Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Low yellow moon on July 31, 2012

The moon is almost full and was a cool yellow color while it was rising tonight, July 31, 2012. At 98% illumination, it looks pretty darn full to me!

Great opportunity to play around with some settings:
moon july 31 2012 7-31-2012
1/320s, f/6.3, ISO 100
moon ohio july 31
1/125s, f/6.3, ISO 100 (some clouds)
ohio moon photo july
1/640s, f/5.6, ISO 100

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Moon photo with Canon EF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 III

Using the Canon Digital Rebel XT that my mother-in-law is letting me borrow, I was able to snap some moon photos tonight that are definitely an improvement over my point-and-shoot camera.

Here's one of my best shots from the dozen or so attempts.

moon photo with Canon EF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 III
100% crop and sharpened in Photoshop

Borrowing a Canon 350D (Rebel XT) from my mother-in-law

Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera
Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera
More power! My mother-in-law is letting me borrow her Canon Rebel XT, which according to the manual I guess is the same thing as the Canon 350D. It's the second time I've played with a DSLR, but the first time I have had the chance to really dig in.

I'm also borrowing two Canon lenses, the EFS 18-55mm and EF 75-300mm. I still don't really know what f/stop means so I didn't list that in my description haha.

It's been overcast all day, but it looks like things are clearing up in time to see the waxing gibbous moon rising in the east.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Favorite quotes from Neil deGrasse Tyson "We Stopped Dreaming" video

We Stopped Dreaming (episodes 1 and 2) are two of my favorite YouTube videos. Created by Evan Schurr, and inspired by Reid Gower's Sagan Series, the videos feature the voice of Neil deGrasse Tyson, dramatic music, and inspirational footage.

These videos really get my heart racing, out of awe and out of frustration - it's a complex emotion.

Although the videos are already compiled of different quotable Neil Tyson moments, I thought I would pull out my favorite bits for posterity:

Episode 1
"NASA got founded on the fear factor of Sputnik" 0:35

"All of this was focused on enabling people to make tomorrow come, that was a cultural mindset the space program brought upon us.... And that, in the 21st century, [is] the foundation of tomorrow's economies - and without it, we might as well just slide back to the cave because that's where we're headed right now, broke." 1:26

"I'm tired of saying this but I have to say it again: The NASA budget is 4/10 of one penny on a tax dollar. If I held up the tax dollar and I cut horizontally into it, 4/10 of one percent of its width, it doesn't even get you into the ink. So I will not accept a statement that says 'we cannot afford it'"  2:06

"The most powerful agency on the dreams of a nation is currently under-funded to do what it needs to be doing: and that's making dreams come true." 4:31

"How much would you pay for the Universe?" 4:45

Monday, July 23, 2012

Great Lakes at night as seen from space

After discovering the multitude of completely free and awesome images at The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, I decided to post an interesting shot of the Great Lakes at night as seen from the International Space Station (I added the city labels in Photoshop).

From 250 miles up, you can clearly see Bowling Green, Ohio! Hello astronauts! Down here!

Zoom to 4256 x 2832 pixels

View from the ISS at Night: "Makes me want to throw away my camera"

My friend @TravelinMike tweeted me a drop dead gorgeous timelapse video from the International Space Station. Take a look:

I completely agree! The footage is breathtaking, and it makes me wish I had a better camera, more experience, and - wait a minute... Knate Myers isn't an astronaut on the ISS. As Knate states in the video credits:
"Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas."
So what's the deal? Can I take epic footage from the International Space Station, add some music, and post it on my own Vimeo channel? According to NASA: Absolutely!

The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth isn't just a clever name, the site provides hours of free public access videos from space.

Heck, I can even snag some images to use on my site for free (like the ones below) as long as I say Images courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center and add a link to http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/

View from the ISS at Night
View from the ISS at Night
Boom! Free media. Nothing against Knate Myers, but I'm a lot less impressed. I might even make my own ISS video and post it online for everyone to gawk at! No fancy equipment needed!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"Seven Minutes of Terror" becomes most viewed NASA JPL video on YouTube

The past 4 weeks has brought a surge of activity to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) channel on YouTube. The cause of this activity is a video called "Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror," which, at the time of this post, has 768,825 views.

The video is now more popular than their second most-viewed "First Movie of Asteroid 2005 YU55," which, at the time of this post, racked up 717,138 views over an 8 month period.

Over the past month, the "Seven Minutes of Terror" video has also surpassed the "Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Animation," a video that contains the same graphics as the "Seven Minutes of Terror" video, AND was posted more than a year ago!

So what enabled the new video about the rover landing to surpass the previous video of the rover landing that got a 1 year head start??

