Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Supermoon - Debunking the myth! Facts and photos!

From time to time, you hear news about a big and bright moon that has not been seen in the last ten, twenty, or even a hundred years. Such moons have the nickname, "supermoon". Here are some facts and information about supermoons. All numbers and times relate to the supermoon of November 14,2016.

What is a supermoon?
A supermoon is a term for a full moon that is near perigee. The perigee is the point in the moon's orbit that is closest to earth. The moon is full once a month and also at perigee once a month. From time to time, the moon is both full and near perigee around the same time and the result is a somewhat larger and brighter moon, a.k.a. "supermoon".

What will be the distance to the current supermoon?
The closest distance to the moon varies each month and averages around 357,000 kilometers. The earth's distance from the current supermoon  will be 356,511 kilometers (227,118 miles). This distance is the distance between the earth's and moon's centers. The exact times (UTC) are:
  • Moon at Perigee 13:24 
  • Full Moon 15:54 
  • The moonrise varies for different locations.
Is the change of the moon's size significant?
The difference between a distant moon ( >400,000 km) and a close moon is indeed significant and can reach 40,000 km which are 14% of the distance. This difference has an impact on the apparent size of the moon and 14% is is the number you will probably see in the news; however, I think they should calculate the difference based on the average distance of the moon, which is just half of that.  
The best (and only) way to see that difference is to take two photos and compare them. See the image below for example:

The smallest distance since 1948
Headlines such as "Nearest moon since 1948" are factually correct but are meaningless. As mentioned above the distance is between the earth's and moon's centers. The distance of the moon to a specific observer on earth is different and changes throughout the night as the earth revolves. 
Since 1948, there have been many others supermoons, some of them only 100 km farther than this supermoon. But if an observer on earth sees the moon before or after the exact perigee, this 100 km is negligible to the change due to earth's rotation (which is 6300 km about the same as earth's radii, in just a few hours). Such small changes of 0.1% have no effect on the moon's apparent size. It might be that for a given observer in a given location, there was a nearer moon after 1948.

Why is the moon orange or particularly large when it rises?
The red rising moon is due to the atmosphere and the big rising moon is an illusion. Read more about the large red moon here. Both phenomena are not related to the moon being a supermoon.

Will I see any difference in the size of the moon?
Probably not. If you go out and look at the full moon you, will see that it is very bright. Maybe you'll notice it is brighter than the previous evening's moon, but that is true for every full moon. To see a change in the moon's size, you will have to compare the moon to something. To what? It is more or less the same as the day before and certainly one can't recall how a very far away moon looked several months ago. If you want to compare the difference in the size of the apparent moon, you need patience. Take some pictures, wait patiently for seven months (When then the full moon will be distant) and then take more photos.

What about the brightness of the moon?
The brightness of the moon is a whole new ball game. The moon's apparent size depends only on its distance, but the brightness depends on other factors as well. So if the news reports about the distance are at least credible to some extent, the reports on the brightness are almost always completely wrong.

The two most obvious factors that affect the brightness of the moon are the moon's distance from the earth and also the earth's distance from the sun. As the two of them are the smallest possible, the brightness increases. The earth is close to the sun at the beginning of January, which is part of the reasons why this November's supermoon arrived the news.

Are there more important factors to the brightness of the moon?
Yes, there are more, and the most important of is the phase angle, which relates to the distance of the moon (in degrees) from the ecliptic. The farther the moon, the less bright it will be. For the current supermoon, the moon is more than 5 degrees from the ecliptic so it will not be so bright after all.

When will the moon be the brightest?
Suppose we have a full moon at perigee (closest to earth), we assume that the earth is at perihelion (closest to the sun), and we assume that it is also just on the ecliptic. In this situation, the moon would be at its brightest. But under these conditions, we would be in the middle of a very deep lunar eclipse, which is a great event to observe, but the moon is not seen at all. For this reason, the moon has a theoretical maximum brightness limit, but that limit can never be observed.

When will be the brightest moon that can be observed?
Think again about the conditions in the previous section. The only compromise that can be done is that the moon will not be full, but just a little before or after (a difference of few hours) which means that the moon is as close as possible to earth, the earth is as close as possible to the sun, and the moon is almost full. This is just before or after a full lunar eclipse.

When is the next lunar eclipse with these conditions?
The last supermoon eclipse was January 9,2001, and the next time will be an eclipse on December 12, 2114. The brightest supermoon between 1800-2200 will be on January 3, 2151, when the earth is almost at perihelion. These dates are from the book, "More Astronomical Morsels" by Jean Meeus.

