Driving Home From My Daughter’s Graduation

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I was happily driving home from my daughter’s high school graduation, loaded with camera gear, and I spotted this interesting juxtaposition of the Moon and a stoplight. Of course, I took a picture. And, for the first time in years, I decided to write a poem.

Driving Home From My Daughter’s Graduation

Stopped at a red light
I think of daughter’s future
Brighter than the moon

Astrophotography – Planets

Conjunction of Moon and Saturn
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Saturn (“One of the These Things is Not Like the Others”)
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Jupiter and four Galilean Moons
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You know you enjoy a hobby when you get up early and go out into the dark cold for it. This morning there was a conjunction of the Moon and Saturn, so I got up and went out. And while I was at it, I took some pictures of Jupiter and its moons, too. I checked – yes all four moons were on the same side of Jupiter this morning. I think it would be fun to make a time lapse of their motion. Might have to try it.

I learned a new astrophotography trick last night. I knew I needed to manually focus for star pictures, but it’s hard to do with dim sources and a camera designed for autofocus. But my camera has a nifty real-time view on the LCD screen with a 10x view … so I could zoom in on the moon or a planet and use the real-time view to help me manually focus. Neat! And *much* sharper pictures.

The real-time view also showed me that, in spite of the solid tripod, the 200 mm is actually quite shaky if I want to crop further in. So I get out my cable release so I could watch the image settle down on the 10x screen and then trigger the camera without actually touching it.

I also already knew that although I could easily see both the Moon and Saturn, Saturn would disappear or the Moon would wash out without some filtering. Graduated neutral density filters to the rescue! I used two (wish I had more and stronger ones) to dim down the Moon so you can see both bodies in the same photo.

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.0, 1/60 second exposure for Moon and Saturn, 1/13 second exposure for Jupiter, ISO 2000
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 200 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Singh-Ray Galen Rowell Filter ND-1G-SS + ND-2G-SS for Moon
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release

Tri-Color Moon

On October 8, I got up early to observe and photograph the lunar eclipse. These two shots were my favorites.

The blue glow effect in this first shot is the result of a mistake – I wasn’t using a lens hood to prevent internal reflection. So it’s wrong, but I think it looks kinda cool, like a rocket has taken off from the lunar surface and left a trail behind, or the moon is sporting a tail like a comet, or a lunar volcano is venting … my imagination smiles at all the possible explanations. What do you think it looks like?

LunarEclipse1-20141008

This second shot shows a tri-color moon – the red “blood” eclipsed moon, a central gray band, and the still-sunlit white moon. So different from the normal, stark black and white moon. What would it be like to have a multicolored satellite?

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Back from Seeing Alpha Centauri

Summer vacation this year took us to Peru, where we greatly enjoyed experiencing another culture and exploring the Inca ruins, including the magnificent Machu Picchu. I also enjoyed photographing the moon and stars that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross looks like a kite to me.

View from our Lima hotel room:

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View from our Cusco hotel room:

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View from our Aguas Calientes hotel room:

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Moon through Inca doorway:

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Shadow Selfie with Moon and Inca Stonework:

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Moon with Inca Stonework:

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Moon over Urubamba River with stone piles:

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Southern Stars from Aguas Calientes – Southern Cross and Alpha Centauri:

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Machu Picchu:

Peru-MP-1APeru-MP-2Peru-MP-3Peru-MP-1Peru-MP-4