jlvsclrk: (StarsLifeDeath by ctbn60)
I went out last night at about 2 AM to walk the dog and it was just the most perfect night ever.  The heat wave had broken and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Even the flies and mosquitoes weren't biting! As for the stars, Sagittarius was due south at its best spot for viewing and the Milky Way was streaming upwards from the spout of the teapot - it was unmistakable that you were looking towards the centre of our galaxy. And then there was the Great Rift caused by dust clouds and more of the Milky Way spreading across through Cygnus and then down to Cassiopeia. Absolutely stunning. There are times I really love living in the countryside and this was definitely one of them.

So I headed home and started to assemble my photography gear to get some more constellation pictures. Camera - check. Telephoto lens - check. Remote shutter release - check. Tripod? Not here, not here, not here, not here, check the garage, not there, go back into the house, not here. Hmmm. Oh yes, must have left it in the car from a few weeks back. Where are the car keys? Not here, not here, not here, not in my sister's purse, not in her backpack or summer travel bag. What about... Not there either. Oh my god, I hope she didn't leave them in the car! No, surely not. Well, maybe she left the car unlocked and I can worry about the keys tomorrow.

So I go out to the driveway and... The car wasn't there. A friend had dropped Barbara off last night, leaving the car in town. In my defense, Barb hadn't told me this because she fell asleep as soon as she got home. But honestly, I walked past the empty driveway at least 4 times - you think it might have registered. Just shows you how unobservant I am.

To give you a hint at what I was seeing, here's a pretty awesome image by amateur astrophotogher, Sean Parker from Tuscon. The reds of the nebulae in this picture don't show to the naked eye, but cameras don't show the full range of brightness that you can perceive with your night vision. (In particular, you can't really see most of the bright stars that mark the constellations in these pictures because they kind of blend in with the rest when you process the image to emphasise the Milky Way. But still, awesome either way.)

Weather permitting, I'll have an even better opportunity to get great photos when we go camping in Algonquin Park in mid-July. I'm a bit worried about the black flies and all, but the viewing there is as good as you can get in Ontario. If anyone just happens to be in the neighbourhood and wants to join us on a Messier marathon, LMK!
jlvsclrk: (StarsLifeDeath by ctbn60)
You may have seen about it in the paper or the net, but most don't get the opportunity to see the transit since you need specialized equipment. I took these using my 8" LX10 Meade telescope, solar filter and camera at prime focus. Exosure is 1/3200s. First contact at 18:06 local time. Second contact (pictured below) at 18:23.


more under the cut )

To see all the pics, here's a link to my Facebook album.
jlvsclrk: (Default)
A while back I threatened to do a few posts on astronomy, but then inertia took over. So here goes!

First off, the Lyrid meteor shower will be at its peak tonight - the later the better as Lyra doesn't even rise in the eastern sky until about 10 PM. Expect to see about 7 meteors per hour.

On the western horizon, Venus continues to put on a dazzling show around sunset. It is absolutely unmistakable - the biggest obstacle to identifying it is assuming its an airplane or other manmade (or alien!) object. Venus is currently in the constellation Taurus the bull.


Touring Orion )

jlvsclrk: (StarsLifeDeath by ctbn60)
Look! See the gorgeous new icon made for me by [livejournal.com profile] ctbn60. I actually had to choose between three stunning versions. The other two were more overtly related to Smallville - one omitted the supernova explosion and instead had a last image of Krypton (the Planet) with the message 'Clark Kent was born here'. The other had a last slide after the supernova explosion saying Krypton: Gone but not forgotten. I love both, but settled on this one because I find the imagery so beautiful.

For details, follow the cut )

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