Archive for the ‘Stargazing’ Category
Stargazing LIVE returns for a third three-night series from 8-10 January 2013 to encourage everyone – from the complete beginner to the enthusiastic amateur – to make the most of the night sky.
If you have clear skies, this spectacle will almost be impossible to miss after the Sun has set.
See the below diagram for positions of the crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter – They will be an awesome sight!
Beginners Guide To Aurora
Here is a very quick beginners guide to explaining aurora
Aurora = The Northern (or Southern) lights/ Aurora Borealis/ Australis
Usually seen near the poles of the Earth, but can be seen further South in the UK or USA.
So how and where does it come from?
“Coronal Mass Ejection” = A load of solar material hurled out of the Sun. A big one can contain billions of tons of “plasma”.
Plasma hits Earth’s “magnetosphere” causing “geomagnetic storms” = Aurora, also known as the Northern or Southern lights.
Geomagnetic storms are measured using a scale called the “Planetary Kp index” ranging from 1 to 9. 1 being low and 9 being a very heavy storm.
The higher the Kp index the higher the likelihood of Aurora and the further South it can be seen. 5 = Scotland 8+ Southern England.
Geomagnetic storms and aurora are very unpredictable and forecasts can be very vague, we don’t know the intensity or where the aurora can be seen from until it hits.
Here is a link to NOAA Space Weather Scales
On January 22nd 2012, skywatchers in the northern hemisphere were rewarded with amazing displays of aurora. The cause of these displays was a Kp level 5.67 geomagnetic storm originating from solar activity on the 19th of January, produced visible aurorae throughout the northern hemisphere and viewers as far south as northeast England had great auroral views.
Here is a selection of aurora images and videos taken during the event.
Sirius – The Twinkling Star
During the winter months and around this time of year, after dark we in the northern hemisphere are able to see the mighty constellation of Orion rise high in the sky with a very bright companion in a nearby constellation: Sirius – The Dog Star.
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and can easily be found in the faint constellation of Canis Major to the left and below Orion. Its name comes from ancient Greek meaning “glowing” or “scorcher.”
Sirius (a CMa) is the alpha star in this trusty hound and is roughly 8.5 light years away from Earth, making it one of the closest stars to us. It has a tiny companion star making it a binary system composed of “Sirius A” the main component (which is a white main sequence star) and “Sirius B,” a white dwarf star. As seen with the naked eye, Sirius can be seen to twinkle many different colours low in the winter evening sky. Read the rest of this entry »
The weather over the past few days has been amazing. Lovely crisp blue skies, amazing sunsets & wonderfully clear night skies. And I’ve been using this to my advantage, taking as many photos of the stars as I can.
I had the idea to photograph the Orion Nebula (see above) for a few nights but I was waiting for the sky to become fully clear. I first photographed the nebula when the sky was hazy & the full moon was casting its glow across most of the sky. The photograph I got on that night was amazing (to me, it was amazing, obviously it’s not amazing to those with epic telescopes & satellites deep in space ;p) & it surprised me because I never expected to be able to capture a photograph like this. I thought it was reserved for people with powerful telescopes!
I made a pact with myself that I would go out there again when the moon wasn’t due to rise until 3am & when there was less haze around.
That night happened a few days later. It was -2 & there was frost on the ground so I wrapped up extra warm & took the camera out to cool (tell me if I’m wrong but letting the sensor cool on your camera helps reduce noise…I think). After a little while I started to photograph the nebula using various different settings. Now, you all know that the earth spins, this is what gives us night & day. Therefore, if you set your camera up to expose for 30 seconds, you’re going to get light trails instead of a still (for want of a better word) image. As my camera ISO goes up to 12000, I stepped it right up & I exposed for 3.2 seconds. For me, this is the best way to be able to capture a still shot without using a tracking device. I did, however, find that ISO 12000 was too noisy so I stepped it down to 5000. And that seemed to do the trick. I imported the shot into Lightroom, tweaked around with some settings & this is what I came out with.
I used a Canon 7D with a 90-300mm lens.
I’m pretty happy with it. Next step is to get a new mirror for the telescope (we accidentally knocked it over & the mirror smashed inside) & an adapter for my DSLR. Then we’ll be away! Hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading. If you have any questions you can either leave them in the comments box or you can join me on twitter (tweeting as @_purpleface) or facebook (facebook.com/purplefacephotography).