Astro Photography Category

2016 Perseid Meteor Shower

I got out to Sunset Crater National Monument northeast of Flagstaff, AZ to photograph and just bask in what turned out to be an awesome display. Running a couple cameras, I was not counting meteors every minute of every hour, but kind of collected numbers in batches: 0930-1030Z = 63...

Nightscape Image Editing Tutorial

I just wrapped up a five-part video series that describes one of the methods I use to process nightscape photography. In particular, it focuses on dealing with excessive noise--in this case, working with a lens that only opens to f/3.5. At smaller apertures, one needs to boost ISO to especially...
Before the bad weather rolled in, I drove out to Cinder Hills Overlook at Sunset Crater to get some dark sky shots of the comet. The tail was not as prominent as it was from home the night before. After checking out the shots, it looks like it was fanned...
Venus and Mercury have been sharing space in the evening sky recently. This shot was taken along Route 66, east of Flagstaff. Venus-Mercury Conjunction - 8 January 2015 - 6:01PM (9 January 2015 - 0101 UT) I haven't made a trip to a dark sky location to observe, sketch and...

The Belt of Venus at Sunset Crater

The full Moon was rising on a clear evening with fresh snow on the ground. I knew Sunset Crater would be in top form, veiled in white, with the Belt of Venus framing it beautifully. I wasn't sure whether the moon would be in good position to add the finishing...
I drove out to Sunset Crater tonight to get a shot of an Iridium Flare, and brought my equatorial mount with me to follow up with some images of Comet Jacques. Its beautiful turquoise coma was drifting through the Cassiopeia Milky Way this evening and showed up even in my...

Night Shots with a New Camera

After ten years with my Canon EOS Rebel-S/300D, I just upgraded to a new Canon T3i. First light last week consisted of a series of night shots down my street featuring Orion and a moonlit sky. Going from 6 Mexapixels to 18 is kind of startling, but one of the...
Photograph of Winter Milky Way over Sunset Craterwith sketches of deep sky objects in the area. Move mouse over sketch above to see where each deep sky object resides.Click image for larger version. Click here for larger version without call-out lines.. . . . . Other Print Versions: Vertical...
Orion, Canis Major, and the Winter Milky Way soar over Sunset Crater Click for larger image FEB 13, 2010 - 01:00 AM MST Canon EOS 300D + Kit Lens @ 21 mm • ISO 800 • f/4.5 Composite: 11 x 30 sec. aligned, stacked, and composited separately for sky...
Orion and Canis Major setting over Sunset Crater Click for larger image JAN 15, 2010 - 03:00 AM MST Canon EOS 300D + Kit Lens @ 21 mm • ISO 200 • f/4.5 Composite: 5 x 30 sec. aligned and stacked for sky + 5 min. foreground While observing...

ISS - SEP 28, 2009

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Just 2 days after a great pass on Saturday night, the ISS made another flyover at an even higher altitude (86 degrees). Interestingly, this made it easier to track, since the dob required very little rotating as I followed it up and down. I managed to navigate Dobson's hole without...

ISS - SEP 26, 2009

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The ISS made a brilliant pass over Flagstaff last night, culminating at 81 degrees. The kids came outside with their friends to watch while I contorted around the Dobsonian shooting photos with the Canon 300D. As before, pivoting around Dobson's Hole and reacquiring the racing, coppery point of light was...
A couple weeks ago, while at the SAC meeting at Lowell Observatory, Padraig Houlahan noted that an Iridium Satellite was going to flare up to -8 magnitude shortly after the meeting. I had never seen one of these reflective rascals before, so I made sure to set up the camera...
This image was shot early November 6, 2005 and focuses on the Milky Way around the constellation of Cassiopeia. Clicking this image will take you to a larger image that has a rollover graphic showing labels for visible DSOs and constellations. (Combined size of the image and rollover is about...

17P / Holmes - November 19, 2007

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My Comet Holmes sleep deficit has been hard to overcome. I'm a little bummed that I haven't been able to keep sketching its progress over the last week or so as it's grown larger than the sun. I've really wanted to get some photographs of it now that it's...

17P / Holmes - November 19, 2007 Update

f/11 - 3 x 7 minute exposures f/7.1 - 3 x 5 minute exposures I had an opportunity to process the photographs I shot of 17P/Holmes Sunday night (Nov. 18/19). I had shot 5 minute, 7 minute and 10 minute exposures at both f/7.1 and f/11. The f/11 shots produced tighter...

Observing Report - 08.24.2004

After a few days of aggravating monsoonal cloud bathings, things cleared up and I finally got a great viewing session in this past weekend. I got started Saturday night at about 8 pm and got my first look at the moon with the telescope. The brilliant hugeness of it was...

Observing Report - 09.11.2004

Saturday night, 9/11/04, I had my first observing field trip. Every near-new-moon Saturday, the Coconino Astronomical Society has standing arrangements for observing at some sites around Flagstaff, weather permitting. I got in touch with Bill Ferris (the CAS point man) to see what the latest arrangements were. We ended up...
Flagstaff Observing - Dec. 10 & 11, 2004 I met Bill Ferris and Max Oeschlaeger once again, in the lower parking lot at the US Naval Observatory to take advantage of some calm, dark skies this past Friday. Bill's 18" Obsession was already set up, and Max had his recliner...
One of the images I shot on November 5, 2005 focuses on the Milky Way around the constellation of Auriga. Clicking this image will take you to a larger image that has a rollover graphic showing labels for visible DSOs and constellations. (Combined size of the image and rollover is...
On the evening of November 5th, I had an opportunity to observe at Anderson Mesa with Bill Ferris, Dave Saunders, and Marc Wiley. After a sketch of M45, and another try at G1/Mayall II, I moved on to some piggyback, wide-field photography. For all shots, I used my Canon Digital...
One of the images I shot on November 5, 2005 centered on the constellation Orion and a swath of the Winter Milky Way. I had intended to optimize it further and label it, but I've been putting it off. There were a number of gradients and intersecting color casts that...
Way back on November 5th and 6th, 2005 I shot a few images along the Winter Milky Way. This one was centered on the constellation Canis Major. Like the Orion Milky Way image, I put this one off due to processing issues. Since the shot goes right down to the...

