Well…not quite daily recently…

Posts tagged “stars

Photo #1466 – 11.19.12

Star Streaks and the Milky Way

When we go camping and there is a chance of clear evening skies, I usually try to have my tripod with me so that I can attempt some long-exposure starry exposures.  With dark skies and not a whole lot of nearby light pollution, the night sky above the Joaquin campground in upstate New York is always a great place to capture some starry photos.  This particular photo was taken by pointing the camera nearly straight up and captures a 3-minute exposure of tons of stars with the cloud-like Milky Way serving as a backdrop.  Considering this was just a small portion of the sky, it was amazing just how many stars were lighting up the night!

Photo #1374 – 08.19.12

Thin Veil of Clouds Keeps the Stars Out of Sight…Mostly

A raging campfire is great, and being able to step away from the fire and see a clear sky of uncountable stars is pretty great too.  On this particular night of camping up in New York state, clear skies quickly disappeared as some thin clouds moved in for the night.  Even thought this dashed my hopes of any more long exposure star shots for the night, I thought the wispy clouds looked pretty cool in the night sky above the warm campfire.

Photo #1359 – 08.04.12

Sparks and Stars on a Summer Night

I don’t know about you, but I love winding down in front of a roaring fire on a cool summer night.  Enjoying a campfire on a super clear night with countless stars shimmering overhead is even better.

Have you been able to experience a nice campfire this summer yet??  If not, you had better build one soon before the summer disappears!

Photo #1300 – 06.06.12

Transit of Venus

See that little black disk at the edge of that larger yellow blob?  That is Venus crossing in front of the sun as seen through my telescope with a solar filter.  Yesterday, people across the world witnessed a transit of Venus across the sun, an event that won’t occur again until 2117.

However, the photo above was taken in 2004…because I basically messed up yesterday.  I couldn’t find my solar filter, and then I was going to get some welding glass to make a filter for my camera and telescope, but it was raining and looking like it wouldn’t even be visible.  And then the clouds parted right as the transit started, but my attempts to view and capture the transit were in vain…moral of the story: be prepared, especially when dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime event.  On the upside, the transit I saw and captured in 2004 was one of the greatest astronomical events I have seen, so I am definitely happy I at least experienced that one!

Photo #1234 – 04.01.12

Campground Beneath the Stars

From this photo, it may look like our campground area was pretty well lit, but that is mainly because this was a long 1-minute-plus exposure.  Aside from the roaring fire, around which everyone is gathered, most of the light came from small torches or solar LED lights scattered throughout the camp.  As long as you weren’t staring directly at the fire, you could easily see countless stars in the dark skies above.  And that is exactly what I was doing while this photo was being taken…looking up at the stars above.

Photo #1212 – 03.10.12

Stars and Light Pollution During a Power Outage

Back in October, while in the middle of a multi-day power outage due to the unexpected snowfall at the end of the month, I decided to enjoy the somewhat-darker skies to enjoy a bit of star gazing.  Our complex was completely in the dark, so instead of street lamps and light-filled windows, everything was just black (except for the occasional flickering candle, other small light, or a car’s headlight).  However, surrounding areas had power, so there was still a good amount of light pollution making it difficult to see all of the sky, as you can see in the photo above showing the a silhouette of the apartments.  Still, I was able to see more stars that night at the apartment than I ever had before.

Photo #1167 – 01.25.12

Star Trails and the Milky Way

The Earth sure is one fast rotator!  At the equator, the Earth rotates at a speed greater than 1000 miles per hour…although this speed decreases to practically 0 miles per hour at the poles.  It is this fast rotation that allowed me to open the camera shutter for 12 minutes on a clear, summer night and capture the streaks of starry light in the photo above.  This long exposure also allowed me to capture a section of the Milky Way galaxy as a couple bands of cloud-like fogginess behind the star trails.

Photo #1124 – 12.13.11

9-Minute Star Trail Vortex

I’ve had a few different star trail photos on here through the years, and while this one might not have very long trails like some others, I think it has just long enough trails to create a circular vortex centered on Polaris.  The amount of stars visible in this upstate New York sky on a clear July night this past summer was astounding.

Tonight and tomorrow morning is the peak of this year’s Geminid meteor shower.  While this star trail photo does not contain any meteor streaks, in past years, I have captured a few photos of passing geminids {photo #395}.  Tonight, with the nearly full moon, cold temperatures, and small rate of meteors per hour, I didn’t feel like attempting any photos.  I did, however, spot a nice meteor zipping right through the constellation Orion, so be sure to keep your eyes on the night sky for your chance to see a geminid (sometimes, you can still see a few a day or two after the peak, so keep watching!).

