Attempt at Planetshine

On June 1, 2014, it was predicted to be a clear night. It was also predicted, by my Clear Sky Chart app, that the planets would be aligned just right so that you could see four of the five visible planets in the evening sky. Mercury would  be closest to setting, then Jupiter, then Mars, then Saturn. It would’ve made a nice image. Therefore I went to an elevated area to try and image it.

 

My telescope in the evening sky

My telescope in the evening sky

I had to go through various weeds to get to the right location. However, contrary to the Clear Sky Chart app, there were clouds in the sky blocking my view. It was disheartening to see those clouds in the sky despite a prediction of a clear sky. I stayed a bit to see if the clouds would clear, fighting off mosquitoes at the same time. However, it became apparent to me that the sky wouldn’t clear in time. I then tried to take a few four-minute exposure images of the Moon to get a few moonshine images, however, those images turned out to be a bit unclear and unfocused. That trip turned out to be quite a waste. However, I didn’t want to call it a night yet.

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The Moon at dusk

Later that night, the sky cleared up, and I decided to take a few long exposure images of the Moon to try and get the planetshine effect on the Moon. In a crescent Moon, the the majority of the Moon is dark, due to its position relative to the sun. However, it is not completely dark. If someone aimed a camera at the moon and collect enough light, one could see the darkened side of the Moon. That is because the Earth reflects sunlight as well. The light collected from reflected light from the Earth is called Planetshine or Earthshine in the case of Earth. It can make for a unique picture of the Moon. I was able to take a few pictures of the Moon with the Earthshine visible. However, I have yet to stack the images. Here are two image I took:

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Crescent Moon

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Earthshine visible on the Moon.

 

After I got those photoes, I decided to finally call it a night. I brought all my equipment inside and got some rest. While I have been taking potentially great photoes, I have yet to co-add them and see the final result. In order to move forward, I need to find an effective way to co-add images, convert RAW image files to TIFF or JPG files, and produce phenomenal images. Once I can master that, then I can move forward. I hope I can do that one day. Until then, I will keep doing what I do. Wish me luck!

The Old Moon in the New Moon’s Cradle

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year to everyone and Merry Armenian Christmas (January 6th) to all my Armenian friends.

On January 3rd, as the sun set, I noticed in the navy blue sky, that a thin crescent moon was visible in the sky. Therefore, I decided to take my telescope out and take images of the moon.

For Christmas, I got nice additions to my telescope: a new T-Ring and T-adapter for use with DSLR cameras. Therefore, I decided to take the photos using my brother’s DSLR camera, which was a Canon EOS D60.

I took my telescope out in the bitter cold night at -16 degrees celsus, and quickly got it set up aligning it to the crescent moon. Looking at the crescent moon, I saw a small portion of a mare, and many craters on the lower part of the crescent. It was beautiful. Since I was using a DSLR camera, I could take long exposure images, which I could not do using my CCD imager. With that feature, I have the ability to obtain different kinds of pictures of the different bodies of the solar system. I quickly went about taking the photo.

I experimented with the exposure setting, and tried to figure out how to eliminate the wobble that I created by pressing the shutter button. Eventually, I found the right setting for the image and captured a fair number of images of the moon. The moon captured in my images were two second exposure photos with the other settings set to auto. It showed the lit portion of the moon completely white due to the collection of light from the moon, and the dark portion dimly lit. The reason that happened is because the Earth also reflects the sunlight that it receives from the Sun. The reflected sunlight travels to all different directions, and a certain amount of the sunlight hits the moon. This phenomenon is called Planetshine, and it creates this photographic phenomenon called, “The Old Moon in the New Moon’s Cradle.” It is a unique sight for those who know how to find and capture it.

Below is a comparison of the crescent moon and the Old Moon in the New Moon’s Cradle.

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The Crescent Moon

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The Old Moon in the New Moon’s Cradle

After the Moon set below a row of houses, out of my sight, I decided to focus my attention on Jupiter. It would be reaching opposition the next day, which means it would begin moving backwards relative to the Celestial Sphere, it orbits closest to the Earth, which makes it seem closer than it actually is, and it is visible all night, much like a Full Moon. Since the next day was predicted to be cloudy, I decided to look at it now.

Looking at Jupiter through the DSLR camera was a different (no, difficult!) experience than through the eye piece. Jupiter looked quite over-exposed. Any attempt to take a long exposure image of Jupiter failed as the camera wobbled too much and my telescope tracking feature was not doing a good job at keeping the image still. I didn’t have enough technique to take a good image at that time.

As a result, I decided to pack it in for the night. I took all my equipment inside and got warm by the fire. It would usually be over for the night, but the sky was still clear, and I felt the need to take my telescope out once more. Therefore, I did just that.

Stay tuned for the rest of this blog post.

WORKS CONSULTED

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_%28planets%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetshine