Astrophotography: Sagittarius and the Galaxy

The challenge of learning astrophotography, and photography in general, is two-fold.  There’s the work you do at the eyepiece, requiring you to choose the right settings for the right shot.  Then there’s the work you do at the computer screen, the post-processing and adjustments.  Ultimately the more important one is the camera work.  If you take a bad photograph, no amount of post-processing will help you, even if you are an expert at it.  It’s like the image is the cake, and the processing is the icing.  No matter how much icing you cover it with, a bad cake is...

Astrophotography: First go at Luna

The Spring has been a bit slower than I would have liked in terms of astrophotography.  I have seen a lot of fantastically clear evenings, but have been plagued by a lack of time and a few technical issues that have kept me from getting the many hours of practice needed to become competent.  I did manage to purchase an inexpensive adapter to use my camera with my telescope, giving me a ton of new options for photography, as well as a ton of new challenges. The two main problems I had, and need to address in the future, are...

Review: IMAX: A Beautiful Planet

I recently had the opportunity to watch a brand new IMAX feature, called A Beautiful Planet.  It features incredible views of the Earth from space, captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.  Most of the footage was taken during Expedition 42 on the ISS, starting with the arrival of Samantha Cristoforetti, Terry Virts, and Anton Shkaplerov aboard the Soyuz TMA-15M, and ending with their departure. Much of the film was focused on the views of Earth, the scenic diversity of life and land that can only be seen from space.  It was difficult to see the effects of humans during the day time,...

Very Long Exposure Photography

Since diving into astrophotography last year, I’ve discovered that I love the concept of time-lapse, and not just with respect to astronomy.  It’s amazing to see the changes that can occur over long periods of time, and time-lapse photography is a way to record the changes and see how they unfold.  In astronomy the best time-lapses give you a sense of the Earth’s motion through space, show satellites zipping overhead, and show aurora dance along with weather patterns. Large amounts of time with slow incremental changes produce incredible results when it comes to time lapses. Science communication is about how to...

Flight of the Ionic Phoenix

I’ve spent the last couple of days as a zombie due to the time change, but now that I feel like myself, I’ve got some catch-up posts to do.  The first one has to do with today’s APOD. Can you spot the phoenix shape? It doesn’t mean anything special, it’s just the way our brains see the patterns of light from this gorgeous aurora in Iceland.  Ionization of atmospheric gases from charged solar particles doesn’t sound as glamorous as ‘phoenix aurora,’ but I still appreciate the scientific beauty of it.  Human beings are excellent at pattern recognition, and so we...

Astrophotography – New Timelapses and Planet Shots!

I’m addicted.  I love astrophotography.  I find myself spending a lot of time working no the photos, being outside trying to get the perfect shot, learning how to use my camera and other equipment, and putting together a wish list of equipment that will let me do even more!  I went outside before sunrise yesterday and managed to snap an hour’s worth of images, adding to an hour from the night before, where I attempted some star trails over the city of Toronto.  All I’ve done so far today is play with the photos and learn to make them look...

Pluto has Water! And is Blue to Human Eyes!

Some colour images were released from New Horizons today, showing some of the first true colour views of the icy dwarf planet.  The amazing thing is that to human eyes, the combination of Methane and Nitrogen in the atmosphere give it a gorgeous blue tinge. The other amazing piece of news is that Pluto has water ice on its surface! Check out these photos highlighted for surface water ice. By looking for the signature of Sunlight reflected off water, the cameras on New Horizons can spot regions where water ice is dominant.  Pluto continues to surprise!

A Great Year of Perseid Meteors!

I’m back from vacation! And what a time it was up north seeing the Perseid meteor shower this year.  With no Moon and the best dark skies I have had all summer, the shower did not disappoint, with at least 50 per hour and perhaps as many as 80 where I was viewing!  I saw a few great shots on Reddit’s Astronomy sub. I didn’t catch any meteors in my photos, and not for lack of trying.  I am still a rookie astrophotographer, so I had some trouble getting the settings right on my camera, even though I spent two...

Dawn Arrives at Ceres Today!

Today is the day that the Dawn Mission completes a long 7.5 year long journey that has taken it past the orbit of Mars and into the asteroid belt, studying the second largest asteroid Vesta before heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres, where it has now injected itself into orbit, as of 7:39 am EST. This marks the first time in history a spacecraft has seen a dwarf planet up close, and with New Horizons passing Pluto in July, Dawn won the race in an astronomical photo finish. The Story So Far Launching on September 27th, 2007, Dawn orbited the Sun and...

The Moon, Mars, and Venus are Shining Together

Even though the weather has been insanely cold in Canada the past few weeks, there is an upside for astronomers.  Call me a perpetual optimist, but when it’s colder in Canada than it is on Mars, you have to find some kind of silver lining. The upside is that colder weather and clear skies are sometimes synonymous.  I’m not a meteorologist so I don’t have any reason to go into detail as to why, but we have had a lot of cold, clear evenings.  I’ve had a chance to go outside and test my new DSLR camera, at least for a...