Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The ISS crosses the moon

On Sunday 28/12/2014 I finally managed to photograph the ISS crossing the moon. The timing and location must be very accurate. The moon is only half a degree in the sky and the time it takes the ISS to pass over the moon is less than a second. Here is the video. The details and explanation will follow. Make sure to watch the video in full screen mode with 1080HD resolution.

I wrote a general article in the past about how to use the Heaves-Above (HA) site to find when the ISS is passing over you and how you can spot and see the ISS. For this pass I saw that the path is very near the moon and even crossing it, but accuracy is very important. The moon is not that far from Earth even a change of 1km in the observer's location will give a slightly different path which can miss the moon.

The ISS and the moon just after the pass
The ISS and the moon just after the pass
When I checked the details of this path I first got the following map. The map looks very promising, the ISS is crossing the moon right from my house. Home sweet home. I can arrange all the equipment on my roof in peace and have a nice hot cup of coffee.
Usually when I check in which constellation the ISS passes it is enough but for the moon you should press the map to get a larger resolution which is better. And in that map, we can see that the ISS is NOT crossing the moon., What a shame. But not all is lost.

What I did was to go to the site settings and switch my location to many small towns nearby. With some trial and error I found out that I need to be some 6km south from my house in a small village named Ganot. Not a problem (You can use CalSky site to get email notifications on close passes). Still I was not sure if HA is accurate enough and if the ISS will actually pass over or just very near to the moon.

I used 3 different cameras. Canon SX50 which has a very large zoom (1200mm equivalent) for the closeup, Canon 700d with 18-250 (@250) for the first video and also a Sony DSLR for still photos with long exposure.

The setup of all camera took about 20 minutes and as I was very busy with it I hardly saw the pass itself with my eyes so I was not sure whether it passed over the moon. I took some more photos at the end of the pass. Here is the ISS in the constellation Cetus (The whale)
The ISS in Cetus
The ISS in Cetus
The pass was over and I was very excited to see what I got on the videos. I played the videos on the small cameras' screens and was very happy to see a tiny dot on both videos, but even than I couldn't be sure that it is good or that the focus is OK and so I drove back home and immediately went to the computer to look what is in the videos.
The results were edited into the video in the beginning of this post with the OpenShot software.

A pass on the moon is quite rare and if you attempt to photograph one use either video with the highest fps you can (My video is with 30fps 60 and more are better) or use high burst of single photos. Better to use several cameras and try different setups.
Here are some more of my best videos

If you read hebrew here are links to my other sites:
Books review (Hebrew)
Astronomy and scinene
The Weekly Parasha

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Carnival of Space #384

Hello all! It is the holidays season, here in Israel we are celebrating Hanukkah and all over the world is X-mas and New year just soon! Best wishes for all of you my fellows. Hope you are all well and having great time.

Great things happen in space just as usual and without any further delay let's move on to the #384 edition of Carnival of Space

I am doing quite well with 3 dimensions, I can think about the 4th, but a A Universe of 10 Dimensions? Well, yes according to Universe Today which sends us the story of A Martian Blue Snake, Brought To You By Canadians And A Spacecraft as well. Mysterious? Just follow the link and see.

First findings from Rosetta: Rosetta mission results point to a non-cometary origin for Earth's water. (Space Writer) Great to know that the mission already gives important scientific data. 

EveryDaySpacer wants us to be happy so she offers From now until December 24, 2014, you have a chance to win The Year in Space Wall Calendar 2015. Way to go!! Thanks! 

And some more stories from NextBig Future:
 And from the Meridian Journal we hear about Curiosity finds new evidence Gale crater was once a large lake

I will finish with just a photo of sundials stamps which were issued TODAY in Israel, I was a consultant for this series and I will share the whole story soon, so far just enjoy the first day envelope with 3 great sundials from Israel (Here is an article about many sundials in Israel)

Sundials in Israel - First day envelope
Sundials in Israel - First day envelope

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sundials in Salzburg

Probably when you head the word "Salzburg" you will either think about Mozart or the film "the sounds of Music", but will all due respect to those subject I looked for other things in this beautiful city, and mainly for sundials (And see my article about sundials in Israel as well).
Sundials are not very practical in Salzburg where the sun is mostly behind clouds, so most of them are used for aesthetic and artistic purposes. I found five different sundials in my last visit and If you know about mores, please add a comment.

