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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Moon and Jupiter conjunction

A conjunction between the moon and any planet is a monthly event. Not rare but always a pleasure. This post will be updated with photos and reports about Jupiter and moon conjunctions:

2016-03-22: The moon  is further away from Jupiter but rose just below it giving a chance for interesting compositions:
הירח וצדק 22/3/16
 The moon and Jupiter 22/3/16
הירח וצדק 22/3/16
The moon and Jupiter 22/3/16
הירח וצדק 22/3/16
The moon and Jupiter 22/3/16
הירח וצדק 22/3/16
The moon and Jupiter 22/3/16
Can you see my shadow?



2016-Mar-21
There was a not-so-close conjunction.
I first saw (and photoed) Jupiter about 10 minutes before sunset (17:45 15:45 UT), the distance to the moon was about 5 degrees:
The moon 17:45
The moon 17:45

The moon and faint Jupiter (Bottom left)
The moon and faint Jupiter (Bottom left)
And two other photos from 21:00 am (1900 UT) the distance is shorter, just 4 degree. The moon is the same but the background is completely black adding more contrast
The moon 21:00
The moon 21:00
 This photo is a single exposure. Jupiter is big enouch and bright enough to seen as a small disc with a yellow/orange color (You might need to enlarge the photo). As you can see I manage to capture both of them at the maximum zoom possible.
The moon and faint Jupiter (Bottom left)
The moon and faint Jupiter (Bottom left)
The pair will get closer during the night.

2016-01-27
Less than 2 degrees
2016-01-27 - Moon and Jupiter
2016-01-27 - Moon and Jupiter

Monday, March 14, 2016

Aldebaran Occultation

During the last year (and the one to come) there is an occultation of Aldebaran almost every month. However none of these occultations were visible from Israel. Not until today. Even when we finally can see the occultation, it was during the day, making it impossible to see with the naked eye.
Though let's not panic, Aldebaran is bright enough and can easily be seen with a telescope. The sky was not very clear but as I saw that it was only partially cloudy, I left work early and headed home to setup the telescope.
The first problem was to setup the mount correctly without seeing Polaris. Of course I should have set it up the night before but I was worried it might rain during the night and I didn't want to leave it outside even with a cover. So I "guesstimated" where the north is and hoped for the best, knowing that I would be making manual corrections during the observation.
Positioning the scope was easy. Next, I had to decide how to photograph the reappearance of Alderbaran. I chose a new method, which I had never tried previously, as I was using my brand new Nikon Coolpix P900 with an enormous zoom piggybacked on the scope.
Everything was ready and I just had to wait. I started a video recording and watched through the eyepiece. It was quite windy so the camera shook a little but in the video, you will be able to see the moon and suddenly a bright white dot! Yep - Aldebaran! Seeing it clearly through the eyepiece (in small magnification) was a very spectacular sight indeed.
So who said is it impossible to see stars during the day? BTW, Aldebaran's distance from Earth is 65 light years (the moon is only 1 light second) and its radius is 44 of that of the Sun. A real giant!
First of all here is a photo of my setup:
My telescope and camera
My telescope and camera
Exact setup is: Bresser N130 on EQ6-Pro (For visual) + Nikon P900 piggyback for the photos and videos.

Here is the video and some photos. In the video Aldebaran appears after about 6 seconds position equivalent to 2 o'clock. (make sure that you watch the video in HD on full screen).

You will probably need to enlarge the photo as well. Notice Aldebaran on the bottom right (4 o'clock).
Aldebaran just 4 minutes after reappearance
  Aldebaran just 4 minutes after reappearance

And a photo when it got darker and Aldebaran could be seen with the naked eye
Aldebaran 90 minutes after reappearance
Aldebaran 90 minutes after reappearance