SPACE GARBAGE CO [Version 2.0]

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06/19/2024 <DIR> Moon at 93%> Thornton, CO

Nearing the full Moon and summer solstice! Still some craters showing themselves on the edges, but I'm betting they'll be gone by tomorrow night.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/17/2024 <DIR> Moon at 84%> Thornton, CO

A perfectly crisp evening. The clouds held to the west leaving the skies above Denver nice and clear. In a rare moment, I actually had too many clean shots to choose from. Best problem I've ever had.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/16/2024 <DIR> Sun> Thornton, CO

There's a pretty massive sun spot making its way across the face of the sun presently (3712) which is about 6.5x the size of the Earth.

I played around with different lenses in my telescope to see if I could get a closer higher-resolution image, but there's a real problem with being able to gather enough light in the camera sensor once I switch to my Barlow, 20mm, or 10mm lenses.

Less light means either a longer exposure or a higher ISO, and a longer exposure isn't possible due to the motion of the Sun across the sky and my stationary tripod. I'm limited to around 1/125 sec shutter speed as the slowest possible speed without motion blur, so I really had to max out my ISO to get anything with my 10mm lens.

For now, as far as I know, this is the max image quality I can achieve with my setup.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

06/15/2024 <DIR> Moon at 62%> Thornton, CO

It's been a busy few weeks catching up with summer yardwork and camping and hiking, but I managed to sneak a few shots in last night. Gotta love those warm summer nights.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/17/2024 <DIR> Sun> Thornton, CO

The Sun doesn't vary much from day to day aside from a few roaming sun spots, so I'm having a little fun playing with exposures to see if I can get something creative out of it. I tried a few overexposed shots this time around and created a composite to capture the brightness surrounding the sun along with a few details on the sun itself.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

05/16/2024 <DIR> Moon at 59%> Thornton, CO

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the great thing about Moon and Sun photos is that with a basic setup they use the exact same focus. Just a quick second to pop off the solar filter and the Moon is ready.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/03/2024 <DIR> Sun> Thornton, CO

Lots of really cool big sun spots across the face of the sun right now. The big one (lovingly named Region 3663) is something near 1,500 million square kilometers. To help comprehend the size of it, you could fit about 140 quadrillion coffee mugs in it. Yowza!

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

04/21/2024 <DIR> Moon at 96%> Thornton, CO

It's getting warmer out, and photographing at night is becoming a lot less of a pain in the butt. Last night was a little hazy in the upper atmosphere but the bright Moon cut right through.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

04/16/2024 <DIR> Moon at 63%> Thornton, CO

Another night, another Moon.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

04/14/2024 <DIR> Moon at 27%> Thornton, CO

Can't forget about the Moon! I can't forget about the Eclipse either, but now that it's over it's back to capturing the more mundane events in the universe. You know, like a giant rock ball tidally locked with the Earth as we blast through the universe together.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

04/08/2024 <DIR> Solar Eclipse> Thornton, CO

Never have I planned for a photography event like I did for the Eclipse, and it was totally worth it. Using NASA's website for Eclipse timing in Denver, I had each shot planned to the minute so that I could capture matching coverage as it waxed and waned to the maximum coverage. The resulting shots turned out even better than I had planned.

My favorite shot is #3, which was 20 minutes away from the maximum, and the Moon is just about to eclipse over a Sun Spot which is about 1.5x the size of the Earth. The epic scale of the image is mind boggling.

A week away from the Solar Eclipse Denver was forecast for 95% cloud coverage and I didn't have high hopes for the day other than watching the NASA live stream. I checked the weather again the day before and the coverage had changed to around 33%, so I thought maybe I could get a few cloudy shots and be happy with it. But the day of the Eclipse, as I set my telescope and camera up, there wasn't a cloud in sight. Through sheer luck we had about 95% clear skies throughout the day. It was wonderful.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

03/23/2024 <DIR> Sun, Moon at 97%> Thornton, CO

Today's goal was to learn a little bit about Sun Spots. After a some digging I found the Spaceweatherlive website that shows a ton of live info about the Sun, even numbering the individual Sun Spot regions along with their Class, Magnitude, and sizes.

After comparing with my shots I was able to scale the Earth into the image to compare the actual size of these. It's a bit horrifying.

I also felt like I was neglecting the Moon, so I had to take a few shots (and reset my focus for the Sun, naturally).