A Flare from Iridium 45

All's still quiet on the sketching front. However, I was able to catch a mag. -7 Iridium Flare outside my front door last night. It's amazing how bright these things get. And...it's easy to see how someone seeing a flare for the first time might easily add it to their...

A Tendril of Stars

While going over the Milky Way image I just finished processing, my eye kept being drawn to a rope of stars peeling away from the Great Rift in Serpens Cauda, through IC 4665 in Ophiuchus, and on up into Hercules. I think this subtle tentacle of stars is probably emphasized...
On the evening of Sunday, June 8th, I had the pleasure of visiting Kitt Peak National Observatory and participating in the Advanced Observer's Program--an overnight observing session with one of the program's RC telescopes. I attended with four friends, Curt, Rob, Brazos, and Ken. Curt was the mastermind of...

C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) - JAN 1, 2005

Observation Notes: Tonight, in my 10 X 50 binoculars, Machholz was starting to show a longer dust tail. I took some pictures during breaks in the passing clouds. This is a stack of 11 images ranging in exposure from 2 to 6 minutes. Exposures are with the Canon Digital Rebel...
I went to town on the light pollution in the image, and finally got something that would let me pop the tails out some more. It made a huge difference. The coma is still obviously green. But now the ion tail appears blue, while the short dust tail is a...

C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) - JAN 6, 2005

Comet this. Comet that. Sorry. This thing is just too cool. It's right up on the Pleiades now, and the clouds had mercy enough for some pictures tonight. Light pollution was pretty noticeable in the shots, and processing it out is killing the tails. But here's where I'm at so...

C/2007 N3 (Lulin) - FEB 20, 2009

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Photo of C/2007 N3 (Lulin)Click for larger image. Comet Lulin is approaching opposition on February 25, so that leaves a very small window to observe its fantastic anti-tail structure. After opposition, both dust and ion tails should be overlapped on the east side of the comet. I had planned...
Photograph of Columbia Scientific Balloon AssemblyJune 11, 2009 - 8:42 PM MSTClick image to view larger version. One evening, earlier in June I read an email alert that a scientific balloon was crossing central Arizona. I ran outside with my family to check it out. To the naked eye, it...
Tonight's conjunction was a beautiful sight in the dwindling twilight. McMillan Mesa provided a wide open view of the western horizon as the lunar-planetary trio sunk lower. Thin cirrus, and a fresh contrail added color and interesting geometry to an already stunning scene. To cope with the wide dynamic...
Situated on the west side of the Lowell Observatory Mars Hill campus is a picturesque telescope dome nestled in the trees. One night last year, I shot a photo of it lit by a waxing moon and nearby sodium vapor light. Auriga can be seen setting just over the...

Hall Dome at Anderson Mesa

I decided to revisit a variety of older photos recently and try reprocessing them. In particular, I've had a really difficult time processing the noise out of my short, 30 second landscape & sky shots. After seeing some amazing sub-minute night photos by David Harvey, I was inspired to give...
After seeing the stunning launch of Discovery the week before, I was really hoping to photograph it while it was docked to the International Space Station. We had a very good pass on Monday, June 9, with an 87° culmination. The last time I photographed the ISS, I used...

In Pursuit of a Green Flicker

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Until a few weeks ago, I've never made a serious attempt to look for a green flash on the setting sun. My horizons are treed and mountainous. And when I have had access to an ocean or flat desert horizon, there have either been clouds or other things to...
I'm about to disappear on vacation for a couple weeks so I thought I'd leave you with a few photographs. The July 2007 issue of Astronomy magazine due out in the next few days has an article about Brian Skiff, the LONEOS observatory, and the hunt for near earth objects....
After catching glimpses of Supernova 2005cs in M51 last week. I thought I'd have a try at photographing it. It's been 10 months since I last hooked the camera into the eyepiece and messed with imaging something. (Piggyback wide-field shots are so much easier =) Anyway, I learned a few...
Observation Notes: This was a great night to observe Mars. A dust storm has been brewing in Chryse for the past few days, and I wanted to try and catch it in the act. When I made my first observation of the evening at OCT 22, 2005, 05:30 UT, the...
While observing comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) Friday morning, I shot some photos of what I thought was a beautiful sight. Although moonlight is bad for deep sky observing, it does illuminate the landscape and makes for interesting night scenes. I usually observe at Cinder Hills Overlook when I drive out...
Since the Orion image I just posted was such a major project to process, I thought I should post my processing steps here for posterity, suggestions, or outright criticism. I definitely have room for improvement. Here is the initial image that consists of 3 stacked images to help average out...
There's been a triple-conjunction in the works the past couple weeks. Saturn, Venus and Mercury have been edging closer to each other. On the way back from a trip to Oklahoma, we spotted the trio forming a nice line along the ecliptic at sunset about 50 miles outside Flagstaff. I...

Scutum-Sagittarius Milky Way Photo

Click on the above image to bring up a rollover graphic with labels for both deep sky objects (hover mouse over the image) and labels for dark nebulae (click mouse on image). The three images total 1 Mb. If you prefer to view them separately, those links can be...

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