottonwood seeds floating in the air.  I love the atmospheric ripples as sunset nears at the end.

Re-edited the time lapse. I either need better video editing software or better skills but I'm satisfied with this last version.  If anyone knows any software that will perfectly align multiple frames for time lapse videos, do tell.

And I nabbed a green flash as the the sun sank!