More ISS Passes – November 18 and 19, 2020

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November 18, 2020 – ISS rises from the trees

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November 18, 2020 ISS passes out of view

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November 19, 2020 ISS rises above the trees next to the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn

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November 19, 2020 ISS on a long overhead pass

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November 19, 2020 ISS sets, with airplane photobomber

I had so much fun seeing Dragon chase the International Space Station that I decided to do some experiments with long-exposure satellite photography.  The International Space Station, as the brightest of the satellites, is a good subject, and we had some more good passes this week.

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, the now-docked Dragon and Space Station passed to the side of a crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn.  I tried two minute long exposures to catch a long pass.

On Thursday, November 19, 2020, the now-docked Dragon and Space Station flew almost overhead, but at twilight.  The sky was much too bright to use a 2 minute exposure, so I dialed it back to one minute.  And, because the long pass went almost directly overhead, I had to turn the camera around in the middle.  As the Space Station was setting, an airplane (seen as a line of pairs of lights) flew in front of it and their paths crossed in the photograph.  They almost, but not quite, were in the same direction at the same time.

Note that with the long exposures, the lovely crescent Moon turned into a starburst.  Note also the change in the Moon’s position relative to Jupiter and Saturn in one day.

When I try this again, I think I will use my sky-tracking mount so there aren’t star trails.

Camera Geek Info Wednesday November 18

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/8, 119 second exposure (1) and 103 second exposure (2), ISO 250, custom white balance 3500K
  • Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  • Intervalometer with bulb at 2 minutes, intervals at 2 minutes and 1 second
  • Tripod

Camera Geek Info Thursday November 18

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/16, 59 second exposure, ISO 100, custom white balance 3500K
  • Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  • Intervalometer with bulb at 1 minute, intervals at 1 minute and 1 second
  • Tripod

ISS and SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience

The International Space Station and the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience flew overhead this evening.  The Crew-1 Dragon vehicle is chasing the ISS, catching up to dock later this evening.  I was so delighted that I could actually see one vehicle following the other that I forgot to keep taking pictures.  But in this shot you can see Mars, the bright line of ISS and Dragon (one overlays the other, so they appear as one line), Saturn, and Jupiter.  

I love their motto: “All for One, and Crew-1 for All!”

Camera Geek Info 

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 20.0 second exposure, ISO 400, custom white balance 3500K
  • Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  • Tripod

Orionids 2020: Antha 2, Camera 1

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I got up at 4:30 AM on Wednesday morning when the sky was supposed to be clear of clouds and Moon-free to try to catch some meteor pictures.  I was out for over an hour … the sky was mostly gloriously clear (a few clouds blew by) … the stars were bright and beautiful … and I saw two short meteors, which, given their direction, may not even have been Orionids.  I did better than my camera, though, which only caught one, which I think is also one of the ones I saw.  I love the color the camera captured!

Camera Geek Info

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 2.0 second exposure, ISO 2000, custom white balance 3500K
  • Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  • Intervalometer with bulb at 2 sec, intervals at 3 sec
  • Tripod

Throwback Thursday – Comet Hale-Bopp! April 7, 1997

I was looking through an old photo album and found a picture of Comet Hale-Bopp.  I knew from the trees (and memory, actually), that it had been to the NW of my driveway.  Using GoSkyWatch on my phone, I was able to determine the date the picture was taken – April 7, 1997 – by matching the comet’s position relative to the stars.  Interestingly, the position in the app is not exactly where it is in the photograph, but this is the closest match.  The app, by the way, gives the comet’s magnitude on that date as -1.6.

Since this is a scanned picture from film, I don’t have any camera setting or equipment info for this one.  But I can tell I must have used a long exposure and a tripod from the length of the star trails.

Comet NEOWISE – Photobombers!

It’s been clear the last few nights, so I’ve been out every night to capture Comet NEOWISE as it moves across the sky.  My pictures have been photobombed by an airplane (alternating red and green lights are the airplane give-away) and a satellite!  My satellite tracking tool suggests the satellite photobomber was Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) 2.