Photo #1070 – 10.20.11

Uncountable Stars and the Milky Way

I really could not tell you how many stars were captured in this 2-minute exposure night sky photo…it might be possible to count the brightest starry streaks, but the fainter stars are just too numerous.  Not to mention all the stars within the portion of the Milky Way running through the center of the photo.

That’s a lot of stars.

Photo #1022 – 09.02.11

Sparks and Stars

A roaring campfire on a chilly evening is always a comforting treat.  If you add some clear, dark skies with too many stars to count, you’ve got a perfect camping night.  That’s what I experienced a few months back when I captured this photo of hot sparks and even hotter distant stars (much, much, much hotter, of course…like 3,000-30,000 degrees Celsius hotter!).

Photo #900 – 05.03.11

12-Minute Circular Star Trails

Camping under clear, starry skies and away from large amounts of light pollution is just plain awesome.  Up in New York at the Joaquin campground {photo #597} last summer, I was able to photograph some great night scenes, including this photo above.  With Polaris located just right of center, this 12-minute exposure of the night sky produced some short star trails swirling about the North Star.  In addition, I unknowingly captured a short, faint meteor (diagonal streak on the left side), so that was a nice bonus since I hadn’t actually seen any meteors while staring at the sky that night.

With this starry photo, I’ve reached 900 Daily Photographs, and it’s hard to believe I’m only 100 away from 1,000!!  Thanks again for checking out my photos, leaving comments, and rating/liking your favorites!

Photo #772 – 12.26.10

Milky Way Above the Smokies

The night skies over the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee can be quite dark at times.  We had some very clear skies on one of our first nights staying in the Smokies, and I was able to capture some neat starry photos, including this >1-minute exposure of the Milky Way rising up from the distant mountain profile.  The Milky Way arced all the way across the sky, and one of the longer exposures I shot really showed our galaxy well {photo #635}.

Photo #709 – 10.24.10

Campfire Glow and Starry Skies

A blazing hot campfire and super clear, dark skies full of thousands of stars…camping is great!

Photo #635 – 08.11.10

11-Minute Tennessee Star Trails

With a foggy-looking Milky Way galaxy serving as a backdrop, the above photo is an 11-minute exposure of the starry skies above our cabin in Tennessee.  Due to the Earth’s rotation, the tiny points of light leave streaks on a long-exposure like this, and in the northern hemisphere, they circle around the North Star (which is just off the bottom right corner).

Speaking of the night sky, keep your eyes peeled on Thursday and Friday nights for meteor streaks from the Perseid meteor shower.  It’s looking like it should be a good one with very little moon interference.  So grab a blanket, lay outside on a nice summer night, and enjoy a meteor show!

Photo #611 – 07.18.10

Starry December Sky

With Orion hanging low in the southern sky, I took this photo on a not-super-cold December night while keeping an eye (and camera shutter) open for Geminid meteors.  Orion is extremely easy to spot during the winter months with the Belt of Orion and hanging sword framed by a rough rectangle (trapezoid I guess) representing the body of Orion the Hunter.

On a nice, clear summer night, look up into the sky and look for some great summer constellations such as Cygnus (the swan), Sagittarius (the archer), Aquila (the eagle) and Scorpio (the scorpion).

Photo #395 – 12.14.09

Geminid Meteor Shower

You have to really look closely in the above photo to find the meteor streak, but it’s there!  Last night, the annual Geminid meteor shower peaked, and in certain really dark-sky locations, upwards of 200 meteors could be seen every hour!  I ended up spotting about 13 in 40 minutes or so, which isn’t too bad considering I was only able to see about a quarter of the sky and some parts were getting a bit cloudy.  And although I took over 100 photos (15-second exposures), I only manage to capture two faint meteors in this patch of sky.

Overall, it was a good show for me as I saw a couple of really bright meteors, and it wasn’t bitterly cold out either.  I definitely lucked out with some clear skies after all the rain yesterday, too.  And although it would have been nice to see more meteors, I did see a lot of airplanes…like the one below that flew through one of my exposures:

Photo #342 – 10.22.09

The Big Dipper

On a clear summer evening, the Big Dipper is easily the most recognizable sight in the northern hemisphere sky.  The Big Dipper is an asterism that is part of the constellation Ursa Major (asterisms aren’t themselves constellations, but are usually patterns of stars that are within one or multiple larger constellations).

In the photo above, the Little Dipper (which is the common name for the constellation Ursa Minor) can also be found in the upper right corner (Polaris, the North Star, is the brightest star on the right hand side, and this as at the end of the ladle of the Little Dipper).

Photo #305 – 09.15.09

Starry Tennessee Night

The other night we had a particularly clear and starry night here in Tennessee at the cabin we’re staying in.  Aside from some front porch lights from neighbors, there wasn’t much light pollution around, and I was able to do some other long-exposure photography and scour the night sky for various constellations and other fun stuff.  In the above photo, the bright dot at the top is Jupiter, and that is our cabin with the Smokies in the background.

