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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1 night, 3 planets, 2 satellites, the Moon and stars!

Last weekend on the evening of  9th-10th Nov, there were lots of bright and interesting things up in the sky. Fortunately, the night was partially clear and I was ready with my camera to snap some photos.

First up was an Iridium Flare. These bright communication satellites only reflect sunlight for a few seconds at specific points in their low earth orbit (LEO). On Friday night 7:48pm we assembled the volunteers and visitors at our stargazing session together to witness the event.
Faint Iridium Flare - thin white line, centre, amidst the clouds - Friday 9th Nov 2012
This was my first attempt at photographing an Iridium flare. In my haste I didn't quite get the exposure and ISO setting correct, so it didn't turn out so bright but it was partially hidden by clouds also.

Next was Uranus. I've been trying to get a shot of this dim planet for more than a month now but the sky was always too bright and cloudy. Towards the end of last Friday's session, attempted to locate it in a clear patch of sky near the zenith. A bit of a challenge as our right ascension coordinates on our 1980's Pentax telescope controller are no longer working accurately. However, I was able to locate it in the finder with the aid starry night software and Google Sky Map.
Uranus - 9th Nov 2012 - Taken with Nikon D70s DSLR through 16" Cassegrain

Several visitors patiently waited until the the end of the session to catch a glimpse of Jupiter around 10pm.
Afterwards, I swapped the eyepiece for a T-Adapter and took a few shots. It was hard to get a sharp focus due to Jupiter's low altitude at the time (around 20degrees). It was nice to see the four Galilean Moons flanking Jupiter, with two on each side.
Jupiter - 9th Nov 2012 - taken using Nikon D70s DSLR through 6" refractor telescope.

Jupiter with Galilean Moons - from the top: Ganymede, Europa, Jupiter, Io, Callisto - 9th Nov 2012 - taken using Nikon D70s DSLR through 16" Cassegrain telescope.

Jupiter - 9th Nov - taken with Nikon D70s camera using 2x Barlow lens through 16" Cassegrain telescope.

Reaching home around 11:30pm, I set my alarm for 5am to see a bright ISS flyby.
At 5:30am (Sat 10th Nov) I was ready outside with my camera, tripod and the mosquitoes.
It took about 4 mins for the space station to go from SW to NNE, however I kept my exposures to 30 seconds as I was worried the background sky would become too bright if I'd opened to shutter for longer.
ISS travelling between constellations Canis Major (above) & Orion (below), towards Canis Minor (top).

Fully awake with a bunch of bright objects in the sky, I continued to take more photos for the next few hours.
Jupiter (bright object at the bottom) with Orion (centre), Sirius (top left) and Procyon (Canis Minor, top right)

Moon (top) and Venus (below) - 6:20am Sat 10th November - Singapore

Waning Crescent Moon

Finally, sunrise came and as I leave near Changi Airport, I also got a shot of some planes before the sun came up.
Out of focus "Solar Pillar" phenomenon before sunrise 6:40am Sat 10th November

Plane landing at sunrise 6:50am

The Sun - shortly after sunrise - 7:20am Sat 10th Nov

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