Dell City Astrophotography October 2019

BandBwithISS 20191010

Last month we took a break and returned to Dell City, Texas, where we stayed in a lovely B&B, enjoyed gorgeous sunsets and sunrises over the Guadalupe and Cornudas Mountains, and enjoyed seeing the stars, planets, and the Milky Way.

The picture above shows our B&B with the International Space Station starting an overhead pass (white line in center-right of picture).

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 30.0 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod

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The picture above shows our B&B with the Milky Way, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 30.0 second exposure, ISO 640
  •             Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod

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Jupiter and Saturn surround the constellation Sagittarius, home to many beautiful deep sky objects, including a number of Messier objects, the brightest of which are labeled here.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 15.0 second exposure, ISO 1000
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod

MilkyWay 20191011

One of the great treats of going somewhere with dark skies is getting to see the Milky Way.  We could see it over our B&B, and we also saw it when we drove out to a darker spot to try to spot a comet at sunrise.  The comet was too close to the sun to see, but the Milky Way before dawn was beautiful.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 30.0 second exposure, ISO 4000
  •             Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod

MoonriseWithBunny 20191012

Local wildlife joined me for some of my astrophotography.  One night a skunk walked right past me.  Another night, a bunny watched the moonrise with me.  I didn’t get a picture of the skunk, but the picture above includes the bunny (its tail is the white spot below and just to the right of the moon).

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/11, 1/40 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 70 mm

Another of the great treats of visiting Dell City is getting to experience sunrises and sunsets that fill the sky.  Here are two of my favorite shots from this trip.

Camera geek info (mountains):

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/6.3, 1/30 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 45 mm

Camera geek info (church):

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/6.3, 1/100 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 24 mm

Trick or Telescope

HalloweenTelescopePumpkin 20191031

I was hoping we would get a clear night for Halloween, so I carved my pumpkin with an owl sitting on a telescope.

As predicted, the cold front blew through last night, and we got a cold but clear night for Halloween.  So I set up my telescope as an extra Halloween visitor treat!  Great views of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn.  Saturn’s rings looked especially great.

I tried taking some pictures through the telescope eyepiece with both my phone and my camera.  Neither turned out nearly as good as the view in person.  Oddly, the moon picture came out better on the phone, but the Saturn picture came out better with the camera.  On the other hand, I could get a much better Moon picture with the camera without the telescope, but haven’t managed to get nearly as good a picture of Saturn with the camera solo.

Camera geek info (Saturn):

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/2.8, 1/40 second exposure, ISO 4000
  •             Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus
  •             Celestron 8″ Dobsonian Telescope
  •             Teleview 15mm Wide Field Eyepiece

Jupiter and the Moon – 5 Sept 2019

 

Moon-Jupiter 20190905 v2

Moon-Jupiter 20190905 v1

 

The sky was clear last night, so I went out to get a lovely shot of the conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter.  I also searched for comet SOHO P/2008 Y12, but was unable to find it. It should be getting gradually brighter, though, so I’m going to try again!

Without resorting to neutral density filters, I could either pick up the detail in the Moon or Jupiter’s Moons.  Which do you like better?

Camera geek info (lunar detail):

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/20 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 100 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod

Camera geek info (Jupiter with moons):

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5, 0.5 second exposure, ISO 500
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 160 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod

Super Blood Wolf Moon – Total Lunar Eclipse

Last night was the “Super Blood Wolf Moon” total lunar eclipse, so named because the Moon is currently closer to the Earth (super), it was a total eclipse (blood), in January (wolf).  By the way, my favorite full moon name is “Worm Moon” in March.  I think that would make a great story title.

We just had a cold front come through, so it was cold, but perfectly clear.  This was definitely the best and longest lunar eclipse I have ever seen, and the delightful enthusiasm from my young neighbors across the street added to my enjoyment.

I considered trying to use my intervalometer to make a detailed time lapse, but I knew I’d want to play around with camera settings too much.  So I used a sequence of shots to make a time lapse slideshow.

The full Moon is basically lit like daylight.

fullmoon20190120

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1/800 second exposure, ISO 100
  •            Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •            Tripod
  •            Cable release

When the Moon was mostly eclipsed, it started to turn red.  I could either set the camera to get the detail of the lit side (and lose all the part in shadow), or set it for the shadow.  I thought the shadow picture was more interesting.

eclipsingmoon20190120

Camera geek info:

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

When the Moon was fully eclipsed, it was dark red.  The camera picked up more color with a longer time exposure.  It was harder to focus, though, since the Moon was so dim.

totallunareclipse20190120

Camera geek info:

  •            Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 2 second exposure, ISO 100
  •            Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus
  •            Tripod
  •            Cable release

When the Moon was coming out of the eclipse, dew had started to settle on the camera lens, so I got an interesting effect before I went inside to warm up my cold camera. And myself.

uneclipsingmoonwithdew

Camera geek info:

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

Lunar Halo

lunarhalo20190117

Last night I spotted a beautiful lunar halo.  Time for some astrophotography!

Lunar halos are caused by ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. Since those high-cloud ice crystals can precede low-pressure systems, they sometimes mean rain is coming.  And, in fact, that is what the weatherman predicts.

BTW, these halos are quite large, 22 degrees in radius, as my use of my widest angle lens might suggest.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 4 second exposure, ISO 400
  •             Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod

Moon and Venus

MoonAndVenus20180615

Last night, as we exited the movie theater, we saw a beautiful conjunction of the Moon and Venus, with a bright Venus floating above a crescent moon.  The cell phone pictures did not do it justice, nor did my hastily set up picture shot from the car window.

MoonAndVenus20180616

So I prepared to take pictures tonight.  The Moon had moved!  Still a beautiful conjunction, yes?

Moon20180616

And since I had the tripod set up, I captured a picture of the Moon as well.  It would be fun to explore its cratered surface.

Camera geek info:

Moon and Venus 6/15/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, autofocus on moon

Moon and Venus 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 1/5 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 112 mm, manual focus on moon
  •             Tripod

Moon 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1/60 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus on moon, IS off
  •             Tripod

SuperBlueBloodMoon

SuperBlueBloodMoon:

  •             Super: the moon is closer to the Earth and so visually larger
  •             Blue: the second full moon in the month, nothing to do with color
  •             Blood: a total eclipse turns the moon a reddish color
  •             Moon: the Earth’s natural satellite!

I should have gotten up earlier and driven to my favorite spot with a good view to the west. But I didn’t, so I found a spot in the neighborhood to snap a few pictures before the moon set below the tree line.

LunarEclipse20180131-1

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/30 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens, set at 145 mm, manual focus on moon
  •             Tripod

 

Here I focused on the foliage instead of the moon and played around with color in post-processing. Which do you like better: the natural color or the more saturated color?

LunarEclipse20180131-2LunarEclipse20180131-3

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/30 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens, set at 200 mm, manual focus on foliage
  •             Tripod