Moon Meets the Twins


   Wednesday morning October 3rd the 23-day old waning crescent Moon will be a few degrees from Pollux and Castor, the two stars making up the head of each of the Gemini Twins.

   
   
   

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Venus and the Twins


   Over the next few evenings, June 7th to 10th, the inner planet Venus will pass the star Pollux, marking the head of one of the Gemini Twins. Pollux is on the left side as we view the ‘Twins’ face-on. This animated graphic is set for 10 pm CDT and shows the daily movement of Venus toward the east, combined with the daily motion of the stars toward the west as the Earth revolves around the Sun.


   The separation between Venus and Pollux will vary from about 4.5o to about 5.5o allowing at least these two to fit within a binocular field of view.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

From Feet to Heads


   Over the last several days the Moon in its waxing phases has moved eastward from near the feet of the Gemini Twins to near the heads (sort of) of the Twins. By Wednesday May 11th the 5-day old Moon is about 14o from Pollux, the twin on the left as we view them.

   
   
   

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

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 This Morning

Click on picture to see it full screen size.

Click on picture to see it full screen size.

   This morning was picture perfect, literally, despite a few high cirrus clouds and the threat of dense fog moving in. Overnight the temperatures dropped to around 50F after a day of rain so it was cool and wet in the backyard as I set up. For this labeled picture the camera had been set to an ISO of 1600, aperture to F5.6, shutter speed was 2.5 seconds, and the lens was backed out (focal length) to 18mm. The original that this was cropped from is 5184×3456 in size.
Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   This was the second sighting, or fly over, for the ISS this morning with the first one around 4:30 am. The path that one followed was too low for me to see it, however this one lasted for about 6 minutes from 6:46 am – 6:52 am, and its path took it to an altitude of 85 degrees, or nearly straight up. It passed close by the star Capella in Auriga the Charioteer as it reached its greatest altitude heading for the southeast horizon. Along the way, as this graphic shows, the ISS went between the stars marking the Gemini Twins heads, Castor and Pollux and the planet Jupiter.
   
ISs and Moon

ISS and Moon

And then went right past the waning crescent Moon as this picture shows. This is cropped from the original 5184×3456 picture. Specs for that picture are aperture at F8, 1/3 second shutter speed, ISO 800, and the lens (focal length) was set at 25 mm.
   The slideshow below is a series of pictures taken as fast as I could click the shutter release. Each exposure is at the same settings as the cropped picture of the ISS and Moon. In each of the pictures the ISS appears as the moving small dashed line.

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

   

                  Move the cursor over any picture to bring up the controls.

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   Some software and websites for tracking and planning photo opportunities. A Kindle App, ISS Detector Pro, the ISS Sightings web site, SATVIEW web site, and the Starry Night software.

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