So what is all the fuss about?
As usual, much ado about nothing. But if such news will make people go out and observe the moon, so be it. The full moon and especially the rising of the moon are always an experience. Take a look for yourself in the video attached!

What other things you recommend we observe?
The moon is always interesting to observe. Even a small pair of binoculars will show many details on its surface, which change daily depending on the phase of the moon. Eclipses are always interesting, and conjunctions of the moon and planets or bright stars are interesting. Actually, one day after this supermoon, on November 15, 20161, the moon will cover the star Aldebaran in Taurus. This occultation will be visible to observers in Southeast Asia.

More questions?
Write them in the comments and I'll be happy to answer!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Carnival of Space #482

Hello and welcome to a fresh and exciting "Carnival of Space".

Here are the articles from our contributors:

From Universe Today:
From BlastingNews:

From LinksThroughSpace (This is the 2nd article in a series!):
  • From 2014 to 2016 I visited 2 separate prehistoric rock art sites in Morocco. I went to do a research on a possible connection between astronomy and prehistoric rock art. This article relates my adventure in ancient astronomy. Please read my series of 4 articles on Archaeoastronomy and the prehistoric rock art site that i studied. This is 2/4: Village of Ait Ouazik, Southern Morocco and the village of Oukaimeden, Atlas Mountains, Morocco. 

From Planetaria:
From NextBigFuture
  • The new Long March 5 rocket launched successfully on Thursday. The rocket could be used to support a Chinese space station and send an uncrewed mission to Mars. The new Long March 5 rocket launched successfully from the Wenchang Space Launch Center. The rocket measures 187 feet, making it the largest produced by China. It can carry 25 tons of payload into low-Earth orbit. The rocket carried a satellite that will be used to test a variety of technologies, from observing space debris to electric propulsion.
  • On October 5th 2016, Ranga Dias and Isaac F. Silvera of Lyman Laboratory of Physics, Harvard University released the first experimental evidence that solid metallic hydrogen has been synthesized in the laboratory. It took 495 GPa pressure to create. The sample is being held in the cryostat in liquid nitrogen. Atomic metallic hydrogen, if metastable at ambient pressure and temperature could be used as the most powerful chemical rocket fuel, as the atoms recombine to form molecular hydrogen. This light-weight high-energy density material would revolutionize rocketry, allowing single-stage rockets to enter orbit and chemically fueled rockets to explore our solar system. To transform solid molecular hydrogen to metallic hydrogen requires extreme high pressures.
  • Harvard researchers have studied and observed solid hydrogen under pressure at low temperatures. With increasing pressure we observe changes in the sample, going from transparent, to black, to a reflective metal, the latter studied at a pressure of 495 GPa. They have measured the reflectance as a function of wavelength in the visible spectrum finding values as high as 0.90 from the metallic hydrogen. They have fit the reflectance using a Drude free electron model to determine the plasma frequency of 30.1 eV at T= 5.5 K, with a corresponding electron carrier density of 6.7x10^23 particles/cm3 , consistent with theoretical estimates. The properties are those of a metal. Solid metallic hydrogen has been produced in the laboratory. * they have made some metallic hydrogen and have it in a cryostat in liquid nitrogen * they might leave it under pressure and let it warm to room temperature or they could keep it cold and release the pressure * they are planning to test for high temperature superconductivity
  • The telescope element of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the largest space telescope ever constructed, stands completed in an enormous clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. JWST will now go through a series of rigorous tests, including shaking and noise tests to simulate launch conditions, and cryogenic tests to make sure it can stand up to the frigid conditions of space. This telescope element of JWST includes the optical components and science instruments. After testing, the telescope will be affixed to a sunshield to prevent thermal heating and a spacecraft bus that contains the propulsion and communication systems to complete JWST. Launch is scheduled for October 2018. 
And my own archive article to celebrate the coming winter:

The winter Hexagon
The Winter Hexagon

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The sun still rises

One of the most common of natures phenomena is the sunrise, watched by millions of people throughout history, always pretty and never boring. The Bible mentions sunrise many times and I included several appropriate verses throughout the article.

Ecclesiastes 1:5  The sun still rises, and it still goes down, going wearily back to where it must start all over again.

During this time of year there is a small gap in the buildings surrounding me, which enables a clear view of the sunrise in the east. I cannot see the exact sunrise, as the Samaria mountains block the horizon, but I do manage to see a few minutes after it. The series of photos show how each day the sun moves southward (the movement is actually the Earth movement in its orbit).

