Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Week of Comet Images and Astrophotography

We have been blessed with clear skies and for the past week Renita and I have been able to take nightly images of the Comet Neowise. We have also taken images of the first crescent moon and parts of the Milky Way Galaxy.
We had problems the nights of the 15th and 16th. Here's the first crescent moon on the 21st,
This is an image of the star field that including Cassiopia and the Androneda Galaxy
The Sagittarius Arm including Scorpio
As I mentioned all the images were taken with our Cannon dslr Camera using the 18-55 mm and the 75-300 mm lens,using the manual focus and the manual mode.  We hope to take lots more!  Clear skies

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Seeing Comet Neowise

Last night we went out to see Comet Neowise. We set up our cameras, got ready with our binoculars
and sure enough after sunset we saw what we thought was the comet. However the location of the supposed comet was not correct and so I doubted myself. I wondered if I had been confused, (not the first time), after all the comet should look like a fuzzy ball when first spotted. As ones eyes adjust the tail should appear and it would disappear in the west as the earth rotates.

A great horned owl flew up and landed near us as if to say this is my hunting ground so please leave. It finally flew away and later we saw it land on an porty-potty out on the golf course. It got darker and the stars appeared, Jupiter and Saturn rose over the Salt Range and we waited until we could see all the stars of the Big Dipper.
Renita kept scanning the sky with her binoculars and suddenly she said ," I see the fuzzy ball of the comet's nucleus"! It got darker still and sure enough even I could see it along with it's spectacular tail.
I started to take image after image and finally got my first ever image of Comet Neowise. The reason we hadn't seen it before is because it was way past my bedtime.
After taking quite a few images with our Cannon dslr camera, (any dslr camera should work), I put our camera away and sat down simply enjoying the sight of such beauty. Renita was nice and snug but I had to get out a blanket as I had dressed in just shorts and a tee shirt, (you would think someone who had lived in Wyoming for forty plus years would know better,, (our humidity here is about ten percent and as soon as the sun goes down it gets cold).
Later we returned home and our skies are so dark that we could see the comet from our patio. We also can see the Milky Way. Tonight we will go back out and take more images. How often do you get to see a bright comet? Clear skies

If you want to try imaging the Comet there are lots of good web pages, but this is what worked for us.
Put your camera on a tripod. Change from landscape, after you take a picture of the sunset, to the manual setting change the exposure to four seconds, and change the iso to 3200 and you are set. Change the focus from auto focus to manual!You can select these settings during the day and it ill not affect your taking normal pictures during the day or at sunset. Be sure to change the focus autofocus to manual and watching the screen focus, on the stars and snap away.
I actually got my first image at an iso of 1600 but you can change the iso, (iso is like the old asa when you used film), easily in the dark when you get the hang of it, (I practiced in the day time). Good luck!


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Pickleball, Sunsets, and A Penumbra Eclipse

We decided to go play pickle ball and went down to find the courts half full. There are special rules here, the main one being that you should play with your own partner and so Renita and I played three games against the same twosome. We got beat all three games, but the players were fairly good, and it was the only time we have played since last August.
Taking a water and rest break, I walked around the area to keep my steps up and promptly rolled my left ankle as I had been on a steep edge and it gave way. I rolled onto the gravel besides the concrete and was lucky to have missed the concrete. Back home we did the ICE treatment, (ice, compress, and elevate), and later decided to go see my doctor.
After x-rays, I found out that it was a moderate strain with no broken bones, but they did discover I had rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs, a bone chip.  That pretty much wrapped up the exercise program. Besides the Ice treatment, the doctor told me to take naproxen sodium, and that evening I broke into a rash.
I stopped taking the pain pills but the next night the rash reappeared and spread all over my body. Concerned about a drug reaction we took off and went to the emergency room, eighteen miles away.
The service was prompt, but the doctor said that we may never find out what caused my allergic reaction. She also prescribed a steroid, and we returned home. Now we are trying to figure out what is causing the hives.
So, the rest of the week was uneventful, besides reading books, we watched sunsets and listened to fireworks. The sunsets are especially pretty as smoke from fires in Utah are causing a reddish color. Renita took some images of the sunsets.
On the fourth of July we stayed home, and, in the evening, we walked down to the east side of the park to watch some fireworks and to try to take some images of the penumbra eclipse of the moon. The fire works were nice but very few and the moon rose, while eclipsed, over the Salt Mountains.
Having hosted numerous star parties, comet watches, and lunar eclipses, and traveled to two solar eclipses, I knew that penumbra eclipses are usual pretty mediocre and this one was its usual disappointment. It was ok as the moon slightly darkened. Turn your flashlight on an object to see its shadow. Your will also notice a lighter area around the shadow and that was what the moon was passing through, (I used the wrong lens and the image is overexposed).
It has now been a week since my accident and the ankle is improving but still needs to be placed in a brace that the doctor gave me. We hope to go fishing, camping, and rock hounding next week, but it will all depend on how my ankle is doing. Clear skies