Scorpio with Planets

Scorpio20160808

Well, it’s hotter ‘n hell and the tree frogs are singing, so it must be time for … goin’ outside and doin’ some astrophotography! Because, seriously, this view of Scorpio with Mars and Saturn is beautiful. Go out and take a look!

Camera geek info:

Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/2.8, 30 second exposure, ISO 100
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 34 mm, manual focus at infinity
iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
Tripod

Astrophotography – Planets

Conjunction of Moon and Saturn
MoonAndSaturn20150116

Saturn (“One of the These Things is Not Like the Others”)
Saturn20150116

Jupiter and four Galilean Moons
JupiterAndMoons20150116

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

Saturn hovers over Mercury

MercurySaturn20131127Med

As Murphy would have it, we’ve had heavy clouds and rain this week, so we weren’t able to look for Comet ISON.  The clouds finally blew away this morning, so we braved the cold morning to see if we could spot the comet through the colors of the sunrise.  We didn’t spot the comet, but we did see Saturn hovering above Mercury.  It was quite striking, don’t you think?