Sunday 25-Sep-2016. There were plenty of clouds so seeing the sunrise location was impossible, however, the photos are still nice.

Sunrise 25/9/2016
Sunrise 25/9/2016
Sunrise 25/9/2016
Sunrise 25/9/2016
Genesis 32:31 (ASV) And the sun rose upon him as he passed over Penuel

Monday, September 26th. The hill's name is "Jabel Taruja" where an ancient tomb is located. The hill is about 36km from my location.
Sunrise 26/9/2016
Sunrise 26/9/2016
The palm tree, however, is just 400m from the camera
Sunrise 26/9/2016
Sunrise 26/9/2016
Jonah 4:8 (CEB) Then as the sun rose God provided a dry east wind

Birds are very active in the morning, so at some point they are likely to fly in front of the sun, making a nice photo.

Sunrise 26/9/2016
Sunrise 26/9/2016
Sunrise and a crow
Sunrise and a crow

Deuteronomy 33:2 (GNT) The Lord came from Mount Sinai; he rose like the sun over Edom

Tuesday 27/9/2016 - Notice the change in the sun's location.

Sunrise 27/9/2016
Sunrise 27/9/2016
Here is a video of the sunrise at six times speed:

and here are the last photos as the clouds "swallows" the sun.

Sunrise 27/9/2016
 Sunrise 27/9/2016
Judges 9:33 (KJV) And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early,
2 Kings 3:22 (CJB) They rose early in the morning when the sun was shining on the water.

On Wednesday the sunrise is just to the left of the palm tree
Sunrise 28/9/2016
Sunrise 28/9/2016
2 Samuel 23:4 (NKJV) And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds

But on Thursday 29/9 it is on the tree's right
Sunrise 29/9/2016
Sunrise 29/9/2016
And more birds

Sunrise 29/9/2016
Sunrise 29/9/2016
Malachi 4:2 (CJB) But to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings

Friday 30/9/2016 and the sun continues moving further south.

Sunrise 30/9/2016
Sunrise 30/9/2016

זריחה כ"ז אלול תשע"ו 30/9/2016
Sunrise 30/9/2016
Psalm 104:22 (NKJV) When the sun rises, they gather together And lie down in their dens.

Sunday 2-Oct-2016 marked the last day of the Hebrew year 5776, and what a beautiful sunrise on this day

Sunrise 2/10/2016
Sunrise 2/10/2016
Malachi 1:11 (NKJV) For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles;

To summarize the article, here is a wider photo from 29/9/2016 with added arrows to mark the sunrise locations some days before and after. The changes are considerable.

Sunrise 29/9 with location on nearbydates marked
Sunrise 29/9 with location on nearby dates marked

The apparent movement of the sun in the sky is a combination of two movements: the Earth revolving around its axis is the daily motion of the sun in the sky from sunrise to sunset, and the yearly movement of Earth in its orbit around the sun causing small changes in the sun's location during the seasons. That small change is shown in the series above as every day the sunrise is in a slightly different place.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunset, sheep, airplanes, foxes, planets, and moonrise

Next time you have a free hour just see what you can photograph in it (everything in the post title). I went with my daughter to a nearby park (Shoam park) mainly to photograph the sunset and we discovered many more things

A herd of sheep

Not ideal conditions for sunsets. Lots of clouds and haze so we didn't see the actual sunset but it was still nice and we even saw some large sunspots.

Sunspots are visible in the next photo
While we are looking west to the sun, two curious foxes sneaked from the east. I think they looked for food and were disappointed not finding any. Please do not feed foxes or any other wild animals, and don't leave food behind you. 


a fox asking for food
a fox asking for food

a fox
a fox
If you like the foxes enjoy the vidoe

After the foxes gone I was happy to see Venus in the clouds. I was not able to see Mercury but the camera did (at the top of the photo)
Venus and Mercury in clouds
Venus and Mercury in clouds
Airplanes are coming to land from the west. The airport is 8km and I estimate the airplane to be double that distance when I start to take the video. It was already dark and hot air influence the sharpness. Need to try that again

And the last thing was the rising red moon
Rising red moon
Rising red moon
And in a video
All of that in a single hour! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The ISS flies over the moon

Oops, I did that again! After almost 19 months I was able to take again a video of the ISS passing the moon! (Here is the story of the first time I caught the ISS and the moon).

