Latest Comic : Thursday, February 21. 2019

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The two satellites

Night sky is home to various satellites, both natural and artificial. I've taken photos of these objects in the past few days and here are a couple them for you to enjoy.
Iridium 97 streaks downward in the northern sky on February 17, 2019

The Iridium satellites are known for their flares caused by the interesting shape of their antennae. I had a chance to observe Iridium 97 moving down the northern sky with my iPhone XS. While the satellite shined noticeably for about twenty seconds, this merging of a 1-minute, 610-photo session reveals that it was still dimly visible for some time before and after that. The rest of the satellite reflects the sunlight, just not as effectively.

Device: iPhone XS
Settings: 26mm - ISO 2500 - 1/15s - f/1.8
Filters: None
Time: 2019-02-17 19:04:46-19:05:46 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
610 photos merged with Startrails 2.3

The Super Moon as the first Full Moon of the Year of the Pig on February 20, 2019

This lunar year's first Full Moon (Jeongwol Daeboreum) was coincidentally a Super Moon. A bigger one would not appear until December 24, 2026. I took this photo just moments after the phase reached its peak, with a visible size of 34' 02.37" and a distance of 350,840km. As a result, it appears nearly 4,000 pixels wide (3,955 pixels, 0.516"/pixel). Unless I keep using the P1000 seven years later, this would be the largest photo of the Moon this camera would ever take.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 100 - 1/400s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2019-02-20 01:11:49, 01:14:07 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
2 photos merged with Pixelmator 3.8.1

Clearest view of ISS yet from Nikon P1000

International Space Station seen on the evening of February 11, 2019

Animation of the ISS overpass
Previous tracking of the ISS with Nikon P1000 was alright, but I felt that it could have been better. Another good tracking opportunity came up yesterday, so I got my equipment ready and had another shot at it. Suffice to say, the results were quite satisfactory. Many of the shots came out quite clearly, you could see the division of each section easily. I did not need to resort to stacking - only the brightness and the sharpness were adjusted here.

The Space Station came closest to the observer on 18:48:49 (third photo) at a distance of 428km. Altitude from the ground was 411km at the time. You can see that the shots before that had the Zvezda module (lowest point in the second photo at 18:48:19) pointing at the observer, while the shorts after that had the Kibo-Harmony-Columbus modules (lower part of the middle section in the fifth photo at 18:49:49) doing that. Another thing to note is that I was looking at the general direction of the Sun, which had just had set below the horizon, before the space station made the closest approach. As the solar panels are always facing the Sun, I would be looking at the back of them in the first and the second photos, which is why they aren't illuminated and visible there.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 100 - 1/400 to 1/640s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2019-02-11 18:48-18:50 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
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Interviewed by KBS for the regional news

My family appeared on the KBS Daegu News 9 on February 3, 2019

During this year's Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year) holidays my family traveled around the country. We visited Daegu on Sunday, February 3, as I read that its National Museum had some interesting activities for the kids in celebration of the year of the Golden Pig.

One such activity was actually colouring wooden decorations in the shape of a pig. While my daughters were busy painting them, a camera crew from KBS (Korean Broadcasting System, a national public broadcaster) entered the room and started recording the area. Then they asked me if they could film us taking part in the activity and subsequently do a brief interview. I told them that it was fine.

The whole thing seemed to be for a regional news segment, so I checked to see if it aired that night. Sure enough, that was the case and my family appeared on the News 9, as you can see above. You can click on the captured frame or [here] to see the entire segment - relevant part starts around 1:30.

Nikon P1000 catches the ISS transiting the Moon

ISS transits the Moon on January 22, 2019 (18% size)

Orbital prediction indicated that the ISS would be seen passing in front of the Full Moon at a place about 20km away from home. Thanks to the Moon being at an altitude of more than 60 degrees, the space station was to pass close to the observer with an angular size of nearly one degree (58.7"). It seemed be a good opportunity for using the 7-frame full resolution burst mode of the Nikon P1000 camera, so I drove to the observation spot despite the cold weather (-4°C) and inconvenient time (3 AM).

Crops of the ISS passing in front of the Moon

There was about one second of difference in the transit time prediction between different tools, and the burst mode could only take the seven photos in a span of a single second. So I took a guess as to when to press the shutter button and hoped for the best. Luckily, I did manage to catch three frames out of it, as you can see here. The results were sharp and large enough to make out the individual solar panels and modules, proving the capabilities of the P1000's telephoto optics.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 200 - 1/1600s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2019-01-22 03:08:23 KST
Location: Yeongam, Korea
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Partial Solar Eclipse of January 2019

Solar Eclipse of January 6, 2019 seen in 2-minute intervals
Eclipse animated at 10min/sec

Good eclipses come by every few years, with lunar ones somewhat more often than solar ones where I live. The last solar eclipse I photographed was back in 2012, and I missed the one on 2016. As if to make up for that, two occurrences would be visible in 2019, with the first one taking place yesterday and the next one the day after Christmas. A better camera and filter than 7 years ago was set up on a window to capture the phenomenon. Strips of cloud interfered at the beginning, and the adjacent apartment building blocked the view for a few minutes towards the end. But the session went quite well otherwise.

Zooming to 2000mm, I could see the jagged outer edges of the Moon obscuring the Sun. But for the purposes of creating a progressive composite and animation, the extreme zoom turned out to be a bit of a waste as I had to reduce the size to 4% and 8% of the original, respectively. I'll need to consider this the next time I take eclipse photos.

Celine and Hayun take a photo of the solar eclipse

Thanks to the eclipse happening in the early Sunday morning, everyone in the family was able to witness the event together. I let the kids follow the progression of the eclipse though the camera's viewfinder, and they were able to take an eclipse photo as well.

Observing the shape of the Sun with a hole punched on a piece of paper

Alternately, I let them know that the eclipse could also be seen indirectly by using a pinhole. Kids had fun poking holes on pieces of paper to see the crescent shapes shining on a wall. I hope the next observation goes just as well and interesting.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 2000mm - ISO 100 - 1/320s to 1/1250s - f/6.3
Filters: ICE N100000 (Neutral Density 16.5 Stop)
Time: 2019-01-06 08:42-10:30 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

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