Early Riser

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December 4th, 2019, 02:09 p.m. local time

Not too early, but early enough.  Here was the Quarter Moon rising over Lake Michigan today, early afternoon.

Someday, I may have to set up my DSLR camera at this locale to capture the Moon as it rises off the water.

Rising Moon Late Afternoon, Early November

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November 5th, 2019, 4:15 p.m. local time

I will spare you the verbose compensatory reasons for not posting recently, only to say though the weather has been flat out lousy.  During the brief openings of sky, I have been tracking the Great Square of Pegasus overhead, with a quick eye towards the vicinity of Andromeda higher still.  I wish I could capture the Andromeda Galaxy like shown over at Cosmic Focus.

Today was a clear but very cold day.  I snapped this image of the past-Quarter Moon rising over Lake Michigan in the later afternoon.  With the recent time change (read all about it here at the Explaining Science blog), night starts encroaching by 4:30 p.m., which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so cold.

Chicago Panoramic

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October 9th, 2019, 04:20 p.m. local time

I took this picture before leaving work today.  It’s a partial “pano” of Chicago, from the heart of the city, looking South.

How many buildings or landmark-type areas can you identify?  One hint: two stadiums of Chicago’s professional sports teams are shown here.

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.

Curious Location to See the Moon

Sears Tower and Moon, via smartphone.

June 7th, 2018,11:30 a.m. local time

I don’t always photograph the Moon in broad daylight.  But when I do, I try to include a former world’s tallest building, for perspective.

NEWS: Moon Seen in Daylight

Contrary to popular belief, the Moon (upper left) can sometimes be seen in daytime.

BRIGHTVILLE, ILLINOIS – After concerned citizens reported a UFO in the low Western sky, the apparent same object was spotted late in the afternoon the following day.

The previously unidentified object, known as the Moon, was seen last Friday in the hour before sunset and shortly thereafter.

While most people paid little heed to the event, some Brightville residents did report their sightings to the Illinois Department of Illumination.

“We’ve had motorists and pedestrians calling our office to report seeing the object for a second day,” said an IDOI spokestalker.  “Though it appeared slightly larger in the sky than last night, we do still firmly believe it is the Moon again.”

Though the Moon is a natural and predictable sight, it is nonetheless not approved to appear in Illinois skies.

As IDOI explains, “To date, nobody has yet filled out the necessary paperwork or filed a license application for the Moon to appear in our skies like it does.”

The unlicensed Moon sightings have fueled assertions from the Nighttime Lighting Association to increase the number of streetlights throughout the state.  The rational is that more artificial outdoor lighting will make it difficult to impossible to see any objects in the sky, day or night.

Though the NLA was unavailable for comment, the organization’s website says they are, “committed to the propagation of street lamps, spotlights, and high-intensity outdoor home bulbs so that we’ll never see the dark of night again.”

Critics of the NLA’s position believe that it unnecessarily harms natural night environments by contributing to light pollution.

BREAKING NEWS: Moon Visible Despite Excessive Light

Experts acknowledged that the object (lower-left center) witnessed by several persons is known as the Moon.

BRIGHTVILLE, ILLINOIS – The Earth’s only natural satellite made a surprise appearance in the sky yesterday evening, alarming the few onlookers who happened to noticed its thin crescent near the Western horizon.

Sources confirmed that the Moon may have been visible for a limited time on Thursday, until about an hour after sunset.  It appeared as what astronomers call a Waxing Crescent, since each night there will more of its disc visible, until it reaches its Full phase on the 31st of January.

“I was walking to my car in the parking lot after work and, you know, just happened to see something in the sky that wasn’t an airplane,” said one anonymous blogger.  “It’s so hard to see anything up there with all these lights.”

Though the appearance of the Moon is not typically a concern to most people, Illinois has taken aggressive steps in recent years to illuminate its night sky more.  In particular, the installation of new ultra-bright LED lights along the state’s streets and tollways have greatly contributed to what critics call “light pollution.”

“We received many reports from concerned motorists about a curved-shape UFO low in the sky,” said an Illinois Department of Illumination spokesperson.  “After review with top meteorogical experts, we are confident the object was indeed the Moon.

“Understanding the anxiety this event caused, rest assured that we will be looking to install even more high-powered LEDs throughout our roadways.  We simply cannot have our motorists distracted by objects appearing in the sky from nowhere without official approval.”

Due largely to the Chicago region, Illinois has one of the highest Bortle scale ratings on the planet.

“Our goal, and the goal of every Illinois citizen, is to achieve the highest Bortle scale rating in the country and throughout the world.”

Illinois authorities warn that in areas without cloud cover, the Moon may be more visible and brighter every night for the next ten days.

Cloud City

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Winter morning over Chicago on January 9th, 2018.

What Do You See?

I took this image of Chicago after dusk on December 20th last year.  What do you see?

Some may say they see a city alive, from the skyscrapers to lakefront to the bustling streets that run through Chicago’s commercial, industrial, and residential zones.

Personally, I see photons.  Lots and lots of stray protons, all of them moving up.  Beyond the few markers intended for aviation safety, the sources of these photons are illuminating spaces beyond their intended targets.

What do you see?