Dad has kindly lent me his Nikon D3100 DSLR camera. I opened up the aperture, put ISO to 3200, put it on the ground (on a piece of card...) and took a 30 second exposure. Here's the result (after enhancing in Photoshop)
The milky way around the constellation Cygnus is clearly visible, and I'm pretty sure this is NGC 7000, The North America Nebula, so called because of its shape:
Oh dear days without a post. It's not on is it? I'm stuck in an airless room in Tottenham very day these days, getting files ready for the external verifier who is coming to check all the students' work on Wednesday, which is just about as dull as it sounds.
Anyway, it's not all bad. Recently I put together all my Moon images and video into a short movie and here it is. For busy 4AoSers, the good stuff starts around 8 minutes in:
Yes, quite easily. The Orion Nebula is getting higher in the sky every night so you should have no trouble photographing it, even handheld. You need to set your camera on manual settings, open up the aperture fully, and use a shutter speed of at least half a second. And focus on infinity.
Here's a still taken with the Panasonic SD900 video camera 2 nights ago, handheld, half second exposure.
Not impressive, I know.
Now with Levels changed in Gimp ('free photoshop')
Still not impressive but at least it's there. Threshold makes it clearer
Give it a go!
I'm cursed by not being able to sleep past 5 in the morning most days, but at least it means I get to see the best of the day, and through the marvel of the Internet, I can share it here.
This was the view out of the bedroom window at 5.30 this morning. Can you spot the Moon?
This is the closest I've seen the Moon to the rising Sun.
Here's the vid, accompanied by the Dawn Chorus (Filmed at 30-50X zoom)
I just got this message from Nick:
Why is the Moon so orange right now?
I thought for a moment that his "orange Moon" experience was similiar to his recent "pink elephant experience" (s) if you know I'm saying... but I went outside and checked anyway, and the Moon is indeed orange!
Luckily I've got my 500mm Ultratelephoto lens to capture the magic.
Apart from cropping, this is straight out of the camera:
What's going on? Well it's the same explanation as to why the Sun appears orange at sunrise and sunset, namely, when it's low on the horizon the light has to travel through more air, which scatters the short wavelength blue end of the spectrum leaving the long wavelength red end:
I'm thinking of making Nick the official 4AoS Moon-Man. He alerted me to the fact that the biggest Moon for 18 was showing well (yesterday's post) and now he's just texted to say that it's turned a funny colour, and By Golly he's right:
Also notice how the shadows are forming on the upper right side, compared to the upper left side last night:
I wasn't going to blog this on the assumption, based on bitter experience, that whenever 4AoS announces an upcoming astronomical phenomenon, the clouds roll in. Nick just texted me to say that the biggest Moon for 18 years IS showing itself, so I rushed out and snapped this with the Nikon and the 500mm lens.
What a whopper!
And close up: Notice that you can still see a little shadow at the top left. A truly full moon isn't possible because if the light from the sun was falling 100% perpendicular to the surface as we see it, that would mean that the Earth would be between the Sun and the Moon, which would give us a Lunar eclipse.
The bright "blob" at the lower right side it the crater Tycho, one of the few crater visible with the naked eye. Here's m'photo of it a couple of weeks age: (lower centre)
Full story on what's happening:
Ps. My sister-in-law asked me if there was any possible link between "Supermoon" phenomena and Earthquakes. At the time I said absolutely not. This is the view of most scientists but some disagree, especially Dr Victor Gostin:
Asteroids are chunks of rock and metal left over from the creation of the Solar System. There are millions of them and most are in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter:
Most of them are very faint and I've never seen one before, which was why I was very annoyed to read in the January issue of Astronomy that a 67 mile wide asteroid called 37 Fides is at this moment flying through the Pleiades cluster (also know as M45 and The Seven Sisters cluster). At magnitude 10.4 it's at least 100 times too dim to be seen with the naked eye, but my 10" scope shouldn't have any difficulty picking it up but the skies are cloudy and are predicted to stay the same for the coming week.
But wait... I took some stacked images of The Paleiades the other week, using the piggybacking technique with the 500mm telephoto lens (see previous post)
Is it possible I photographed Asteroid 37 Fides by accident?
It was on the 8th January so according to the chart it should be above and to the right of a fairly bright star. I went back to the original stack and...
comparing it to the chart:
There is indeed a bright spot in exactly the right place!
But as an aspiring boffin, I knew I couldn't publish my results without further investigation so I went to http://www.sky-map.org/ and zoomed in on the top area of M45. (It takes very long exposures to reveal the nebulosity like this.)
Closing in on the exact section and comparing it with a close up of my photo, you can see that the 3 stars (a) are clearly visible in both images but (b) is only visible in my image, even though it is roughly the same magnitude as the (a) stars.
It would be nice to identify the even fainter star (c) which would then "pin down" (b) with even more certainty. It's not visible in the image but if the levels are boosted in Photoshop, it just makes an appearance. Along with similar magnitude stars at (d) this confirms beyond any doubt that (b) really is the asteroid.
And here's the colour-corrected version, rotated to match the postion of the sky through the scope, along with hints of the nebulosity showing:
Interesting to ponder that every point here is a star producing its own light, except for the asteroid which is only visible due to the refected light of our own star, the Sun.
There are no images of 37 Fides showing it as anything other than a point of light, but it's too small to have pulled itself into a spherical shape so it probably looks something like this one, 253 Mathilde
Now I'd like to try for other asteroids and minor planets.