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Posts Tagged ‘jupiter’

There are a lot of interesting astronomical events for photographers at the end of 2011, on October 21st we had the Orionids meteor shower, then Jupiter will be at opposition on the 28th. Venus starts to climb higher and produces some interesting conjunctions with the moon and mercury. Finally Mars also starts to climb higher in the sky and becomes brighter. The 2011 show ends on December with the 2011 Geminids meteor shower, always a reliable event even if the moon is bad for this year’s show.

I went out two nights, the 20th and 21st of October for the Orionids. The first night I tried from the coast of light-polluted Buenos Aires, I battled against winds of 40km/h and struggled all night long. The result: Zero meteors, I had hopes for a bright fireball to survive light pollution but it didn’t happen.

This is how the sky looked from my light-polluted spot:

Orion from a Light Polluted City

Orion from a Light Polluted City

Can you see Orion near the horizon? It’s difficult in the photo, easier with the naked eye.

Just before sunrise there was a nice conjunction between the Moon, Mars and Regulus. I took a shot from the same location before packing and going home:

Moon, Mars and Regulus

Moon, Mars and Regulus

For the night of the 21st I escaped to a rural area trying to win the battle against light pollution. It’s not easy when you live in a 10+ million people city like Buenos Aires, you need to drive more than 200km and even then you’ll find yourself near yet another city.

I drove to the County Observatory of Mercedes, 100km away from Buenos Aires. The observatory has nice rural skies, light pollution is only a problem in the direction of Buenos Aires to the East. Unfortunately Orion rises at the East so the battle was on again. The skies were much, much better and I managed to shoot two nice Orionid fireballs just before midnight.

Orionids from Argentina

Orionids from Argentina

The photo was selected as Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day, thank you!

At 3am the moon emerged from the horizon and clouds rolled in, so it was time to go home. I took a shot of the cloudy nightscape with a fisheye lens to show how bright Jupiter was near opposition.

Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter shines at -2.7 magnitude you can compare it against the brightest star in the sky: Sirius at the top right of Orion. The Pleiades cluster is also visible in the photo. Even with the clouds you can see many more stars from this rural location than from a light polluted place. I will try to be in an even darker place for the Geminids, it just needs some weather help.

Finally a Stellarium capture of the Conjunction between Venus, Mercury and an ultra-thin moon just after sunset for October the 28th. If weather is good don’t miss it!

Moon-Venus-Mercury on October 28th

Moon-Venus-Mercury on October 28th

As usual I’ll be posting the photos as I process them in my Nightscapes Gallery at my website.

I have also added a new option for Matted and Mounted Metal Prints at a good price in the strange event of a visitor liking one of my photos 😉

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The Moon October 19th 2010

The Moon October 19th 2010

This post shows some simple results of what can be done with a DSLR without a telescope in the field of planetary astrophotography. While the results can never be compared to the results obtained with a telescope I think most photographers are unaware of what can be achieved just with the camera and a long lens. For this examples I used a Canon 550D camera, a 400mm F5.6 lens and a 1.4x teleconverter. Longer lenses and a 2x teleconverter can achieve even more magnification for even better results. Glass quality is fundamental a good 400mm lens can be better than a cheap 800mm mirror lens.

Jupiter and its Moons

Jupiter and its Moons

For the moon and Jupiter I used the camera, the 400mm lens and the 1.4x teleconverter. Aperture was fixed at F11 for maximum sharpness, ISOs between 400 and 800 are more than enough to get shutter speeds such as 1/200 or 1/100 those are enough to freeze the movement of the moon or Jupiter across the field of view.

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation

To improve noise, resolution and magnification several images can be taken and then stacked. Registax is a very good free software for planetary stacking.  For Jupiter and its moons two different exposures are needed as the planet will be overexposed if the moons are displayed and the moons will be invisible if Jupiter is properly exposed.

Jupiter without a Telescope

Jupiter without a Telescope

This last example was done with the Video Mode of the 550D. The 550d has a 7x 640×480 video mode that acts like a digital zoom, a short video can then be decomposed by registax into hundreds of frames that can be stacked to improve noise and resolution. Jupiter shows enough detail to see its bands and the red spot, I think the resolution is high enough to show Venus phases and it will be great to show Saturn and its rings, probably the most interesting target for this unpretentious kind of photography.

I hope this small article encourages more photographers to make tries at the moon and the planets, it can be done even if you don’t have a telescope.

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