Monday, April 18, 2016

Use Orion to see Mercury

Mercury is an elusive planet. It is small, dim and most of the time to close to the sun to be seen at all. Yet , during its greatest elongation it is far enough from the Sun. In this period Mercury can is easy to spot after sunset or before sunrise.. Today 18-Apr-2016 Mercury is in greatest western elongation meaning it is easy to watch.
It is even easier as you can use the famous constellation Orion to help you find Mercury. Just continue the straight line from Orion's belt and go almost to the horizon and you will see Mercury. Actually Mercury is brighter than any of Orion's belt stars so you might be able to see it even before. Start watching about 45 minutes after sunset and look about 15 degrees up from the place the sun set. There is no other bright star in this area so when you finally see the white dot, it is mercury. And if you own a telescope try to observe Mercury and see its tiny but noticeable phase.
Here are some photos I took tonight to guide you
The first one is without annotations:

Orion and Mercury
Orion and Mercury
And here are annotations. Do not confuse the airplane with Mercury.
Orion and Mercury

 And if we mentioned an airplane here are some more airplanes (Looks like the IAF is practicing for Independence day)
And a bird on the background of the moon (From 17-Apr-2016)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hazy Sunset

Astronomers don't like haze. It is bad. But even haze has it benefits and sometimes you can clearly see the sun through the haze without the need of filters which are otherwise a must. During sunset and the right amount of haze you might even be able to see sunspots with the naked eye as was the case today with sunspot AR2529. Also the swallows in the sky flew beyond it to create interesting photos And a nice video to start with

But let's o back to the beginning. Here is a general photo of the sun. The haze makes the skies brown and yellow, quite eek, and the sun itself much dimmer than it should be.
The sun in the haze
The sun in the haze
More zoom toward the sun but the exposure is wrong. However the small flock of birds make this photo special and the sunspot can be seen,.

The sun and birds
The sun and birds
A proper exposure will show some details of the sunspot and the birds are over the sun.
Sunspot and birds
Sunspot and birds

The dark region of sunspot AR2529 is 20,000KM in diameter
Sunspot AR2529
Sunspot AR2529

The power cords also gives an interesting photo
The sun and power-cords
The sun and power-cords


Few minutes later the haze is so bad that the sun fades long before actual sunset.
Hazy sun
Hazy sun


And the new moon for dessert.

The new moon 10-Apr-2016
The new moon 10-Apr-2016




Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Carnival of Space #452

Hello and welcome to Carnival of Space #452. I hoped to report about seeing Venus occultation today but the weather was not good , the skies were cloudy and hazy so I was not able to see it myself. Lets go straight to this week articles.


From Planetria:
From Examiner.com:
From Chandra:
From LPI:
From ADSABS:
  • ADS Enhanced was a great April Fools Day site from the NASA Astrophysical Data Service. ADS Dating (sort potential mates...by citation!)
From Planetry.org:
From Ryan Marciniak:
From Universe Today:


That's All! Happy week and clear skies!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

ISS from the ground

Fresh photo of the ISS from the ground from 20-Apr-2016 (Change your angle to the monitor to view a bit better if necessary)

ISS from ground 20-Apr-2016
ISS from ground 20-Apr-2016
It is no secret that I like to photograph the ISS. Usually I concentrate in a single constellation and try to capture most of it with the bright line of the ISS. Such photos requires long exposure of 20-30 seconds. This is a recent example, Can you name the constellation?
ISS pass 30/3/2016
ISS pass 30/3/2016
Such photos are not rare. Taking them from dark places (not like the one above) will show much more details including some DSOs. Even in the above photo there are some nice open clusters. Also to compensate for earth rotation a simple tracker can be used. Here you can read more about how to photograph stars and constellations

I also tried to capture the ISS itself with my Nikon P900 which its main feature is the almost ridiculous zoom size which is equivalent to 2000mm. Setting the camera to high ISO, fast shutter and considering that the ISS is directly lit gives reasonable exposure. I will wait for a better pass when the ISS is almost directly above the head, and much closer to the observer. The general shape of the ISS is noticeable and this is an example that sometimes a thumbnails looks better.
BTW: The constellation is Auriga and the bright star at the bottom right is Capella