Category Archives: Astrophotography

12/22/16: Space.com post of ‘SuperMoon’ image

Fortunately this time it didn’t take 4 months to learn that Space.com again picked up an image of mine, in this case, the recent TerraLapse composite of the Nov 2016 SuperMoon rising over the Denver skyline:

 

8/13/16: Perseid Meteor Showers from Castle Valley, UT

Took a 27-hour trip (door-to-door) to Utah to try and capture what had been reported as being an exceptional year for the Perseid Meteor Showers, due to Jupiter’s gravity altering the path of the comet fragments/dust that cause the yearly event. I had planned on catching both ‘peak’ nights, but the closure of I-70 at Glenwood until Thursday afternoon prevented a two-day trip, so I arrived Friday night just before sunset, and was home by 4 pm on Saturday.

Although the second night wasn’t as good as advertised, I did capture two meteors with persistent trains at 0308 and 0321 hrs; images and time-lapses of those will have to wait a day or two. I just now finished up the composite image from the 36 major meteors that I captured with a 15mm lens; those meteors were captured over 2 hours 32 minutes of shooting between 0153 and 0426 in the morning. The fading light on Castleton Tower is from the moon, which set just after 2 AM.

2016 Perseid Meteor Showers over Castleton Tower, UT (8/13/16)

2016 Perseid Meteor Showers over Castleton Tower, UT (8/13/16)

A crop from the main meteor in question, showing the gases slowly moving away from the location of the meteor. These gases could be seen moving with the atmosphere for more than 30 minutes afterward (time-lapse to follow).

Perseid Meteor Persistent Train detail

Perseid Meteor Persistent Train detail, Castleton Tower, Utah

11/24/14: Rainbow colors in the night sky

So, looking out at the night sky, you just never know what you might see. Sitting in the living room last night at about 11:00 I looked out the window to the west, and saw what appeared to be a plane with multi-colored flashing lights, but not moving; it almost looked like a hovering drone (if you’ve ever seen one of the bigger ones at night). Now I’ve seen plenty of ‘twinkling’ stars, but I’d never seen anything quite like it, so I stepped out onto the deck with camera to try and find out what it was. It quickly became apparent that it was moving with the starfield, and it was indeed the star Sirius, one of our closest neighboring suns at 8.5 million light years away.

 

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View of the eastern night sky over Golden, CO.

We’ve all seen stars twinkle, but I had never seen anything even remotely like this, and I knew that a standard image would not capture any color, as the long exposure would additively blend all the colors to white (remember your color theory back in school?). So I resorted to moving the camera during exposure while focused on the star, so that it effectively left ‘star trails’ in the image. Seeing the results, I never could have guessed that the atmosphere could produce such rapidly changing color from a ‘twinkling’ star. I also captured a long-exposure image of Rigel (in the constellation Orion), but it proved to be relatively colorless, tending toward blue.

 

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Rainbow colors of the star Sirius, revealed by a long-exposure utilizing camera movement to reveal the changes in color over time due to atmospheric effects upon the relatively bright star’s light, which is usually low in the winter sky here in the northern hemisphere.

 

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(100% crop of previous image)

 

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Blue-ish colors of the star Rigel (note lack of rainbow colors), revealed by a long-exposure utilizing camera movement to reveal any changes in color over time.

 

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Additional view of the rainbow colors of the star Sirius (revealed by a long-exposure utilizing camera movement to reveal the changes in color over time).

 

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(100% crop of previous image)

 

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Star chart

 

Weird stuff out there at night, our galaxy is an interesting thing to observe if you take the time to look.

9/27/15: SuperMoon Lunar Eclipse from Golden, CO

The weather didn’t exactly cooperate for tonight’s somewhat rare SuperMoon Lunar Eclipse, but I made do with what I had (can you say: clouds and murky atmosphere?).

 

5 hours and 13 minutes of the SuperMoon Eclipse over Golden, CO. [9/27/15 1921-0034 hrs MDT.]

 

Closeup of eclipse sequence.