Photo #270 – 08.11.09

The Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor Shower

Check out the night sky tonight!  It’s the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, and if the skies are clear tonight (it’s not looking too great here in northern NJ!), you might spot a bunch.  The above photo was taken during last year’s Perseid meteor shower, and I managed to catch a small meteor just above the tree tops.  I believe I saw over 25 meteors that night (only caught two on camera), so not too bad at all!

For more information about this meteor shower, check out this article!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, it was too cloudy (and started getting too bright from the moon) last night, and after sitting outside with Leggs for about 20 minutes, we didn’t see anything…hopefully we’ll have clear skies for the next meteor shower!

UPDATE #2: Two nights later, and the skies are perfectly clear!  I did spot a bright meteor directly overhead while out with Leggs tonight, so at least I saw something.

Photo # 264 – 08.05.09

Venus and the Moon

This past New Year’s Eve, the crescent moon had a close encounter with Venus in the evening sky.  The moon was pretty slender, and Venus was just a bright dot in the darkening sky, but they looked pretty cool that close together.

Tonight, the full moon and Jupiter are having their own close encounter, so if you take a look at the moon, you’ll likely see a bright dot a little ways to the left of it…that’s Jupiter!  If you had a totally awesome telescope right now, here’s what you’d see (the dark swirl on the top of Jupiter is a gigantic debris cloud from some sort of crazy impact that occurred a couple weeks ago!):

Photo #188 – 05.21.09

Milky Way

Did you know that within the Milky Way Galaxy, we are located close to the inner rim of the Galaxy’s Orion Arm, in the Local Fluff inside the Local Bubble, and in the Gould Belt, at a distance of 7.62±0.32 kpc (~25,000±1,000 light years) from the Galactic Center?  Well, now you know!  The above photo was taken up in the very dark skies of upstate New York (although there are some orangish urban lights reflected off low clouds near the horizon).  The band of light slicing coming up from the horizon at an angle is the plane of our galaxy, and it’s definitely one of the more familiar parts of a dark night sky.

Photo #140 – 04.03.09

3 Hour Star Trails

Go outside and check out the stars tonight!  Right now, we’re smack in the middle of ‘100 Hours of Astronomy’, a worldwide event between April 2nd and April 5th.  There are things going on all over the world (check out their website), but it’s just as easy to look outside once the sun goes down and check out the stars in your own backyard.

If you were to stare at the North Star for 3 hours in a reeeeally dark sky, you would see that the stars moved in a circle around the North Star.  You’d also see that stars really close to the North Star hardly move at all, while those farther away moved a whole lot.  The above 3-hour exposure was done on a clear, cold Yukon night in 2007.  I set the camera up before bed, slept for 3 hours, awoke to my watch alarm, and headed outside to close the shutter.  I later found out that the homeowners that rented our cabin, Brett and Eva, saw some northern lights that night, and that is likely why the bottom half is kind of greenish (as opposed to the deep black in the top corners).

Astronomy is fun!

Photo #123 – 03.17.09

Green Swiss Cheese??…Nope, Just Venus and the Sun

Back on June 8th of 2004, you may not have noticed, but Venus passed right in front of the sun.  In astronomy terms, this is called a ‘Transit of Venus’.  Just like our moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun once in a while, the same thing happens with Venus, although this occurs much, much more rarely.  And since it’s so much further away from us, Venus doesn’t blot out the sun entirely but rather moves across the face of the sun as a tiny black disk.

Venus was already most of the way across the sun by the time it rose in New Jersey, but I watched a lot of it through my telescope.  I took this photo through my telescope (using a solar filter, which is why it’s yellow-green…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!) right near the end of the transit as Venus was leaving the face of the sun.  It really did look like a chunk of the sun was just missing!

So if you missed this transit in 2004, be sure to watch the sun set on June 5th, 2012…because after that, the next one won’t be until 2117!  But try to find a telescope and a solar filter…the photo below is what I saw without these, and Venus can be seen as a barely noticeable dark speck towards the upper-left part of the sun (try squinting if you cannot spot it at first)!

Transit of Venus, Non-Filtered View

Photo #102 – 02.24.09

Starry Yukon Nights

On some extremely clear (and really cold!) spring nights in the Yukon, we were treated to a spectacular night sky of countless stars.  This long exposure photo was taken soon after dusk, so the snowy mountains and surrounding landscape still appeared to be fairly bright.  Even so, the number of stars was staggering, and without any form of light pollution in the sky, the stars continued down to the horizon among darkness.

Even without the fantastic Northern Lights, the Yukon night sky is a wonder to behold.  I definitely did not want to go to bed some nights, and could have remained outside for a lot longer all bundled in my warm clothing.  Of course, a wandering caribou could have attacked me in the middle of the night…