Astronomy

April 2015 Lunar Eclipse Photos

Got up to see the start of the lunar eclipse here is Florida (around 6:15). Got the kids out of bed long enough for them to walk out into the back yard and see the first few bites be taken out of the Moon. I stayed out and took as many photos as possible until the Moon dipped down below my local horizon. I was using a Canon Digital Rebel XT with a 28-135mm telephoto lens with image stabilization. My favorite image is the one at the top of this post (ISO 800 with the full 135mm telephoto). I included all the photos that turned out half way decent below (inluding a photo I snapped with my iPhone).

Lunar Eclipse Saturday April 4th

There is a total lunar eclipse visible here in North America this Saturday morning (as well as South America, Asia and parts of Australia. If you have never taken the opportunity to see a lunar eclipse set an alarm Saturday morning and step outside for a few minutes and enjoy the view. No special equipment needed. If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope that is even better, but again not required.

There are two online resources I really like for determining just how much of the eclipse you can see from your location and when:

Sky and Telescope:

Shows some good figures and a table of the major events for North America

Time and Date:

Detects your location from the browser and shows you the start and end times for the eclipse in your location along with an animation of what you will see.

Below is an image I took during a lunar eclipse in 2007. This was taken by performing a direct imaging technique using my DSLR attached to the focuser on my 10" dobsonian telescope. Not perfectly in focus but I captured the amazing colors of the eclipse.

Photo 365 Project

Yesterday I decided to take on a photo 365 project. This is where you challenge yourself to take a photo everyday for a year and post it. Some people do this because they are aspiring photographers and others do it as a way to connect with other photographers. I am doing it for one simple reason...to get in the habit of taking more photos. All too often I find myself, after getting together with friends or family, realizing that I had not taken a single photo. I have 3 kids and they are growing up quickly and the more photos I take the better. If I get in the habit of taking a photo and posting it everyday for a year then it will train me to think more about taking photos as I go through my day. I'm also hoping to get inspiration from other people's photography as a way to better my own skills. I've also been meaning to get into astrophotography for years, but have never done it. Maybe this will help me take a step towards doing it.

If you want to join me or are already an active photographer look me up on Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/1wayswim/

I have also added my Flickr photostream to a dedicated page on this website. Just scroll up and look for the page called "Flickr".

If you are on another photo sharing service and want connect just comment to this post or drop me a line via the Contact page on this website. I'd love to see your work.

Here's to a year full of taking more photos (I hope)...

Cosmos is now on Netflix

2014-08-14 - cosmos.jpg

The new astronomy series on Fox called "COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY" is now available for streaming on Netflix! I'm not sure how long it's been available. I just stumbled on to it last night when I was browsing for something to watch. So what it this TV show about and why should you care?

The original Cosmos television series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" was aired on PBS in the fall of 1980. Carl Sagan was the host of the 13-episode series, which was based on Carl Sagan's book...also called "Cosmos". Carl Sagan was a professional astronomer and astrophysicist who was best known for his public outreach concerning astronomy. I literally grew up with Carl Sagan. As I kid I would check out his books from the library and watch episodes of Cosmos on PBS whenever I could catch them.

Fast forward 34 years. Seth MacFarlane was instrumental in bringing back a fresh and new version of Cosmos to Fox television. Seth was a very unlikely person to do this. If you don't know who Seth MacFarlane is, he was a writer and animator for Hanna-Barbera and most notably is the voice actor behind several of the main characters in the Fox TV show "Family Guy." But despite his comedic origins he is a true geek at heart. He knew it was time to bring Cosmos back and he made it happen. Seth MacFarlane became the executive producer for "COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY", and the rest is history. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History (the modern day version of Carl Sagan), was the obvious choice as the host for the new Cosmos series and did an amazing job!

I was fortunate enough to get to attend a sneak peek preview of the first episode of the new Cosmos series at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center earlier this year with my daughter. It was an unusually cold evening for Florida and we were huddled in the stands outside to watch a special viewing of the 1st episode of this new series several weeks before it aired on television. After the viewing a live question and answer session was held online with everyone involved with the show. It was pretty cool, during the interviews they were displaying a live feed of all the tweets coming in on Twitter and a few of mine came across the screen. It was a very memorable night and I'm so glad I got to share it with my daughter (who has recently told me she wants to become a professional astronomer).

My daughter and I at the world premier of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" at the KSC Visitors Center

My daughter and I at the world premier of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" at the KSC Visitors Center

So if you aren't a space geek like me, why should you watch this show. Believe it or not, this show was not made for people like me. I'm already hooked. The show is for everyone else out there that thinks space is kinda cool but doesn't really understand the first thing about astronomy, planetary exploration and scientific discovery. This show breaks all of these things down into bit-sized chunks and gives them to you in a visually stunning and entertaining way. You don't have to have a PHD in "space geek" to appreciate this show, only a curiosity about universe and our place in it. Do your self a favor and check out a few episodes, you won't regret it.

If you aren't a Netflix subscriber, there are other ways to watch the show.

  1. Buy individual episode of the series or the entire thing with Amazon Instant Video
  2. Buy the DVD or Blu-Ray set from Amazon
  3. Check your local library. If it is available you can check out the DVD or Blu-Ray of the series for free (most people don't realize that your public library has lots of great TV shows and movies available for checkout)

Vincent Award #22: Luke Gruenert

This week's Vincent Award goes to Luke Gruenert who spent 700 hours building a very cool telescope. Luke built what is called a binocular or telescope. Unlike a normal telescope which only has one eyepiece and one "light bucket" or tube, a binocular telescope uses two tubes and merges the images from each light source into a single image. Why is that such a big deal? Images look incredible when viewed through a binocular telescope because the image has extra depth, an almost 3D look and feel. To top it all off this was Luke's 1st telescope build AND he took the image in the original story from cnet using the camera in his HTC One smart phone. Very cool! Not too bad for what started out as a senior project for high school.

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