The first sundial is in St Peter's abbey

Sundial in Salzburg
Sundial in Salzburg

The two following are in the yard of Hohensalzburg (Salzburg's castle). The first one is showing the hour only in the morning.

Sundial in Salzburg
Sundial in Salzburg

Sundial in Salzburg
Sundial in Salzburg
Back to the city, these two clock are near each other in the area surrendering Mozartplatz. The sun went out of the clouds for about twenty minutes which was enough to photograph both sundials with a shadow which shows the hour.
Sundial in Salzburg
Sundial in Salzburg

Sundial in Salzburg
Sundial in Salzburg

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Carnival of Space #370

Hi all! Here is a new edition of COS for you all to enjoy. Amazing things happen in the heavens above us all the time, so relax and find out a little about the newest stuff

From NextBigFuture

  • Aquarius a nuclear thermal rocket that uses water heated to over 3000 degrees celsius to solve many human interplanetary transportation issues.Attributes of a reusable interplanetary human spaceflight transport are proposed and applied to example transits between the Earth/Moon system and Deimos, the outer moon of Mars. Because the transport is 54% water by mass at an interplanetary departure, it is christened Aquarius. In addition to supporting crew hydration/hygiene, water aboard Aquarius serves as propellant and as enhanced crew habitat radiation shielding during interplanetary transit. Key infrastructure and technology supporting Aquarius operations include pre-emplaced consumables and subsurface habitat at Deimos with crew radiation shielding equivalent to sea level on Earth, resupply in a selenocentric distant retrograde orbit, and nuclear thermal propulsion.

    Advancing in-space nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) technology to the point where fission reactor core temperatures exceeding 3000° C can be achieved during major translational maneuvers (burns). Under these conditions, water molecules pumped into the core will disassociate into hydrogen and oxygen atoms, and specific impulse ISP near 1000 s could be achieved. This level of efficiency, twice that attainable with chemical propulsion, dramatically reduces total mass for an interplanetary transport of specified payload mass.
  • An overview about SpaceX company
From Urban Astronomer 
From The Meridian Journal
 From UniverseToday
From CosmosQuest
That's everything for this week, enjoy reading and remember that we are all sharing the same skies!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DSN celebrates fifty!

It really doesn't matter how good your spaceship is, where it is going or which great photos it took, if that information will not reach back to Earth, the entire effort will be in vain.
One of the greatest things that NASA did, if not the biggest wonder, is the Deep Space Network (DSN) which celebrates its fiftieth birthday.
The DSN is a marvelous engineering piece of work supporting spacecrafts as old as fifty with all different kinds of communications methods, bandwidths and protocols. The network supports  mission of close and extremely far from earth up to 19 Billion kilometers, as well as connecting with other networks which supports Low earth orbits satellites.
The network is the heart of all NASA's operations and one of the most critical assets of the planetary research.

The network has three bases spread over the entire globe. One center is in California, the second is in Spain and the third is in Australia. In those centers there are many dishes. The biggest ones are 70m in diameter and are used to receive the weak signals from Voyager 1 missions. It takes 18 hours to the signal to reach Earth. The download speed is awfully low, just 120 bits (yes bits, not Mbits) per second. In the beginning of Voyager mission and when it was closer to Earth the speed was much higher but the far distance and the need to conserve energy slowed it down.

אנטנת 70 מטר, גולדסטון קליפורניה
The 70 meter dish at Goldston California
But Voyager is not the only mission in the solar system. There are dozens of other missions and all need their communication time-slots. Each mission has different protocol, bands, frequencies and the antennas must be pointed very accurately. Managing the operation is a 24 hours job and not an easy one.
The network starts to work from a distance of 15000km from Earth. A spacecraft in this distance will always "see" at least one of the network's bases. The ISS and other satellites use different network system.
The antenna are always working and although they need maintenance there is currently no plan to do it. Such activities will bring down its networking abilities for long time and will prevent the normal operations of the missions. Keeping the DSN up and running is a major challenge for NASA in the coming years.

