Archive for the ‘night sky’ Category

June waxing gibbous Moon

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

June waxing gibbous Moon

We’ve had some really good sunny weather for the past few weeks, which has given us some lovely clear skies. That means that I’ve been able to take photos of the Moon on lots of consecutive days!

My ambition is to get a shot of it on every day of it’s visible phases, and then to make a mosaic of them. I must be nearly there now! I must organise and collate the shots and see which days I’m missing.

Even though I’ve only got a fairly small point and shoot, and the quality of my photos aren’t as good or detailed as someone with better equipment, I’m really pleased with my results. The camera is small enough to carry everywhere with me, which I need to do because the skies can change so quickly.

I’ve had the situation where I saw the Moon in a lovely clear sky when I came out of work, but when I arrived home 10 minutes later it had clouded over, and stayed like that for the rest of the evening! Now that I have my camera with me, I stop and take some shots as soon as I see it.

Moon shots

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Full Moon

As anyone who follows my blog or my Flickr photostream will know, one of the things I love to take photos of is the Moon. I love studying it, and looking at it through binoculars, but that’s fleeting. If I take a photo of it, I’ve got a record I can go back to.

My ambition is to take a shot of the Moon on each day of it’s visible phases, and then make a mosaic of them. It’s a while since I started to do it, but our cloudy English weather has made it frustratingly difficult to do.

But during April, May and June so far, we’ve had some lovely sunny weather which has given us clear skies and I’ve managed to take shots of the Moon on quite a few days, some of them being phases that I’ve never managed to get before.

So I’m getting quite excited! The good weather has been forecast to continue, so I may achieve my goal before too long!

The photo at the top is of the last Full Moon taken at 10.30pm on 27th May, and the one below was taken at 8.30am this morning when the waning Moon is 66% illuminated, one day away from being at it’s 3rd Quarter.

Morning Moon

Full Moon at perigee

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

At last yesterday I managed to get a reasonable shot of the Moon when it was (nearly) full! It was very cold outside and there was frozen snow on my car, which had taken a lot of scraping off. So I could only stay out for a few minutes at a time before coming in to warm up and then go out and have another go.

The photo below was taken at 7.30pm, 10 hours or so before the actual moment of the Moon being completely full. But of course I won’t see that from here. It won’t rise until around 6.00pm tonight, so if it’s clear, it will be at least 12 hours past full when I see it again.

The prominent crater Tycho shows up quite well. Tycho is a lunar impact crater in the southern lunar highlands which was named after the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. It’s about 85 kilometers across, and has rays of impact material radiating from it. To see where Tycho is, click on the photo which will take you to my Flickr photostream where I’ve added a note to show where Tycho is. Hold your cursor over the Moon to see it.

I hope to be able to get another shot of the Moon tonight, because today it’s at perigee. This is the nearest point of the Moon’s elliptical orbit in it’s cycle, and today it will be the nearest to us this year, apart from October. It’s distance away is around 359700 km or 223510 miles.

The furthest point of the Moon’s elliptical orbit in each cycle is called the apogee. The more extreme perigees and apogees often occur around January.

Apparently January’s full Moon is called the Wolf Moon which comes from the hungry wolf packs that would howl outside the villages of Native Americans in the coldness of January.

The forecast for tonight is clear skies and very cold, so hopefully I will be able to add another day to my collection of shots of the Moon on every day of it’s visible phases.

Full Moon at perigee

Photographing the Moon

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I’ve been trying to take photos of the Moon, but I’ve only seen it once since it was new just over a week ago. It’s been so cloudy and rainy that I just haven’t been able to find it, which is so frustrating!

I’d love to be able to take a photo of it every day of it’s phase that it’s visible, but the weather so often conspires against me.

So here’s a photo that I took last month when it was at the same phase as it is today – just over 10 days lunation and 75% illuminated.

It’s not a brilliant shot, but for a point and shoot camera, I’m really pleased with it. I love the craters on the terminator. This is a waxing gibbous Moon, five days away from being full.

Moon and craters

The Moon

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I’m facinated by the Moon. I try to study it as much as I can, and I’d love to be able to take a really good photo of it. I haven’t got the equipment to be able to take a really good shot, but using my Canon PowerShot SX200 IS I’ve managed to take a shot that I’m pleased with.

This camera has 12 x optical zoom but using digital zoom as well, I can go to 48 x. I took lots of shots at different zoom lengths and I think this would be around 30 x, according to my camera. The Moon is 87% illuminated and craters can be seen on the terminator, although it is a little bit blurry there. I’ll keep trying to see if I can get a better shot.

The frustrating thing about trying to study and photograph the Moon is that it’s often cloudy or raining so the Moon is hidden. When it can be seen, it’s because it’s lovely and clear, and in the Winter that means that it’s very cold to be outside. But if I could get a good photo, it would be worth it!

Waxing gibbous Moon

Looking for meteors

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Today is the best day to look our for the Perseid meteors. In the Earth’s journey around the Sun, at this time of year we pass through debris and dust that’s been left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, and as the particles burn up when they enter our atmosphere, we can see them as shooting start or meteors streaking across the sky.

I had a look for them yesterday, but I didn’t see a thing! I took a couple of blankets out into the garden, lay on one and wrapped myself up in the other one. I was nice and warm and cosy and it was quite comfortable. It was nice and clear, and as it started to get dark, more and more stars popped out. I could see the Plough and the W-shape of Cassiopeia.

