Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eerie Yellow Ball Appears During Foggy Sunrise

What could this strange object be!? Oh, right, it's the sun. It looks very strange and eerie, similar to a foggy sunrise I saw last year. This time, I grabbed by DSLR to get a close up using the dense fog as a natural solar filter. In hindsight this was very risky and could have led to permanent damage to my eye or camera or both, but I took a chance and the dense fog held together keeping the sun rather dim.

sun looks orange ball fog sunrise
Single frame with T5i, ISO 200, 200mm, f/5, 1/1000 sec

orange ball sunrise
I messed with this one a bunch in iPhoto so I won't give the acquisition details

iphone yellow sun through fog
Single frame, iPhone photo

sun compare to HMI
Comparison of my image and the HMI Intensitygram image from the Sun Viewer app. I was hoping to catch a sunspot, but the face looks pretty quiet right now - not much to see even if I had a clear image

yellow sun through fog
Eerie pale yellow ball, single frame with T5i at ISO 200, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800 sec

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bradford Woods Star Trails

bradford woods star trails
29 images stacked in StarStaX
Summer Triangle

bradford woods star trails
96 images stacked in StarStaX
Cassiopeia and Andromeda

Bradford Woods Views of the Milky Way with Canon T5i

This weekend I was co-hosting a Peer Educator retreat for our health and wellness peer educators at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, IN. Bradford Woods is close to the Link Observatory, and I knew it would have better skies than my house in Noblesville, so I brought my camera along.

We had a campfire at night and I could see through the trees that the stars were crystal clear and that it was going to be a great night for stargazing.

When I put the fire out and stepped out into a clearing, I could immediately see the faint veil of the Milky Way. You know it's a great sky when you don't even recognize constellations because there are too many stars!

milky way in summer triangle over bradford woods
Canon T5i on fixed tripod, stack of 29 light frames at ISO 6400, f/4.5, 18mm, 10 sec
Total exposure time 4 min 8 sec

cygnus milky way label
Same image as above with the Summer Triangle and Cygnus
The clearing I was standing in was amazing, it blocked out all of the parking lot lights, and all of the lights from the cabins in the park were blocked by the tall trees. One drawback to the trees, however, is that I had no view of the horizon - and missed out on the brightest areas of the Milky Way. The region within the Summer Triangle is nice, and recognizable, but not the brightest bit by far.

andromeda 18mm
Canon T5i on fixed tripod, stack of 95 light frames at ISO 3200, f/4.5, 18mm, 10 sec
Total exposure time 14 min 41 sec
Facing the other direction, and at ISO 3200, I didn't get much nebulosity in the Milky Way, but I did catch our neighbor galaxy Andromeda - which at 18mm looks like a large blurry star.

stars and black tree silhouettes
Cassiopeia and Andromeda rising over the treetops
Canon T5i on fixed tripod, single frame ISO 3200, 18mm, f/4.5, 10 sec

I'll end by saying it's a good sign when the trees in the foreground are actually black at night. I'm so used to seeing houses and orange trees in the neighborhood. Even at ISO 3200, these trees make true silhouettes against the night sky. Very cool!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Supermoon September 8, 2014

I was driving home from Kroger and saw the most amazing moonrise over the pond in our development. Chris was nice enough to put away the groceries by himself so I could run outside and snap some supermoon photos.

It's the last supermoon of 2014. Okay, I know supermoons aren't all that super, but it's still fun to see a nice full moon on a clear night.

supermoon september 2014
Canon T5i single frame, f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO 100, 300mm

supermoon september 2014
Canon T5i single frame, f/9, 1/30 sec, ISO 100, 300mm

supermoon 2014
Canon T5i single frame, f/9, 1/30 sec, ISO 100, 300mm

supermoon sept 8 2014
Canon T5i single frame, f/7.1, 1/400 sec, ISO 1600, 300mm

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula with Canon T5i on Orion Motorized EQ-1

Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula with Canon T5i
Canon T5i on Orion EQ-1M, 240 subs, 46 darks, 81 bias, ISO 800, 6 sec, f/5.6, 300mm
In spite of the waxing gibbous moon (which happened to be International Observe the Moon Night) I got a good stack for the Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula. I improved on my last attempt from last summer. Previously I was restricted to 1.3 sec exposures on a fixed tripod - obviously longer exposures on my motorized mount is paying off!

This stack is a total exposure time of about 24 minutes, which is by far the longest net light exposure I've ever done.  You can clearly see the nebulosity in both nebulae. I also spent about 2 hours processing this image, and learned a new and better way to stretch curves in Photoshop rather than in Deep Sky Stacker. DSS is nice to get a rough approximation, but curves in Photoshop come out a lot smoother.

I also used my subtract Gaussian Blur technique for light pollution to remove the hot spot gradient in the middle of the image. It was a quick fix, but it did the job. I tried using a star mask without success, I guess I just don't understand how that works just yet - but the subtracted blur layer does a nice job removing gradient fuzz.

Canon T5i on Orion EQ-1M
Canon T5i on Orion EQ-1M
With a 300mm lens, my DSLR on the Orion EQ-1 was pretty easy to get a BASIC alignment. I was happy that Polaris was just barely visible over the roofline from my backyard without needing to set up on the grass. I used live-view manual focus, and then loosened the thumb screws to slew all the way around to the southern sky.

I could get 6 sec exposures without star trails, which is shorter than I got the other night on Andromeda, because the stars closer to the celestial equator appear to be moving faster than stars closer to the celestial pole.
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