I am receiving alerts from calsky site about satellites crossing the moon, but I usually ignore them since most of the time it is a very small satellite which requires telescopes and to find the exact place, but this alert was different.

What are the chances to see an ISS pass? Very high, it happens all the time. what are the chances that the ISS will cross the moon? I think that *somewhere* it also happens all the time. But what are the chances that the crossing will happen exactly at your house?? Ohm. Small, rather small.
But improbable things happens all the times and as I got the alert I checked the predictions (see the appendix) and saw that indeed all I need to do is to go outside to my roof.

Even the problematic hour 4:56am did not bother me. I decided for the best configuration for my equipment and made all setups I could the evening before. I set an alarm and went to sleep early.

Getting up at 4:15 the skies are full of clouds, ignored them and continue to setup the system. Clouds come and goes and there is plenty of time, so just hope for the best. I aligned the mount and put my 70mm doublet on it with Canon700d on video mode.

I use a Nikon 900P camera with a mighty zoom on a regular tripod without tracking and an old Canon SX30 for backup. Ten minutes before the pass and everything was entirely cloudy. Five minutes before the pass the sky was clear.

Waiting. Here it is! Above the moon and going down so quick. Fast. Press record here, here and here! make a last alignment for the non-tracked Nikon camera and wait.

I took  a look at the eyefinder to see if it catches the ISS but saw nothing. I looked at the ISS and saw that it already passed the moon. Well maybe the predictions were no that accurate and it missed the moon in a degree that is possible, nothing to do about that. Turn off all recordings, take apart everything I can without making too much noise (5am in the morning) and check what happened on the computer.

Happily, I found out that all three cameras captured the ISS. Most of the pass was on the dark side of the moon and only a fraction of it on the lit side. Here are the results combined into a single view. Please look at it on full screen with HD resolution

I tried to extract a single image from the video but the ISS was too smudged. I think that The Nikon camera went back to its default 30fps and not to the 60fps I set it up before. Always check your setup again, even if you are too tired at 4am! The ISS is the white little line on the dark side of the moon.

The ISS flies over the moon
The ISS flies over the moon

Some hints and tips for the next time
One problem of such videos/photos is that it is hard to practice. The duration of the pass is one second or less. My recommendations for the next time are:
  1. Take the highest FPS you can: 60 120 or even 240 (with iPhone aligned to the eyepiece)
  2. Practice on a regular moon without the ISS
  3. To freeze the ISS use 1/1600 shutter speed
  4. If you have a DSLR with a high zoom lens, use burst mode and don't take video.
  5. Have fun doing all of that! 
Appendix: Check predictions in Heavens-Above
Heavens-Above is a great site to get information about ISS and other passes. Try it out, it is simple and intuitive.
When selecting a pass you see a general map of it. Vawalla! The pass is on the moon!

Heavens-Above prediction of the pass - regaulr
Heavens-Above prediction of the pass - regular

This is not certain tough and you must press the map to get t magnify. If in the magnified map the pass is on the moon, you can start preparing your gear, but take into account that as it implies, these maps are predictions only.

Heavens-Above prediction of the pass - magnified
Heavens-Above prediction of the pass - magnified

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Amazing facts about Jupiter

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, a gas giant of Hydrogen and Helium with some Ammonia in the upper beautiful clouds layer (and small amounts of other things). Juno spacecraft will arrive to Jupiter on the symbolic day of the 240th independence day of the USA and enter into an orbit around it. Here are some interesting facts about Jupiter.

Jupiter - Hubble telescope - NASA
Jupiter - Hubble telescope - NASA
Jupiter is massive
Jupiter is not only big, it is massive as well. You can say that the entire mass of the solar system is divided in the following way. 99% of the mass is the Sun, 2/3% of the mass belongs to Jupiter and all the rest is just 1/3% (This division is not scientifically accurate but is suitable enough for our needs). Jupiter mass is two times the mass of everything else in the solar system except the sun, and this mass influences the sun and cause it to wobble a little in its orbit. The barycenter of the sun-Jupiter system is well OUTSIDE the sun. 

Jupiter can't become a star
Although Jupiter is huge it is still far too little to become a star and it requires to add at least twenty times its own mass or even more to become so. Adding just little more mass, two-three times as its current mass, will not make Jupiter bigger but will make it denser, but not dense enough to start nuclear fission. 

You can see Jupiter in daylight
Jupiter is seen clearly from Earth. It is the brightest object in the sky after the sun, moon and Venus. Under best conditions, Jupiter can be seen during the day. It requires some practice but possible.

