Morning Sky Views

Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   Didn’t work today so while waiting for the phone to ring, just in case a sub position opened up, I started making arrangements to do some more photo experimentation of various constellations and planets, and then ending with an Iridium Satellite Flare just before 7 am CDT. For the flare I knew where to look, just slightly northeast and at an altitude of 57 degrees. This would put the flare above and to the right of the North Star Polaris as I face north looking over the roof of my house. This picture used a 3-second shutter speed with the 18mm lens set to F5.7 and the ISO at 1600.
   So I aimed my camera and took a few test shots hoping to be able to frame the stars of the Big Dipper and Little Dipper – which I was able to do as the picture above shows. However by the time the Iridium Satellite did its thing the sky was too bright for the ‘dipper’ stars to be visible as the (banner picture) shows. This picture used a 1-second shutter speed with the 18mm lens set to F8, and the ISO 200.

The Pleiades

The Pleiades

   Before my encounter with the Iridium 3 Satellite I spent about an hour taking pictures of Mars and the backward question mark shape of Leo; Jupiter and the Gemini Twins stars; Orion, and the Orion Nebula. These pictures were taken with a 55mm lens set to various exposure times and ISO settings. I was curious about how long of an exposure or shutter speed I could use without getting ‘star trails’, or a streak of light from each star as the Earth rotates. The picture of the Pleiades used a 55mm lens set for an 8-second shutter speed and there are noticeable ‘star trails’. This more or less confirmed what I had suspected and that a 6-second shutter speed was probably ideal – at least for my camera. So, while I was changing the shutter speed I also played around with the ISO setting and the aperture setting. Each of these had an effect that bears looking into further. Somewhere I’ll find the right mix of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. But then the sky transparency is never the same so that right mix setting may be an elusive thing.

Orion

Orion: 43mm; 4-Sec.; F5.6; ISO 1600

   
Mars and Leo

Mars and Leo: 55mm; 6-Sec.; F5.6; ISO 3200

Jupiter

Jupiter and Twins: 55mm; 6-Sec.; F5.6; ISO 1600

   Click here to read about and see additional pictures of the ISS and Iridium flares.

               Click on each of these thumbnails to see it full size.

   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

ISS Belts Orion

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   This morning the ISS flew in path lasting about 4 minutes that took it from my west toward the southeast. At its maximum visibility at -3-4 magnitude, slightly west of south, and at an altitude of 57 degrees I knew before looking up its path that it would traverse part of the constellation Orion the Hunter somewhere around the belt stars. This graphic from the Starry Night program shows the predicted path the ISS would follow, and based on my direct observation and pictures the predicted path was reasonably accurate.
labeled   Clearly showing up in the pictures are the Pleiades, the Hyades, the pentagon-shaped Auriga, the Gemini Twins forming a sort of right triangle with the bright Jupiter. Click on the thumbnail graphic to see a full-size picture with stars and constellations labeled.
   
   
   
Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   For the fly-by pictures, taken with a Canon Rebel EOS T3i, I attached a fish-eye lens and set the shutter speed for a 6-second exposure time with the aperture at F3.5, and the focal length backed out to 18mm. Clicking on this picture will open an animated series of full-size pictures showing the path of the ISS as a bright line.

Click on picture to see it full size.

Click on picture to see it full size.

   About an hour later the thin 27-day old waning crescent Moon became visible as it rose above the trees on the east side of my backyard.

   Click here to read about and see additional pictures of the ISS and Iridium flares.

   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.