To celebrate the 50th birthday of the networks, NASA created a site -DSN Now- which will show you which antenna is "speaking" with which spaceship. I got addicted.

NASA's DSN site

Monday, May 12, 2014

Carnival of Space #353

Welcome to a new edition of COS, number #353, with many articles by our community. A great list of articles dealing with astronauts, stars, planets, moon, comets, asteroids, spaceship, space's history rockets and space's business. There is no way that you will not find good material reading here.

Astroswanny investigates approaching Asteroid 2014 HQ124 discovered two weeks ago by the NEOWISE survey. Currently visible to only southern telescopes in the pre-dawn sky, 2014 HQ124 will make a 3.2 Lunar Distance close approach on June 8th. This is quite close for a large newly discovered asteroid whose size is between 300-500m.

Urban Astronomer takes us to  Titan - the largest moon of Saturn, which is an enigmatic little world. It has earth-like weather, rivers and seas, yet has an average temperature more than a hundred degrees below the coldest weather ever measured on Earth. The more planetary scientists learn about it, the more questions come to light.

Two articles from Universe Today:
  •  Are we ready for contact - Nero-psychologist Gabriel G. de la Torre from the University of Cádiz is questioning whether or not astronomers, who have previously only looked for signs of extraterrestrial life, should actively send messages from Earth.
  • While no one’s yet invented a replicator that can brew a cup of tea out of thin air, scientists have taken in step in that direction by creating an amazing replica of a Martian meteorite using a 3D printer .
 Chandra also sends us two stories
 And the two items of CosmoQuest
  • Planets in the sky (All naked eye are visible) - Go out and look up! Enjoy the planetary offerings in the night sky right now as the weather gets nicer. 
  •  On the Educators' Zone, we're collecting ideas for crafty and artsy space and science projects. Have some in mind, please share! And visit our new collaborative Pinterest board to browse more ideas. 
 Don't miss Space-io9 a recently new member of CoS! Welcome!
From the Meridian Journal desk
NextBigFuture with latest breaking news
  •  The Spacex Falcon 9R rocket rose to a height of 3280 feet (1000 meters) in its latest test, posted on May 1st, 2014. The legs were in a fixed down position from launch to landing, but future tests will begin with them stowed.
  •  Planetary Resources has shifted the company's focus to a more mundane space resource: water. Water found on or near asteroids, their theory goes, could be processed into fuel to extend the useful lives of aging commercial satellites.
  •  Planetary Resources co-founders discuss the space mining companies plans and progress

That's all for this week, enjoy and don't forget to browse a bit in my own site .

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to photograph stars and constellations

This article will focus on tips and techniques to photograph stars and constellations using a regular camera and tripod. No telescope is required and even a simple camera will be sufficient.

The first difficulty that a photographer encounters is familiarizing himself with the night skies. It is better to begin with photographing well known constellations such as the big dipper, Orion and also to use free software such as "Stellarium" or "Google sky map" to become more familiar with the skies.