 

Supermoon rises over South Table Mtn., Golden, CO.

 

The height of the eclipse, referred to as ‘The Blood Moon’.

 

Few parking spaces caused a constant flow of traffic up/down Lookout Mtn. during the eclipse.

 

Left image taken 9/26/15, right image taken toward end of eclipse on 9/27 (notice difference in clarity of air, right image shows a piece of space junk or satellite floating in front of moon).

 

6/22/15: Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO

Rolled the dice and drove up to Loveland Pass tonight due to the current solar storm which has been bombarding our planet for the last day or so. Fortunately I was rewarded with about 12 minutes of stunning imagery; it was my first time seeing the aurora other than while flying over Greenland at night, years ago.

This first image is a 12-image panoramic stitch, captured near the height of the aurora display.

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(If you’d like to see a full 270°-wide panorama of this view, plus a star-trail image, click here).

The following is a time-lapse video of the two sequences I captured; the first at 35mm, and the second at 16mm, and spans from 10:48 to 11:59 PM:

 

 

Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

Hint of Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

First indication that something was coming (Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15)

Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

And then it came, practically out of nowhere! (Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15)

Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

(Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15)

Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

(Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15)

Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15.

(Aurora Borealis from Loveland Pass, CO, 6/22/15)

1/16/15: Zodiacal Light and Comet Lovejoy from Guanella Pass

I processed a few more image sequences of Comet Lovejoy from last night’s shoot up on Guanella Pass. It is a long-period comet and is on its way out now; it will presumably continue to dim until re-appearing in another 8000 years or so.

This first image contains a variety of cosmic curiosities, from Comet Lovejoy (the fuzzy green spot in upper left) and the Andromeda Galaxy (the fuzzy white disc in upper-right, center), to a small meteor (the thin white line, near center); meteors are often debris from comets, and thus there may be two separate vestiges of comet material in this image. Most notably though, the whitish glow emanating from the horizon and pointing toward the comet is a phenomenon called zodiacal light, the light of the sun from the other side of the earth made visible by the scattering of sunlight by interplanetary dust (that is, in space, well beyond our atmosphere). The sun had set nearly 3 hours before and was 33 degrees below the horizon, and it’s a bit unusual to capture this phenomenon in post-twilight skies this early in the Spring.

 

Deep sky image captured from Guanella Pass, CO. [5D MkIII @16mm, EF16-35/2.8L II, 30-sec @f/2.8, ISO 3200]

Deep sky image captured from Guanella Pass, CO. [5D MkIII @16mm, EF16-35/2.8L II, 30-sec @f/2.8, ISO 3200]

w/text: Zodiacal light, comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, meteor, Andromeda Galaxy.

w/text: Zodiacal light, comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, meteor, Andromeda Galaxy.

 

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Rotating space junk intersects tail of Comet Lovejoy (5D MkIII@280mm, 25-image stack at 6sec@f/2.8, ISO 2000)

 

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Comet Lovejoy from Guanella Pass, CO (5D MkIII@280mm, 21-image stack at 4sec@f/4, ISO 5000)

 

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Comet Lovejoy crosses paths with satellite Coronas Photon (1D MkIII@200mm, 38-image stack at 5sec@f/2.8, ISO 3200)

 

Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula (5D MkIII@280mm, 8-image stack at 4sec@f/4, ISO 3200)

 

 

 

1/15/15: Comet Lovejoy imaged at Guanella Pass, CO (10,800′ MSL)

One quick one from tonight’s trip up to the closure point of Guanella Pass at 10,800′ MSL. Pretty dark and cold up there, and for some reason the image looks quite a bit different than last night’s. The tail seemed a bit less obvious, however I was able to capture more detail in it (note the two dark streamers coming out from the coma). The comet was naked-eye visible with off-center viewing, looked as bright as through binoculars in Golden last night.

22-image stack (light frames), 280mm, 4sec at f/4, ISO 5000:

Comet Lovejoy imaged at Guanella Pass, CO, 1/15/15.

Comet Lovejoy imaged at Guanella Pass, CO, 1/15/15.