Best Moon in Awhile (maybe ever)

These photos show what I’ve learned in the past two years.  Seeing was average, with intermittent clouds blocking my view.  The November weather was cool, but very forgiving.  I bounced back and forth between Modern Family and the Moon.

This time, I used every trick in the bag.  1200mm, motor drive, RAW and processed in Nikon CapureNX.

First, black and white (camera mode monochrome):


Next, color enhanced:




Rain was forecast for today.

Then the rain hit hard last night and into the early morning.

Then clear skies were predicted.

Then clouds persisted into the mid-afternoon.

I left work and saw the clouds part.  I went to a parking lot where I had a clear view of the setting sun.  Snapped together my aging equipment, threw a blanket over my head and the camera so that I could see the image.  Captured with a Nikon D300, through a 1200mm reflector.  Processed using Darktable and Gimp.


Stunning! Then clouds moved in.


Woke up earlier than expected to see it take place.  Estimates were far off, though.  When I went outside to see whether weather had snuffed my opportunity, this is what I saw:

DSC_1392 Near Totality

My youngest came out–escorted by my wife–blinking to comprehend what I was showing him.

I watched, I wondered, and then I shot a few more photos.

And then clouds moved in:ThenCloudsMovedIn

Effort. . .

Here’s the moon tonight.  Digi-scoped through the 1200mm reflector with my Samsung Galaxy S4.  If I can struggle enough, I’ll be up to capture the eclipse. There’s a narrow (very, very narrow) window tomorrow morning to catch a shadow on the Moon in Kansas.  Houses and trees will block my view and will require me to drive to clear skies.  I will need to be a morning person (which I’m not), and I’ll need to be on the ball.

If I’m lucky, you’ll see it here.

Here’s a result from my systems check tonight:



Glorious Moon!

Great seeing conditions tonight produced one of the better shots I’ve taken of our Moon.  We share her.  We admire her.  And we have, over the past couple of Millennia looked up at her and wondered:  How fortunate we are to have her companionship in the night.

I can count on one hand the number of things I love more than her.  She is a constant.  She is a light.  She is a challenge to capture.





Puzzled by Smartphone Cameras Supremacy within Astrophotography

My D300 cannot produce a photo this sharp when hooked up to my Bausch & Lomb 1200mm reflector.  Through the eyepiece, the moon is crystal clear.  Sharp as a razor.  But I struggle to get the same clarity when the Nikon’s hooked up to the telescope.

One night I tried placing my Samsung Galaxy S4’s camera to the eyepiece to see whether I could get a WYSIWYG photo.  BAM!  Success.  But while it works fine on the Moon, I could not get the Samsung Galaxy to focus or capture the bands of Jupiter (that I could make out with my eye).  So as long as the image is big and bright, the Sammy captures it spectacularly!  The best thing about this setup is that once I stabilize the image in the eyepiece, I can capture exactly what I see with the 13MP camera.  The worst thing about it is I need to carefully center the phone’s camera in the eyepiece and pay careful attention to the optimal distance to the eyepiece.

Nevertheless, it’s the best way I’ve found to produce NASA-quality images of the Moon (if this is, indeed).

Edited in GiMP for levels and color.