It was lovely and relaxing. It was very quiet with only the occasional dog barking or car on the main road. It was a bit like camping. I enjoyed just lying there smelling the grass and watching moths flying over. I stayed outside for about an hour until it clouded over. If I’d seen some meteors as well, it would have been brilliant!

If it isn’t raining or cloudy tonight, I’ll have another go.

Clear skies

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

This evening when I went out to watch the International Space Station go over, it wasn’t dark yet. The sky looked blue. It didn’t look as if it was cloudly but I couldn’t see any stars so I wasn’t quite sure. Then a few stars started to pop out, so I knew it would be good visibility.

Right on cue over the tree at the end of the road came the ISS with the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked to it. It was coming from the West which is my favourite trajectory because it goes right overhead as I stand in my front garden and travels parallel with the road I live in. It was lovely and bright and as it was clear I could see it for the whole of the pass. It always amazes when I see it to know that it is over 200 miles high.

I’d like to imagine that it looked different and bigger with the Shuttle docked to it, but it really didn’t look any different from usual. It was exciting watching it knowing that, although I may never go to the USA and see the Space Shuttle, it had come to me, right along my road and that there were 13 astronauts gliding above me – a new record set by this mission.

Exactly 40 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had just enterd the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) ready for their Moon landing the following day.

Cloudy skies and Endeavour

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

At the moment where I live we are in a phase of visible passes of the International Space Station. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love to watch the ISS glide gracefully overhead around 240 miles up and that it fascitates me to know that there are people living and working on it.

I went outside earlier this evening when the first of tonight’s visible passes was due but I was disappointed to find that there was thick cloud above me. I knew that I wouldn’t see anything, and I usually go back inside, but tonight I decided to stay outside while it was gliding overhead even though I couldn’t see it. Tonight was special because the Space Shuttle Endeavour is docked to it. I would have loved to have seen them both go over together. When I went back inside I knew that it would only take them just over an hour and a half to travel all the way round the earth and be back again so that I would have a second chance.

This time it was dark, too dark to tell if there were clouds above me, but I couldn’t see any stars which isn’t a good sign. I waited, hoping that there would at least be some gaps in the clouds, and then I saw it. It wasn’t big and bright and right overhead as it had been a couple of nights ago, it was further south and not very clear because of the cloud, but I could see it for at least part of it’s journey overhead. It looked bigger than usual and a different shape, so I thought I could see the Space Shuttle, but it could have just been my imagination!

Endeavour was launched on it’s sixth attempt. It had been held up for over a month by gas leaks and bad thunderstorms storms over the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Eventually it began it’s journey to the ISS the day before the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 on it’s way to the Moon and man’s first Moon landing, using the same launchpad that had been used to launch Apollo 11 on 16 July 1969.

With the addition of the seven astronauts on the shuttle, a new record has been set as it’s the first time that 13 people have been in space together, breaking the previous record of 10. I hope that during the 16 days of the shuttle’s mission, there will be some clear skies for me to have a good view of the ISS and Endeavour docked together.

Moon watching

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

We’ve had some rainy, misty or foggy evenings lately, but we’ve also had a few clear nights. Tonight when I went outside around 8.00pm it hadn’t got dark yet and I could see a beautiful silvery Moon on a background of a lovely blue sky. At first glance I wondered if it was a Full Moon, but then I could see that it wasn’t quite round yet. It’s got two more days to go before it’s full.

I had a look at it through my binoculars and I could see lots of detail – seas, and craters. The craters weren’t as prominent and defined as they have been as now the sun is shining more directly on to the surface there are no shadows to show the high crater walls.

The other clear nights recently were 5 days ago and 3 days ago. On both these evenings, the sun was shining on the Moon at such an angle to show up the craters beautifully, and on the terminator, high crater walls could be seen jutting out into the darkness.

Another two days to go and the whole process will start all over again.

ISS and the Space Shuttle Discovery

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I went outside this evening hoping to see the ISS going over with the Space Shuttle Discovery docked to it. The sky looked a dark velvety blue and I couldn’t see any stars, which wasn’t a good sign. As I looked up, rain fell into my face. That meant no ISS tonight as it would be too cloudy. I was disappointed. I always find it exciting to watch the International Space Station gliding across the sky, but when it has a Space Shuttle docked to it, it’s even more exciting. I’m never likely to go to America to see the Space Shuttle, but when it’s docked to the ISS, it can come to me!

But I did see them both yesterday. They were visible a bit earlier in the evening while the sky was still light blue. I’d just done some shopping and had arrived back at my car in the supermarket car park when it was time to look for them. I was in the perfect position. In a large car park high up, with an open sky and no trees or other obstacles in the way. I didn’t have long to wait. Soon this lovely bright object was moving smoothly across the sky. It looked much bigger than usual as it always does when a Space Shuttle is attached to it. I could even see a rectangular shape jutting out from it. I wonder if that was the solar wings that Discovery had taken up and that had just been fitted, the last ones after more than a decade of construction of the International Space Station.

I’d love to see them again tomorrow, my last chance just before Discovery undocks and begins it’s journey back to Earth, but I’ll be working at the Theatre and will miss it. So I’m glad I saw them yesterday. To me it’s history in the making, an amazing acheivement. But no-one takes any notice. As the two amazing pieces of technology travelled overhead together, people were walking across the car park with their trollies full of shopping, not even looking up and seeing what was above them. What a strange world we live in.