Posts tagged with "astrophotography"

fall and falling

Darren and I crashed at the same time. It’s like we’re going through this together. I wish I was back in T.O. with him and Chris, cause some of the best conversations of the year happened in that car. We’re all in the same place, all young men on the mend.

I’m very pleased to say that Darren’s now the owner of a wild cherry sunburst Seagull Entourage Mini Jumbo (but with a pick-guard and cutaway). And I’m totally jealous, as I’ve been drooling over pictures of guitar bindings and rosettes myself lately. I had borrowed Jesse’s ginormous1 guitar for a bit, and I felt like I was pinned under a piece of furniture every time I tried playing it. It totally turned me off guitars in general, but as I was walking through the Ottawa Folklore Centre today, I saw a series of much smaller acoustics. I had to keep walking. The last thing I can afford is another hobby and another toy.


Got this shot through the lens of my telescope, which is why you can see the circular outline of the eyepiece. Big enough to make out the geographical features like the Mare Insularum splotch on the top left. Taken when still bright out, but the moon shone bright through the daylight.

I had a decent night of sleep for the first time in far too long, maybe because I’ve written more in the last week than in the three months before that. Strange how clear and calming and inspiring it is to be rested. I still don’t know what I’m feeling though. It’s like I just don’t know what to think anymore.

A ridiculous amount of Starcraft II has been played. ____ and I have even been playing against each other, which is strange for us because neither person wants to beat the other (out of sportsmanship), but neither wants to lose either (out of foolish pride). I was far more dominant in Warcraft 3 because it’s micro driven so we never did 1v1, but Starcraft is macro driven, which ____ is much better at. He’s proven himself to be a very worthy opponent with several good games on me. I’m so glad Blizzard doesn’t record the number of hours played in a person’s profile now.

I want to be in France in this season. My neighbours just came back from Paris and told me it was really foggy. I wouldn’t mind. Really. I’d love to walk down the stony path of rue Saint Vincent — the setting of one of my favourite Yves Montand songs — when it’s covered by a hazy mist and I’m sporting a cozy sweater.

I spend 21 hours of the day in my room, and I’m never bored. I don’t go out of the house for days at at time. I have neither the reason nor the desire to. I think I handle being alone too well.

  1. This word totally didn’t get picked up by spell-check, which means the Firefox dictionary is pretty decent. []

Photographing stars

Capturing the night sky with a digital camera is a dichotomy of limits and capabilities.

So much more is revealed when you use a camera than with the eye, because a long exposure allows you to collect a lot more light. It’s an entire world we don’t get to see otherwise. The problem becomes the fact that the stars begin to blur as the Earth rotates (although the effect is sometimes nice).

10 minute star trails

This was a 10 minute exposure at 16mm, f/4, ISO 100.

Since most Canon SLRs support a long exposure noise reduction feature (which closes the shutter, takes a second exposure, and digitally removes the remaining noise from the original), exposures with this feature actually take twice as long. I can’t imagine doing this kind of stuff back in the days of film cameras, without any kind of immediate feedback.

The faint glow on the bottom right is light pollution coming from Ottawa.

Looking at pictures of stars without context is boring. I was never interested in plain star maps because they’re so abstract compared to nebulas and galaxy shots. I didn’t understand what I was looking at, and I couldn’t possibly appreciate what I was seeing.

Messier 13

Messier 13 — 6 seconds @ f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 3200.

Rated as a Class V globular cluster, which is right in the middle of the Harlow Shapley scale, and the most spectacular type because it’s the best compromise between richness (lower on the scale) and resolvability (higher on the scale).

Take this photo of M13 for example. M13 is a Messier object, which is a catalog of astronomical objects Charles Messier documented to ignore because they resembled comets1, but didn’t follow traditional comet’s paths.

M13 is in the Herculeus constellation. I couldn’t see it but I knew where it was, so I took this shot and zoomed in. On my screen was one fuzzy dot in the middle of a bunch of sharp dots.

This fuzzy dot is actually a huge globular cluster, containing several hundred thousand stars. When I saw it through someone else’s (much bigger and more expensive) telescope, I could see a diffuse haze of white, and resolve dozens of individual stars around it. It was beautiful, like a series of diamonds set on a glowing jewel, and there’s no way I would appreciate a shot of Hercules if I didn’t see M13 like this.

Due to the large concentration of stars in this globular cluster (and proportionally greater possibility of extra-terrestrial life), it was selected as the place to send the first message into outer space.

It’s all these little details that make space so fascinating. These are celestial objects of such vast and incomprehensible sizes, but at the same time, they’re barely seen by the naked eye on a night with even the best of conditions.

  1. Messier was known as a comet hunter. []