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. []