The Trials of Solar Eclipse Photography

Although the August 21st eclipse happened about 6 weeks ago, I realized it would take me a long time to edit all the photos I took during my trip.  I had over 2000 individual shots of the eclipse alone, taking a single (1/4000 s) shot every 10 seconds, at ISO 100, with my telescope coming out at around f/6.  I’ve done a lot of time-lapse photography before, so I thought it would be a routine shot, but I was wrong.  Eclipses are much tougher to edit in terms of a time-lapse. But first, the end result of my 10 hours...

Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss it

Have you ever seen a picture of a comet or asteroid in the sky against a background of stars? Here let me show you. Can you spot the asteroid? Okay I confess there is no asteroid in the image above, but if there was you’d believe me because an asteroid in this image would be indistinguishable from the stars.  They are all points of light, so how can you tell them apart? There’s something that separates asteroids, comets, planets, and all other solar system objects from background stars in an image. When you’re driving in a car and you look to the...

Mercury Surprises

One of the most fascinating things happens whenever I show someone the planet Mercury in the sky. Their first reaction is to be surprised at how bright it is.  Most people think of Mercury as a faraway planet, too close to the Sun to see at all. But in reality, Mercury is close to Earth, and when the angles are just right, it’s not hard to find. Mercury is 57 million kilometers from the Sun, more than a third of the way to Earth.  We are also much closer to Mercury than we are to Jupiter and Saturn. When we see the...

Motivation Monday: The Little Victories

The difficulties and struggles of today are but the price we must pay for the accomplishments and victories of tomorrow. – William J. H. Boetcker There’s a goal you have in mind.  It’s big, it’s difficult to achieve, and if you succeed it will look good to everyone else who sees you accomplish it.  People will envy you and wonder how you did it.  they will see the huge difference it has made in your life and it will inspire them.  But there is a lot that they don’t see. I’ve talked about the grind, the adjustment, the focus and...

Motivation Monday: Fail Better

We’re more than a week into the new year, and I’m sure some of you have already given up on your new year’s resolutions and goals.  It happens, so don’t beat yourself up, especially since I consider failure part of the process.  In fact, failure is a necessary step to reaching success. So often we see failure as the end, the stopping point in our goal, so we have to bring our effort to a halt and start again.  But if there is one important lesson I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that failure can’t stop anyone from succeeding. ...

Barnard’s Star & Why Stars Move Slowly

Whenever I give a planetarium show to an audience, I always like to let time pass quickly.  The stars appear to move, but I quickly point out that it is in fact the planet Earth turning that gives the stars their apparent motion through the night sky.  I then reassure them that stars do move, it just takes a very long time for them to move a noticeable amount.  Why is this? The above animation of Barnard’s Star is a clue.  Photographed once per year, Rick Johnson created this animation showing the movement of the small red dwarf.  Barnard’s star...

Where are you? The Moon can tell you!

I was out on a sunny day a few weeks ago waiting for a bus, and as per usual I have my head up in space (I would say up in the clouds but that is too low for me).  I noticed the Moon up in the sky, just past first quarter, and I was thinking about the angle of the illuminated side and how it related to some of the positions of the Earth and Sun in space.  I wondered what information we could gather from the way it looked.  It led me to this ‘illuminating’ post. I realized...

One Night with Mars, One with Venus – The Moving Moon

Yesterday I posted some of my own photos of the Moon and Mars in conjunction from the night before.  Last night I went out again knowing that there was another planetary conjunction in the works.  The Moon was now with Venus.  People on the internet and in person were asking me “Mars? I thought the Moon was near Venus,” and “Venus? I thought the Moon was near Mars.”  It really speaks to the fact that most people don’t realize how quickly the sky changes from the point of view of an Earthbound observer.  So what happened between the Mars-Moon and...