Came home from my piano lesson (yes you can still learn a new instrument past 40) and the sight of a 2-day old Moon and Venus in the dusk sky was stunning. Unfortunately by the time I got home to grab the camera, the sky had darken quite a bit, so I lost my opportunity for some color in the photo.
Venus 6 degrees from the Moon (May 17, 2018) – Benoit Guertin
While I did take more close-up photos, I find adding the rooftop in the foreground helps establish scale.
Notice the Earthshine, it was easily picked up to naked eye.
We don’t often look “straight up”. Unless you are laying down, it’s not a comfortable viewing position. However there is lots to see and the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) is right overhead this time of year.
Setting up a camera with a 10 second exposure can capture quite a good deal of the sky, and you don’t have to worry too much about star trails. What stands out is the large variations in the colors of stars, from cooler deep reds, to hot bright blues.
Constellations right above in the May evening.
Canon 80D (ISO 3200)
12 x 10sec (2 minutes)
In one of my previous post I mentioned how Messier 44, the Beehive Cluster, would be an easy find the evening of April 22-23, so even if I took this photo on the 21st, the same evening that I took a photo of the Moon, all I needed was to moved a few degrees north after observing the Mooon to image this large open cluster.
Messier 44 – Beehive Cluster. Benoit Guertin – taken with Skywatcher 80ED and Canon 80D
Photos of open clusters with small refractors always lack the diffraction spikes that really make the stars stand out. So a little photo editing did the trick to spice up the image.
Canon 80D ISO 3200
Stacked 22 x 10sec
The Moon should be the first thing you look at the day you get to peer through a telescope. It should also be the first thing you photograph. However don’t wait for a Full Moon. Sure a large round moon over the horizon can be breathtaking, but most of the subtle details of the lunar surface disappear under a Full Moon. The lack of shadows blends away the peaks and valleys, crevasses and ridges. It is really this dance of light and shadows that makes the craters stand out.
Click on the image below for full resolution.
Lights and shadows….
The photo above is a single shot with Skywatcher 80ED telescope and Canon 80D (ISO 200, 1/125s)
Wavelet analysis with Registax.
After a weeks of clouds, rain and even snow, I finally get a sunny weekend without a cloud in the sky. With the warmer temperatures, time to take the telescope out. Unfortunately no significant sunspot happening on April 21. Just a small region (AR2706) on the western part of the sun.
Canon 80D (ISO 100, 1/400s)
Skywatcher 80ED (80mm F/7.5)
Sun with sunspot AR2706 (21-apr-2018). Benoit Guertin
The Beehive cluster, also known as Messier 44 (M44) is one of the nearest open clusters, and therefore one of the largest in the night sky. While open clusters are often too dim to be seen with the naked eye, all you need is a pair of binoculars or a camera with long exposure to see it.
What makes this weekend special is that in the night of the 22nd to 23rd of April, the Moon will pass within 1-1/2 degrees of this cluster. So finding it will be child’s play.
Messier 44 – Open Cluster Benoit Guertin
On April 22nd, simply look for the Moon once the sky is dark, and just above it you will find the Beehive cluster with its 1000+ stars. OK, even with a telescope you won’t be able to see all the stars, but take some time to notice how this group of stars stands out with regards to background stars further away in our galaxy. And while you are at it, consider that nearly 410 years ago, Galileo made the first observation of these stars.
From there you can also hop over a to the west and observe the color difference in bright stars Castor and Pollux in the Constellation Gemini. And if you instead decide to go east, the smaller Messier 67 open cluster is also accessible with binoculars.
The second Full Moon in a month is generally called a Blue Moon. And yes the old saying “once in a Blue Moon” is in reference to this rare event. Well… if you consider every 2 to 3 years rare. However this one will be extra special because it won’t be blue at all! It’ll be blood-red because we’ll have a lunar eclipse on our hands!
September 27th 2015 Lunar Eclipse
The lunar eclipse will be visible from most of North America, but people out West will be better placed to see it. In the East, the we’ll only get a partial eclipse as the moon sets in the early morning on Wednesday the January 31st around 6:48am EST.
If you do plan to photograph a lunar eclipse, a tripod is strongly advised, and if you are using a telescope, an equatorial mount is required. The above photo is a single frame at 2.5 second exposure and ISO400 with a Skywatcher 80ED. Yes those are a few stars popping into view during the eclipse.