Camera Geek Info (airplane photobomb, comet in upper right)

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 15 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

Camera Geek Info (satellite photobomb, comet in-line with satellite, below and to the left)

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 6 second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  • Tripod

Comet NEOWISE – August 5, 2020

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After my failed attempt earlier this week, I was ready to spot NEOWISE and knew what the surrounding star patterns looked like.

It is a much dimmer object now than it was two weeks ago, and in my camera, it no longer has a tail.  But it was a good chance to test the “how dim an object can I see?” question.  Fuzzy green NEOWISE is visible at magnitude 6.9; fuzzy M53 is visible at magnitude 8.3.  The stars around them range from magnitude 6.1 to 9.9.

A friend suggested I look into the white balance for my astrophotography pictures, so I did a little research on good settings.  The top picture used a custom white balance of 3500K.  I like that the sky is blue instead of gray-pink-yellow, but I may do more experimenting to find the best color.  What do you think?

Camera Geek Info (both)

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 2 second exposure, ISO 6400
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • Tripod

Comet NEOWISE Failure – August 3, 2020

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We’ve had a lot of rain recently, so I haven’t gotten a chance to see Comet NEOWISE in a while.  It was finally clear earlier this week, so I went out for a look.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t familiar with the part of the sky it was in, so I didn’t quite get it.  Lesson learned: study the sky beforehand!

Happily, it looks like the weather might cooperate this week and give me another chance.

Camera Geek Info

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 2 second exposure, ISO 3200
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • Tripod

Comet Neowise – July 21, 2020

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My husband and I drove to our favorite spot to view the horizon twice in the last two weeks to look for Comet Neowise C/2020 F3, with no luck finding it.  It was too low to the horizon in the direction of the bright lights of Houston.

On our one clear night this past week, I tried to spot it from our driveway.  Success!  I could not spy it naked eye.  With binoculars, it is a fuzzy green blob.  With the camera, it has a lovely tail.

As it moves away from us, it is getting higher in the sky, but dimmer.  I am looking forward to trying to spot it again the next time we don’t have clouds.

Camera Geek Info (image above)

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 4 second exposure, ISO 6400
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • Tripod

 

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Camera Geek Info

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 3.2 second exposure, ISO 6400
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • Tripod

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Camera Geek Info

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 3.2 second exposure, ISO 6400
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  • Cable release
  • Tripod

Comet Neowise – July 10, 2020

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My husband and I got up at 4:15 AM (!) on Friday to drive to our favorite spot with a good view towards the horizon to try to spot Comet Neowise C/2020 F3.  We were not disappointed!  While not naked eye visible, the comet and its tail were easily visible in binoculars and through the camera lens.  We enjoyed a good look at it and the planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were all visible – until the sky started to grow light.  Then we enjoyed driving through McDonald’s for what my father-in-law would call a “naughty breakfast” (not on the diet!).

The comet should now be visible in the night sky, and we’re going out to take another look!

If you want to try to find it, too, you can find a sky map here.  Happy hunting!

Camera Geek Info (comet and horizon)

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1 second exposure, ISO 640
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 100 mm, manual focus
  •             Cable release
  •             Tripod

Camera Geek Info (comet and clouds)

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1 second exposure, ISO 1000
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  •             Cable release
  •             Tripod

Camera Geek Info (close up)

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1 second exposure, ISO 3200
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •             Cable release
  •             Tripod

Mercury in Gemini – June 12, 2020

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Mercury has been in Gemini this month, and I got the picture above a few weeks ago.  A nice conjunction of Mercury, the crescent Moon, and a comet (too dim to be seen with the other two, but there) was predicted for June 21, and my husband and I had scouted out the best view to the West in our neighborhood during one of our evening walks.  Alas, the rain clouds did not cooperate.  But there is always sometime to see when you look up!  Which I’m looking forward to doing again once our skies clear here.

Camera Geek Info

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  •             Tripod