Thursday, January 29, 2015

New moon setting timelapse

One of my hobbies is to spot the new moon as early as possible. Seeing the moon and setting the months in accordance to the new moon setting has an important role in the old Hebrew calendar. The current Hebrew calendar is based on calculations so the beginning of a new month can drift a day or two from the actual day that the new moon is seen from Israel.
This month, the new moon was at 21/1/2015. I was able to see the moon about 15 minutes after sunset. It depends on the moon age (26 hours in this case) and its location and of course the observer location. The moon was about 5 degrees north of the ecliptic which means that it could be seen in the sky more than a hour after sunset. this was an easy moon to spot but seeing it while there is still light is still a challenge. Venus however is so bright that it was easy to see it even before sunset. This is no wonder since you can see Venus during the day easily.
So here are just a few pictures before we are going to talk about timelapses.

The first moon is from 17:17 and it may take a while to find the thin crescent of the moon.

The new moon
The new moon (you will see it when you enlarge the photo - just click over it)
After some minutes it is darker and Venus is clearly visible and also Mercury almost at the same line of the moon and to its left.
The new moon Venus and Mercury
The new moon Venus and Mercury

The new moon Venus and Mercury
The new moon Venus and Mercury
If you enlarge the next photo you will see some red light from a passing airplane over the moon.
The new moon Venus and Mercury
The new moon Venus and Mercury

I am getting addicted to timelapses. They are fun to plan, easy to carry out and looks so charming. You don't need fancy equipment. You can do them with your smartphone as well. I am using a Canon700d for the timelapses. I used an intervalometer which enables me to see the number of photos I want and the time between each photo. If you use a smartphone there are bunch of software which will do that for you, but you will probably needs an external power source. also a tripod adapter is necessary for best results (You can buy them for few bucks in china, the intervalometer as well). I will write a longer article about timelapses in the future.

This time I thought that a photo every 2 seconds will be OK. I changed the photo resolution to a moderate size (there is no need for 24M files for an HD video), and let it work for 80 minutes. I had 2400 photos and used the freeware "virtual dub" to create the following timelapse. make sure to watch it on a full screen and in HD resolution (you might need to open it in YouTube site  for it)

The video starts from the first time I saw the moon until Venus sets. As it gets darker more stars become visible.
So what's next? Next month 19-22 February, Venus and Mars will be very close in the sky. In the 20th, the new moon will also be there for US observers (I will miss that :-( ), so check up your gear, see if you need a larger memory card, get your intervalometer or suitable APP, do some tests and try to take your own great timelapse.