Photographing constellations is not a hard task. A telescope is not required and even a long zoom is not required since the constellations are wide. However a tripod is a must to perform long exposures. Here are some tips and techniques for constellations photography:
  • A tripod is a must have. If you are using a small camera even a small tripod will do, but you can't photograph stars without it
  • Photograph from the darkest place that is available to you. Many cities suffer from light pollution which will make the constellation background bright or even white
  • Usually you will not see the entire constellations with your eyes or on the small LCD screen of the camera but just the brightest stars. Use a wide focal length (no zoom) to include everything in the photo and crop later if necessary. Also you can take some test shots until you create the proper composition. For the test shot raise the ISO to 3200/6400. You don't care about noise and it will save lots of time.
  • Perform many tests and check the photos on a computer or laptop screen. It is impossible to see the photos properly on the camera LCD screen.
  • If possible, add some terrestrial landscape to the photo. Trees, mountains and building will give an extra touch to the photo. However take into account that light pollution is more severe in the lower part of the sky, so you will need to compromise.
  • The earth is rotating around its axis and in a long exposure the stars will create trails. Use bigger aperture (Lower F number) and raise the ISO definition to decrease the exposure time. If you like star trails, go ahead and photograph them. Too high ISO value will create more noise in the photo so don't raise it too much, usually 400 is a good value.
  • As a rule of thumb divide 500 by the focal length of the lens to estimate the longer possible exposure before the stars will make small trails.
  • Use manual focus and focus on a bright star that you see, even in a different constellation and even in a larger focal length (zoom). If you can't find a star use infinity.
  • Some people like to add tiny thin lines to the final photos. These lines will emphasize the constellations familiar shape. I do not like to add these lines as you will see in the examples below, but it is a matter of personal taste.
  • To prevent shakes from the cameras either use a remote control or shutter release. If you do not have these tools, just add a short delay 2-10 seconds to the photo. This feature is available on all cameras and is mostly used for selfies.
  • Use the Noise-Reduction feature in your camera. Usually it is turned on by default for long exposure. Using NR will take longer so there are times you can take a single dark photo (long exposure with the lens cap on) and do the NR in software later, but for most amateur it will be best to do it upfront immediately and automatically.
Another problem is uploading the photos to the Internet, since many sites compress them during the upload process. These kind of photos, with lots of black areas and just few white dots, are not compressed very well. If you have your own website, you can upload the photos to there, otherwise a service like imgur can provide a reasonable solution. Also PNG format will give better results from the JPEG format for sites like Facebook.

And now for several examples, all taken with an old  Sony Alpha 100 DSLR with 28-105mm lens, usually at the wide side. You will need to click the photos to see a larger image.

The first photo is the well known constellation - Canis Major - the great dog. Notice the difference between the black at the top of the photo and the brown at the bottom, due to the light pollution. Also a high ISO value was used and the photo has a lot of noise.

Canis Major - Great Dog
Canis Major - Great Dog
Perseus constellation
Perseus constellation
Here is the famous group Orion, Usually known for the trapezoid but includes many more stars above and to the right.
The entire Orion constellation
The entire Orion constellation
Sometime it is better to focus on part of the constellation. The following example shows the Pleiades (M45) and the Hyades in Taurus (The Bull). The brightest star is Aldebaran.
Pleiades (M45) and the Hyades in Taurus (The Bull)
Pleiades (M45) and the Hyades in Taurus (The Bull)

For a more advanced photographer, the skies are the limit (just as usual). Here are some more ideas which require time and investment just to give you a taste of the possibilities.
  • A tracking device will enable longer exposure without smudging the stars. A very affordable tracking device is the iOptron SkyTracker.You simply aim it at the north star and connect the camera to it. Such a device will enable long exposure as long as your camera supports.
  • There are special blocking filters which can somewhat improve light pollution, but do not expect miracles, go to a darker place.
  • Larger zoom lens can be used to photograph smaller objects. Such objects will be detailed in a separate article but as a taste here are the Pleiades taken with a simple Canon SX50 camera in just 1 sec of exposure. The mini dipper shape (which can be seen with the naked eye) is visible with dozens of additional stars.
הפלאידות - צביר בקבוצת שור, מכונה גם M45
M45 - Pleiades

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New moon timelapse

Sometimes seeing the new moon is not that hard. When the moon is far enough from the sun (30hours old), It stays long in the sky after sunset. Seeing the moon at or even before sunset is still hard, but twenty minutes later it will be very easy to spot it.
So was the new moon of April 30th 2014. I first saw it from Israel at 19:18 just a little before local sunset, and I immediately took photos. It was hard to focus since the moon was very faint. The difference between proper focus and improper are noticeable. Also if you search for the new moon with a binoculars, the focus is critical otherwise the thin crescent will not be seen