Jupiter has lots of visitors
The first spacecrafts to visit Jupiter were the Pioneer missions in the early seventies followed by both Voyagers missions in 1979. It took some time for the next visitor, Ulysses in 1992 which was on her way to explore the sun poles and got to Jupiter in order to use its gravity to change orbit. Galileo in 1995 was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter for a long period and ended in a brave crash into its atmosphere. Cassini just said a quick hello in 2000 on her way to Saturn and New-Horizons also "stopped by" for a cup of coffee on her way to Pluto. Juno mission will be an interesting long mission around Jupiter.

Jupiter protects us
The great mass of Jupiter helps to keep the solar system clean and remove hazards such as asteroids and comets from the inner solar system. Sometimes Jupiter fell asleep during his watch and the dinosaurs are still angry about him, but without Jupiter, things will be worse. Jupiter also gets the bullet for us from time to time. In 1994 Shoemaker-Levy comet crashed into Jupiter and left some scars on it for about a year. Not long ago an amateur astronomer got another small crash on video:

Jupiter is not alone
Jupiter has lots of company. 67 moons so far and probably plenty of smaller ones. Its four largest moons were discovered in 1609 by Galileo. The largest moons - Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto - are bright enough to be seen by the naked eye, but Jupiter is too close to them and prevents that. Even a small binoculars will show the moons.

It is best to keep some distance from Jupiter
Ask Io. A small moon and one that its planet has enormous influenza on its structure. Io is smaller than our moon and the distance from Jupiter's center to Io is around 400,000 km. To be so close to Jupiter is not a good idea. Strong gravitational forces cause earthquakes and volcanic activity and made Io look like... Like what actually?

Io - Nasa JPL
Io - Nasa JPL
Jupiter helped to measure the speed of light
The Danish astronomer Ole Romer noticed a difference between the predicted time and actual time of Io's (The cheese ball from above) eclipses behind Jupiter. His idea was that these difference derived from the changes in Earth-Jupiter distance and that the light has a speed. He gave a value of 220,000km/sec which is around 76% of the actual value, a really good approximation!

Jupiter can suddenly Vanish from our view
Well, not that suddenly but the moon can occult Jupiter (just like any other planet). It is a rare event and here is a short video I took several years ago.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How to remove light pollution with "Blur and Subtract"

How to remove or at least reduce light pollution is a frequently asked question. The "Blur and Subtract" technique is a process which I use to reduce light-pollution on my astro-photography images. I live in an urban area and the skies are never black. Of course the best thing is to travel to a darker place, but most of the time that is not possible. I wanted to have a quick method to remove some of the light pollution without working too much on the computer. As it turned out this method provides very interesting results in both daylight and night photos.

The name of the technique "Blur and Subtract" speaks for itself and has three major steps:
  1. Take your desired photo (Photo 1)
  2. Take the same photo but use manual focus to blur the image as much as possible (Photo 2)
  3. Subtract (Photo 1 - Photo 2)

That is all, but if you are not familiar with any photo processing software continue to the detailed tutorial or watch this two minutes demonstration video.

Why the "Blur and Subtract" method reduces light pollution?

This method works well for light pollution since in Photo 1 the focus is usually set to infinity and in Photo 2 it will be set to just to a few cm, diffusing every star but the brightest into the background. Subtracting the background (Which is usually yellow/brown/green) will give a black background with the original stars. If you forgot to take photo 2 you can use the Blur function in a software but I think that taking a second photo is a better approach.
This method turns the following photo - Iridium Flare in Corona Borealis (Northern Crown)
Iridium Flare in Corona Borealis
Iridium Flare in Corona Borealis - With light pollution
Into this one
Iridium Flare in Corona Borealis - Light pollution removed
Iridium Flare in Corona Borealis - Light pollution removed
Which is much darker!

But you can use this method even if you include terrestrial objects and even in daylight. Strong lights will diffuse but will still be noticeable and the entire image will look surrealistic.
Here is an example. What we see here is an Iridium flare near the constellation Cygnus (Swan), and the entire summer triangle including Vega at the top and Altair at the bottom-right. The photo was taken with a wide lens (16mm). The method will work better for longer focal lengths as the change of the focus will diffuse the strong lights better.

Photo 1 - proper focus
Photo 1 - proper focus
This is the second photo. The flare is already gone which is even better for us (it improves the subtraction). The stars disappeared (except the really bright ones) and the city lights looks  bigger. 
Photo 2 - Focus to nearest point possible
Photo 2 - Focus to nearest point possible

And this is the result of the subtraction and some other processing. You might need to tilt the monitor a little bit and since it is very black a good quality monitor is required.

