Entries tagged as star

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

Today’s “The Toon-Box”

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Nikon P1000 observes ISS-Sun transit

Nikon CoolPix P1000 observes the Sun next to Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope

Encouraged with the results from the previous observation, I took the Nikon P1000 outside during the day to take the photos of the ISS crossing in front of the Sun. Last time I was able to see the transit at home was three and a half years ago. I also got my Celestron telescope out as a backup in case any one of the equipment failed to record the phenomenon. The camera needed a solar filter like the telescope, so I bought an ND100000 glass filter online for US$40 that provided the same amount of light reduction.

Full-resolution composite of the ISS passing in front of the Sun on November 3, 2018 (click for the full photo)

Although the P1000 has burst mode, it can only take seven photos in a span of a second. The window of opportunity was too narrow, so instead of taking the risk I used the 4K 30fps video capability instead. It would sacrifice image quality, but I was sure to get the shot if the frame and focus were right. And sure enough, the transit was captured successfully as you see above.

Stacked image of the ISS shows the details

The result may not be not quite as sharp as using a telescope, but much of the features of the space station were distinguishable. Perhaps I should try the burst mode the next time I get the opportunity to see if that makes a difference.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 400 - 1/500s - f/8
Filters: ICE N100000 (Neutral Density 16.5 Stop)
Time: 2018-11-03 10:48:02 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
17 photos processed with Pixelmator and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Sombrero Galaxy

Sombrero Galaxy seen on the night between April 18 and 19, 2018 (25% size)

I was looking to photograph a galaxy that was shaped distinct enough to look like something other than a blob of fuzzy light ball under limited equipment and conditions. Looking through the available targets, I picked out the Sombrero Galaxy, also known as Messier 104. This is a spiral galaxy in the Virgo constellation that resembles the shape of a sombrero, a Mexican style wide-brimmed straw hat.

As you can see here, the observation and the photography were successful. The "brim" definitely makes the galaxy easily identifiable, helped by the use of a filter to cut down the ambient light pollution. The photo isn't quite as smooth as I liked due to the field rotation inherent in the Alt-Az mount. This prevented me from using an exposure time longer than a minute, and I had to compensate with a high ISO setting.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (1500mm) - ISO 3200 - 60s - (f/10)
Filters: Baader Moon & Skyglow
Time: 2018-04-18 23:08 ~ 2018-04-19 00:48 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
7 photos stacked with DeepSkyStacker 3.3.4

Nebulas and galaxies in the spring sky

Orion Nebula (Messier 42, 25% size)

I haven't taken a look at nebulas and galaxies in several years - the last time I did so was back in November 2015. With the clear evening skies persisting for a few days, I thought that it was a good time to make a return observation. The easiest, and thus the first target was the bright Orion Nebula. I first made several attempts with my iPhone X, but it did not yield the level of quality I wanted and switched to Sony A5000 for the result above. As it was April, the nebula was heading towards the horizon in the southwestern sky and thus subject to less than dark background and drowning out darker portions.

Bode’s Galaxy (Messier 81, 38% size)

Moving to the northern sky, I took a look at something I haven't checked out since moving to Naju - the Bode's Galaxy and the Cigar Galaxy. I last saw them in May 2014 in Suwon. Due to the worsening light pollution I can't say I had better observation conditions, but I did have better equipment now. And the results speak of this advantage, as the galaxies were captured in finer detail. I especially like how the variation of brightness appears in the Cigar Galaxy below.

Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82, 38% size)


Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + f/6.3 focal reducer
Device: Sony A5000 (prime focus)
Settings: (945mm) - ISO 1000(#1) / 2500(#2) / 3200(#3) - 30s - (f/6.3)
Filters: None
Time: 2018-04-09 20:23-20:38(#1) / 22:27-22:40(#2) / 22:49-23:10(#3) KST
Location: Naju, Korea
5(#1) / 10(#2) / 13(#3) photos stacked with Deep Sky Stacker 3.3.4

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