Out of focus new moon
Out of focus new moon

New moon in focus
New moon in focus
Even in a new moon, you can notice the red moon phenomena, but not as easy as with a full moon. The reasons are the same but since the moon is so thin, it will not be possible to see it in the eye at all some minutes before moonset. However a long exposure with the camera caught that photo at 20:30 just seconds before the moon disappeared behind the buildings (moonset was at 20:36)
ירח חדש בשקיעה
ירח חדש בשקיעה
I also photographed many photos to create a time-lapse of 1 hour in just 30 seconds. The interval between photos is about 20seconds. Watch on full screen with HD quality and enjoy.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Sunspots are fascinating if you know how to watch and study them. Fortunately, you can observe and photograph sunspots safely with simple equipment and affordable accessories.
Here is a nice video

What are sunspots?
Sunspots are cooler areas on the sun surface. They are not really cool, just 500-600 degrees cooler than their environment. Sunspots emit less radiation and this is the reason why they look black on the surface of the sun. The sunspots by themselves are still many times brighter than the full moon. The reason why and when sunspots are formed on the sun is not clear yet but it is related to high electromagnetic energy activity. Sunspot regions are very active and can send strong CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) to space. If such CME is in the direction of earth, there might be noticeable events such as the polar auroras and interferences to the electricity network.

Every observation of the sun requires special  protecting equipment. Direct watching of the sun is very dangerous and can lead to blindness. Do not use old films, black glasses and their like. Only dedicated protecting filters are allowed. The writer takes no responsibility for any viewing of the sun.

History of sunspot observations
The first person to observe sunspots was Galileo Galilee. Although it is possible to see large sunspots with the naked eye during sunsets, we have no documentation of anyone in the ancient times noticing them. Galileo looked through his telescope (and without giving proper notice to the safety guidelines, thus becoming blind at the end of his life) and saw the spots. The previously perfect sun became imperfect which was another low to the old Greek opinion that all celestial orbs are perfect. Galileo noticed that each day the spots look a bit different and also that they are moving on the sun. In a long series of drawings from 1613 he proved and demonstrated that the sun revolves around its axis. Here is an example of Galileo's drawings, you can see many more drawing in the Galileo project site.  

Galileo's drawing of sunspots 1613
Galileo's drawing of sunspots 1613

Observing sunspots  with solar eclipse glasses
The most basic equipment are solar eclipse glasses. These glasses have a little solar filter film and it is safe to watch the sun with them. However most sunspots are too small and only big spots will be seen. Seeing the spots requires an optical device such as telescope, binoculars or long zoom camera.
Please notice that any solar filter must be in front of the first optical element. It is extremely dangerous to use solar eclipse glasses and then look through binoculars. The filters are not adequate for such use. The binoculars intensify the amount of the radiation and the filter will burn.

Creating a homemade solar filter
To view the sunspots through an optical device, a solar filter is required. A glass filter can be quite expensive, but there is a way to create a filter very easily. You need to buy a proper solar filter sheet (A4 size or whatever suits your need). You can make many filters from a single sheet for your camera, binoculars and so on. Looking through the filter you will see nothing except for very hot objects such as a tungsten light bulb.
Today there a DSLR-alike camera with 24x 30x or even 50x zoom lens which are very good for simple astro-photography. You can cut a square piece of kappa foam, make a circular hole in the diameter of your lens and stick a filter all over it. This will give you a proper solar filter. Make sure that the filter is firmly attached to the camera or binoculars and can't fall from it before use.
You will also need a tripod. Small cameras are not heavy and even a simple tripod will be good enough for most purposes.

Tungsten wire through solar filter
Tungsten wire through solar filter
I am using a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS for sunspots photography. It is a small and affordable DSLR like camera with 50x zoom (1200mm equivalent). The camera is not very expensive and this is how it looks with the solar filter attached.

The camera with the dedicated sun filter
The camera with the dedicated sun filter

Some more safety rules
When observing the sun with such filter observe the following rules.
  • Always make sure that the filter is attached firmly. 
  • Make sure that no one tries to touch or check the filter.
  • If you have to leave the area, do not keep the telescope aimed at the sun. Aim it the ground and cover the lens with the plastic cap. 
  • Check that the filter is not scratched or torn before each use.