I applied some more fixes to the photo such as:
  1. Remove the diffused bright stars (Vega and Deneb) - Single click of the Spot Heal tool around each star.
  2. Remove the strayed light in the bottom-right caused by forgetting to cover the eyepiece during the long exposure - again one of the Heal tools did the trick.
  3. Many crops (just the flare, just the summer circle, just the flare and the buildings, etc.) but here I show the full image.
The sky is much darker and probably some faint stars are not shown (more fine tuning in software is possible if you desire), but what is more incredible is what happened to the buildings.

Detailed Tutorial

If you need an online free tool for this purpose you can use Pixlr. Here are the exact steps. The steps are identical for other software such as Photoshop or Lightroom but not everyone has them. Pixlr is a strong free alternative and has many features. However it might reduce the resolution of the image (There is a stronger desktop version but it is not free to use).

1. Browse to pixlr site, choose "Open image from computer" and select your first photo (the photo with the correct focus).
Open PXLR site
Open Pixlr site
2. The photo will appear on the screen. To open the second blur photo (Photo-2) as a new layer, go to the Layers menu and choose "Open image as layer", select the second photo.
Choose open image as layer
Choose open image as layer
 3. Check the layer window and press the "Toggle layer setting" button as displayed in the image below. This displays a dialog box with the options we need for the subtract operation.
Press Toggle layer setting button
Press Toggle layer setting button
 4. In the mode option choose "Difference".
Choose "Differnce" as mode
 5. That's it. If you need to process the image further, do it now or simply save your file with a new name as a JPEG or preferably PNG file.
Save the result file
Save the result file

More examples

Here is another example. The time is just after sunset but skies are still blue. Here is the result after I cropped most of the sky.

And another interesting application on this royal ponciana blooming tree
 royal ponciana blooming tree
 royal ponciana blooming tree
 Into this strange colors.
 royal ponciana blooming tree
 royal ponciana blooming tree

And a photo of the sun (Warning: photographing the sun requires special filters. Never look directly at the sun!). The sun is very bright so blurring it will create a larger and dimmer image of the sun (a red giant lookalike)) and create an interesting image.
Double sun
Double sun

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Carnival of Space #457

Hello all and welcome to a new CoS. Something always happen in space and here you will find what happened in the last week.
We will start with Mercury Transit from last week. What I love about such events is that they are so global. For several hours many people all over Earth watched this event from different countries, Universe Today collected some of the best photos and videos and present them in a single article:
Mercury Transit
Mercury Transit

One of my own videos is in UT's article and that is always an honor, but If you want more information and details including my photography setup please read my own summary of the transit as well.

Two more articles from UT:
From Chandra:
From BrownSpaceman:

Take in mind that next week Mars will be in opposition and as close to earth for the next two years, so grab your chances and aim a telescope to it and enjoy. It will not be as big as the moon, but even if you don't have a telescope you will notice its red bright color easily.

That's all for today. Have clear nights and long days!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mercury Transit summary

Mercury Transit is a rare occasion on which Mercury pass in front of the sun, a tiny tiny "eclipse".
My setup was like this. I used a Bresser 130N and Canon DSLR to photograph through it, however there was a slight focus problem and there are no good results from it. Another Camera, Nikon P900 was mounted as piggyback on the scope and worked properly and Another Camera Canon SX50 for handheld photos and for the Sunset video below.
My setup for Mercury transit
My setup for Mercury transit
The beginning was not very promising the entire sky were cloudy and the sun could hardly be seen. However from time to time there was some less clouds and it was possible to see the transit.
Here is my first photo. Notice sunspot 2542 in the middle and tiny Mercury (imagine the Sun as a clock and Mercury is at 11).
Mercury Transit
Mercury Transit
 And here is another photo in which you can see how Mercury moves.
Mercury Transit
Mercury Transit

The sky cleared a bit so I put all cameras on auto mode using the telescope and a mount, and left to find a place where I can see the sunset

Here are two videos from the transit. The first one is about 2 hours of the Transit until the sun was too down.

In the sunset videos don't miss 00:40 where two airplanes transit the sun as well!
Here is a general view
Photographing the sunset
Photographing the sunset

And the video.

And just the highlights of the sunset in regular speed (The airplane is in the beginning)

Mercury Transit sunset with airplane
Mercury Transit sunset with airplane

It was a very interesting and unique event!