Clearly, the use of music, quick edits, and dramatic commentary have helped audiences digest and share the information presented. Coupled with the proximity to the actual landing, the video has truly gone viral - and I'm predicting that it will reach 1 million views by the time Curiosity touches Martian soil.

Update: As of August 4, the video has over 1.3 Million views, it's the first NASA video to break 1 Million views, and has plenty of time to rack up some more hits before the landing.

Stellar sightings at the 2012 Ann Arbor Art Fair

Yesterday I spent 8 hours walking around the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which is actually comprised of 4 separate major art shows: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (the original), Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, State Street Area Art Fair, and Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair.

Among the world class art on exhibit, I found two pretty stellar booths!

Malone Photography had some amazing poster-size and panoramic photos for sale, which included amazing shots of the aurora borealis, star trails, and the Milky Way.

In spite of all the stellar imagery, I ended up buying a photo of a misty marsh scene. Nonetheless, if you're interested in great night sky photography, or scenic photos of Michigan that belong on a "Pure Michigan" billboard, then go to LakeSuperiorPhoto.com.

Another booth I visited wasn't really in the art show, but in a street populated with booths for non-profit organizations. I even saw the Michigan Atheists representing!

Probably the coolest (to me anyway) was the booth for The Mars Society! I especially liked their On To Mars! poster. I received information on the ongoing Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), and was reminded about the Curiosity landing coming up on August 6, 2012, 1:31 AM EDT.

Like I said, not the flashiest booth, but I was thrilled to see some interplanetary advocacy at the Art Fair!

Spotted the morning conjunction

I haven't posted in a while because we've had a string of hot humid weather (90 and humid at night), overall icky conditions, and I've been preoccupied with my job search as summer slowly comes to an end!

I did, however, spot the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon in the early morning hours of July 13, 2012. I woke up early to drive to Miami University for the (In)Visible Masculinities on Campus Summit, and to the east I was treated with the brights lights of the two planets alongside the Moon.

Screenshot from Star Walk app for iPhone

I regret not stopping to take a picture, but by the time I reached my destination the planets were lost in the sunrise.

I did a quick internet search, and found this photo by Jeffrey Hunt that matches what I saw that morning!

Friday, July 13, 2012 conjunction of venus, jupiter, and the moon
Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon as seen from the Chicago area (Source: Jeffrey Hunt)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dog Days of Summer start on Aug. 3, 2012 with heliacal rise of Sirius

If you've ever wondered where the expression "Dog Days of Summer" comes from, check out the Wikipedia page:
The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise (heliacal rising), which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
As the page notes, the heliacal rise of Sirius no longer corresponds to the beginning of the Dog Days, which were observed between July 24 - August 24 in Ancient Rome. However, that doesn't mean Sirius has ceased to rise at (or just before) dawn in the Eastern sky.

According to my Star Walk app, Sirius will rise with the Sun on August 3, 2012. Over the next week it will rise just before sunrise, making it visible in the light pre-dawn sky.

dog days of summer heliacal rise of sirius 2012
Sirius will rise with the Sun on August 3, 2012

dog days of summer heliacal rise of sirius 2012
Over the next week, Sirius will be visible rising just before the Sun

Stanford.edu provides an animation of the heliacal rise of Sirius alongside the sun. This screenshot shows a very basic idea of what can be expected.

dog days of summer heliacal rise of sirius 2012

Obviously, once the sun is high enough in the sky, even the very bright Sirius will be lost in the light from the Sun.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cygnus constellation with Deneb and Albireo labeled

Cygnus the swan contains the Northern Cross, an asterism (not a constellation on its own). An asterism is a pattern of stars that is recognizable in the sky, and may be part of a larger constellation or comprised of stars from several different constellations.

Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, is also one of three stars that form the Summer Triangle. The Summer Triangle is a good example of an asterism that uses stars from three different constellations: Deneb from Cygnus, Vega from Lyra, and Altair from Aquila.

Albireo is actually a binary star, which reveals a sharp contrast between Beta Cygni A (yellow) and Beta Cygni B (blueish) with even small telescopes. My point-and-shoot camera wasn't able to distinguish between the two stars, but this will be a neat object to come back to when I finally get a scope.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lightning photo taken with iPhone

Last time I tried to photograph lightning with Slow Shutter Cam () for iPhone, I got a huge lens flare or glare from the car window I was shooting through. This time, out my bedroom window, I avoided the glare and got one good photo out of about a dozen or so attempts.

lightning photo with iphone
iPhone photo with some contrast adjustment

lightning photo with iphone
Color adjustment in Filterstorm app and sent to Instagram