How to photograph sunspots
Photographing the spots is simple:
  • Put the filter on the camera and aim to the sun. 
  • Use the maximum zoom that the camera has (20x and up) but do not use digital zoom.
  • Set the camera focus to manual at infinity
  • Set camera ISO to value between 100 and 400. 
  • Use the largest aperture possible to enable a shorter shutter speed. 
  • Use a tripod even at faster shutter speed. 
  • Set the light-meter to spot mode. Most of the frame is completely dark and average light metering will yield wrong results.
  • Experiment with the shutter release setting. Usually a little overexposure (+2/3) will improve the photo
  • Use a delay to eliminate "camera shakes" from pressing the camera button
The best hour for sunspots photography is around local noon. The sun is at its highest point in the sky and that can improve the quality of the photo. Due to the Earth rotating around its axis, the spots will change their place in the sun disc during the day. To see this just take photographs at the morning, noon and evening of the same day.
However the spots has a real movement on the sun disc, since the sun revolves around its axis once in 25-35 days. The sun is made of gas so its rotation speed is not the same in different latitudes. The slowest rotation is around the poles and the fastest around the equator. For this reason if you take a photo on the same hour for several consecutive days you will see the movement of the spots as the sun rotate. Try to compare your photos to professional photos such as in the Space-weather site.
Viewing and photographing sunspots is great fun for me. When there are large spots I usually take solar eclipse glasses and show other people what's happening on the sun. Many people, old and young are interested to see the sunspots.

Here are several photos from consecutive dates (almost). I tried to rotate the photos so they will be in the same alignment. The movement of the spots is clear. The sun is very dynamic. New spots are forming, old spots are decaying, and no day is the same. Even without dedicated solar scope, one can see the changing face of the sun.

Sunspots  14/02/2014
Sunspots 14/02/2014
The spots start to disappear behind the sun limb
Sunspots  16/02/2014
Sunspots  16/02/2014

Sunspots  17/02/2014
Sunspots  17/02/2014
 Most sunspots disappeared but other are coming out from the left
Sunspots  18/02/2014
Sunspots  18/02/2014

Sunspots  20/02/2014
Sunspots  20/02/2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Moon Venus conjunction

What a marvelous moon Venus conjunction! The early bird gets the best photos. The moon rose at 3:30 and Venus just 7 minutes after it. I got up at 4:40am to see this marvelous view from my roof. I am using a Canon HS50 for this photos. It is a simple camera and very affordable with a huge x50 zoom which looks like a telescope. No telescope is required.
Since the moon moves quite fast, Venus is already in the same height as the moon, and in few hours Venus will be above the moon.
It will be possible to see both during he daylight hours as well, check the article about how to see Venus in daylight. Also notice the gibbous shape of Venus which has phases just like the moon.

Moon and Venus conjunction
Moon and Venus conjunction
About one hour later, already dawn the moon is even nearer. See the difference in this photo
Moon and Venus conjunction
Moon and Venus conjunction

And another one shortly after with much more daylight
Moon and Venus conjunction
Moon and Venus conjunction

Also in the early hours sky are Mars in Virgo and Saturn in Libra. We are at the end of the Winter and the entire Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb and Al-tair is already up

The summer Triangle. Vega (up) Deneb (Left) and Altair (Right)
The summer Triangle. Vega (up) Deneb (Left) and Altair (Right)
And a scene photo in wide area with all the morning clouds. The tiny dot just above the moon is not dust, it is Venus!
Moon and Venus conjunction
Moon and Venus conjunction

Great naked eye observations!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Astro photos are easy

Astro-photography doesn't require expensive equipment. These photos all taken in a single day using an OLD Sony alpha DSLR (The ISS pass) and a relatively new Canon HS50 which has a great zoom. The only really must equipment is a sturdy tripod which will enable you to stable the camera for long star exposures.

