New Spring Moon

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April 7th, 2019, 08:10 p.m. local time

Good evening!  It’s been a while.  Yes, I blame the weather.  But that excuse washed into the recovering ground during today’s first Spring rain.

Since my last post on January’s eclipse, I have observed the night sky when opportunity presented itself.  Looked at Orion when it was high, wishing the winds and cold were not so severe that I could have gotten a telescope outside, or a camera.  It’s always a little depressing this time of year when, just as the weather turns favorably in North America, Taurus and the Pleiades and Orion start nipping at the setting Western Sun.  They prepare for their long seasonal rest.

But there’s always something to look forward to in the sky.  Leo and Regulus are returning.  Scorpius and Antares are just behind.  And the faint teapot of Sagittarius returns as well, along with my hopes of resuming my neglected ongoing search for Pluto.

The early morning sky is the current treat.  Venus and Saturn and Jupiter are all out before dawn.  There are months of planetary viewing ahead.  It will end when Orion begins its return, later this year.

For now though, tonight offered a nice look at the New Crescent Moon within the hour after Sunset.  The clouds and post-rain haze framed our moon alone in the West, with emerging Orion trailing not too far away.


Weather Reports from the 2019 Lunar Eclipse

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January 20th, 2019, 08:00 p.m. local time

Cold.  It was really, really cold.

It was near zero (Fahrenheit).  Fortunately there wasn’t much wind.

And there happened to be a total lunar eclipse here in North America yesterday.  The weather has been terrible for a long time, the reason why I have not posted for so long, but remarkably we had a window where the sky was totally clear, at the price of sub-frigid temperatures.  Of this I was glad, for I can wear as many layers of clothing as I like, but I can’t do much to poke a hole through the clouds.

I learned some lessons from last year’s partial lunar eclipse.  Chief among those was that the telescope in these temperatures is more hassle than it’s worth when it comes to the Moon.  My digital camera on tripod was more than sufficient for these conditions, at a slight loss of detail in the final images.  I used my longest stock lens.

Like last year’s partial, the Moon began to form an “unnatural” crescent, and yet unlike last year’s there then formed a reddish hue as it reached totality.  The Moon was never fully unlit from where I was, as there was always a sliver of bright sunlight as the very edge.

From the first set of pictures I took of the Full Moon around 7:30 p.m. Central Time:

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After 8:50 pm. the shadow formed:

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After totality, the shadow rescinded from the West (looking above):

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All in all, a great experience, I just wish it had been a little warmer.

Even though I have not posted here the past few months, I have been looking towards the sky as much as I could, either via naked eye observation or with my binoculars.  I look forward to the warmer months ahead; Jupiter’s return to the evening sky is a mere few months away!  Also, I STILL have to get to post-processing my Mars opposition photos.  Hopefully before Spring!

Don’t Try This at Home

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November 15th, 2018, 4:20 p.m. local time

Today’s picture is something I would normally not recommend doing, taking a picture directly of the Sun.  It has a chance to damage your camera’s optics.  But as I should be refreshing my smartphone very soon, I decided that the risk was justified if only this once.

Possibly the worst characteristic of our Sun is that it is so bright.  At a magnitude of 26+, it drowns out visibility of everything in the Cosmos, with exceptions of our Moon and sometimes Venus.  This is the unfortunate reason why stars and constellations are seasonal.  Orion would not be a “Winter” constellation if Rigel and Betelgeuse didn’t have to contend with the brightness of the nearest star to Earth.  I’d give up a lot to be able to observe Orion on a Summer afternoon in the middle of July, though I doubt much of the rest of our planet would concur.

Sorrows of Light

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October 29th, 2018, 6:00 a.m. local time

A melancholy view of the early predawn sky brooded over the parking lot.  Two demon eyes joined a larger hoard spreading their sickly orange blight to mask the remarkable luminescence above.

Most unfortunate is that the blinding unshielded lamps and dearth star field were exactly all that could be seen through the glare.

On a small screen, you should be able to see Sirius, brightest star in all our skies, to the left.  The full-sized image will reveal the constellation Orion in the middle, and in the upper right is the famous star of Taurus, Aldebaran.

Late Crescent Moon, October 2018

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October 15th, 2018, 7:25 p.m. local time

Wonderful stargazing weather.  That is how I would describe last night, though I am sure some would disagree because it was a little on the chilly side.  For me, the colder the better, as it keeps the bugs away.  Clear sky and just a little breeze made for a great chance to see this October’s Southern showcase of Saturn, the Moon, and Mars.

I took this picture of the Moon with my phone through my 10″ Dobsonian.  It had been some time since I used this equipment setup, as I have been opting to use primarily my digital camera.  But for the Moon, afocal photography with a smartphone allows for the entire surface, and then some, to be captured in one image.

On a side note, afterward I used the light cannon on different parts of the sky, observing the Summer Triangle, Sagittarius, and Cassiopeia.

Old Moon Gloomy Morning

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October 4th, 2018, 06:25 a.m. local time

It may have been a depressing view for some, with an early Fall chill, high winds, and fast-moving cloud cover.  But I knew the very Waning Moon was out there, somewhere through all that muck above.  And sure enough, in fits and spurts the sliver of the old Moon would pierce the early morning clouds for brief moments.  Today’s picture is a capture of one of those windows as I looked East from my backyard.

Goose Moon

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September 29th, 2018, 09:30 a.m. local time

I would like to say that today’s image was made possible from careful planning and thoughtful execution.  That I studied the migratory paths of North American geese, cross-referenced with this month’s Lunar phases, and examined meteorological reports to calculate the precise time and location.  But the truth is that I simply got lucky.  I was taking a bunch of pictures yesterday morning with camera on tripod and my shutter remote, snapping images when I noticed one of them had a dark streak across it.  I mildly panicked, thinking something smudged the lens!

Taken at 1/500th of a second, and it captures the bird details pretty well, I think.  The Moon isn’t too bad either.

Post-Full Moon Morning

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September 26th, 2018, 07:10 a.m. local time

With the Moon over a day past its latest Full phase, it is easily visible in the West in the hour after Sunrise.  Today offered a clear sky and obvious view as it set towards the horizon.

Waxing Gibbous Moon, July 2018

July 24th, 2018, 9:15 p.m. local time

A nearly Full Moon was on clear display tonight, lighting up a pleasantly mild July evening.  Saturn was close, just below the Moon, but I opted not to try to bring them into the same picture.  Worth noting is that four planets were visible in the night sky at this time: Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars, though Mars had just peeked over the horizon and was far out of my viewing range.