 The sunspots photo requires a solar filter, and it is dangerous not to use one. Here is a detailed article about how to photograph sunspots

This huge sunspot is AR1967, and I am following it for many days. On February 3 2014 it was almost in the middle of the sun

Sunspot AR1967
Sunspot AR1967
 The next photos are from the sunset and the sunspots are seen easily
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
The perfect round is a swanning ball on a high voltage power line, but it remind me the great Venus transit from two years ago.
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset

Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset

Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
The next photo is a great ISS pass in the well known constellation Canis Major (Great dog). The pass was very low and the light pollution is visible. however the entire group is visible and in the full photo I was able to detect the open cluster M41. Also I caught the extinction of the pass and you can clearly see the graduate extinction in the pass color from white to red.
ISS pass in Canis Major
ISS pass in Canis Major

Even f your camera doesn't have much zoom power to get good photos of the moon or the sun, you can still get nice photos of the constellations. You will need to experiment but even 1 second of exposure will show many stars. If you are in a rural area you can take longer exposures. Be aware that the longer the exposure time, the stars will create small trails as the Earth keep rotating around its axis. Also notice that it might be hard to see stars on the camera small LCD and you might need the help of a laptop to compose the photo. Also try to use manual focus and set it to infinity.
Here is Orion Constellation
Orion Constellation
Orion Constellation
And Orion constellation with the ISS. This is a 20sec shot and the light pollution is clearly visible.

The ISS in Orion
The ISS in Orion
And finally the moon
The moon
The moon
Conclusions: Even with simple equipment there is plenty to do! Good luck

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Carnival of Space #339

Hi all and welcome aboard the 339th edition of Carnival of Space. We will start this edition by honoring the 17 astronauts who have given their life to the American space program. On January 27 1967 during a training for the first Apollo mission, less than a month before the planned launch, a fire in the crew cabin took the life of  Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee. The challenger disaster occurred on January 28 1986 just 73 seconds after launch, taking the lives of Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Greg Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe. On February 1 2003 the Columbia disaster at the end of STS-107 mission, and in which Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David M. Brown, Laurel Clark and the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon died.
Dedicate a few moments in memory of these men and women in the official NASA day of  remembrance page.

Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia Astronauts. Credit: NASA

Back again to this week articles. We will start with our closest neighbor, the moon.
Dr. Paul Spudis shares his memories and knowledge as one of the investigators and researchers in Clementine missions. A comprehensive article about the mission can be found in Dr Spudis's blog. A summarized version can be found in Air&Space magazine.

The next item from CosmoQuest shows that even spaceships, orbiters, landers and such like to have some company from time to time. Read about the latest spacecraft imaging  another spacecraft, LRO take a snap of LADEE.

Another useful article from CosmoQuest. What are some great mobile apps for doing and learning astronomy? Here's a list with a link to our recent Hangout on the subject. I already downloaded few of these great apps.

The Synergy principal is true everywhere and also in space - three are better than one. The Urban Astronomer tells us about the Frontier Fields program - an ambitious attempt to combine the power of NASA's three flagship space telescopes (Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer) to peer deeper into the universe than ever before and learn about the structure of the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang.

From Discovery News we learn about vast rivers of Hydrogen flow into galaxies.

What's new on Mars? Meridian Journal discuss two new photographs from Curiosity: Dingo Gap and the ‘Firepit’.

The last three articles are from NextBigFuture: Elon Musk thinks there are five innovations that will change our lives in the decades ahead:

  • The Internet, an astonishing invention by which people can access knowledge from anywhere.
  • The transition to the sustainable production and consumption of energy.
  • The extension of human life to other planets, depending on how rapidly we progress in developing space transport and how we live - if we manage to survive -- by then.
  • Reading and writing genetic code
  • AI - artificial intelligence.
Make yourself some free time and watch the videos of Elon Musk.

The discovery of water on Ceres arise many more plausible places for astrobiology research: Unlocking the solar system by unlocking water in the asteroids.

And back to the moon on a future missions to find exact location of water on the moon during 2018.

That's all for this, thank to all our contributors and readers. As always hosting the CoS is a pleasure.