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

03/22/2024 <DIR> Sun> Thornton, CO

It's fascinating seeing Sun Spots rotate as the days go by. I've gotten so familiar with the Moon being tidally locked that I hadn't thought about the Sun's rotation before. It's kind of shocking to see so much movement in a short period of time.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

03/20/2024 <DIR> Sun> Thornton, CO

Focusing on the Sun midday is hard! I've been reading some forums online and it really seems like there are a couple of decent tricks, at least with my amateur setup. One being to focus the night before on the Moon since they are the same apparent size in the sky, the other being focusing on the Sun Spots, assuming some are prominent enough.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

03/19/2024 <DIR> Sun> Thornton, CO

To prep for the Solar Eclipse next month I picked up a Solar Filter for my telescope. This was taken using the EclipSmart Solar Filter designed for my Astromaster 70az, and it was only $25!

I didn't get the chance to spend a lot of time with it yet, but already you can pick out a few sun spots on the Sun's surface, it was really fun to watch through the viewfinder. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly?) the same astrophotography rules seem to apply to the sun with similar ISO and shutter speeds.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, EclipSmart Solar Filter, Nikon D5200

 

03/18/2024 <DIR> Moon at 69%> Thornton, CO

It's been a cloudy few weeks and the Moon has been up at odd times, making for some rare chances to get a good shot. Caught a lucky break last night with clear skies finally.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/24/2024 <DIR> Moon at 99%> Thornton, CO

This is the smallest percent change I've captured between photos (from 100% to 99%!).

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/23/2024 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Thornton, CO

A perfectly clear night for the full Moon. I love the full Moon because you can sometimes capture how bright it actually is to the naked eye, almost blinding!

The first image is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/125th of a second (ISO-125) to capture the details and one at 1 second (ISO-200) to capture the super bright aura around the Moon.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/22/2024 <DIR> Moon at 98%> Thornton, CO

Nearly a full Moon now with only a few shadows visible on the lower right side. I actually prefer visible craters like this because it makes it easy to focus my telescope. When the Moon is at 100%, it's quite difficult to find a good focal point because there are hardly any contrasted areas to focus on.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/21/2024 <DIR> Moon at 95%> Thornton, CO

It was a nice clear night last night, some great shots from the back yard.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/19/2024 <DIR> Moon at 82%> Thornton, CO

Experimented with exposure times and ISO last night, but really just ended up reinforcing my current setup and process. I suppose that's a good thing.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/18/2024 <DIR> Moon at 71%> Thornton, CO

I'm noticing that the angle of the Moon is (obviously) dependant on when and where I take the photo. It's kind of cool because every shot becomes unique even if only a day apart (see yesterday for comparison).

Maybe I can do something interesting with that.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/17/2024 <DIR> Moon at 65%> Thornton, CO

Got a few good shots in last night. It seemed clear from the ground but there was definitely some atmospheric distortion somewhere above, everything came out just slightly off. Nothing fancy.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/15/2024 <DIR> Moon at 43%> Thornton, CO

Mostly clear skies meant for a few crisp images. There was a nice deep blue hue to the sky tonight but I just couldn't figure out how to expose for it. Ah well, still cool.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/13/2024 <DIR> Moon at 22%> Thornton, CO

Caught the slightest glimpse of earthshine last night. It was a tricky exposure to balance details without blowing out the entire illuminated part of the Moon.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/11/2024 <DIR> Moon at 7%> Thornton, CO

It's been cloudy so far in February, but the Moon finally made an appearance last night. It was only a sliver and I was planning on skipping it because it's pretty difficult to get a decent picture with so little light reflecting from the Moon. But then I saw the earthshine and had to give it a shot.

This is the Moon at 7% illumination, it's the smallest slice I've ever captured and was even able to get the earthshine in a second exposure.

This is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/125th of a second (ISO-10159) to capture the details and one at 1/2 second (ISO-6400) to capture the earthshine.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/30/2024 <DIR> Moon at 79%> Thornton, CO

Early walks with the dogs means I'm up far before the sun rises, which sometimes has the pleasant payoff of seeing the Moon high in the sky well before it sets.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/27/2024 <DIR> Moon at 94%> Thornton, CO

Possibly my favorite phase of the Moon. In the upper right corner there are a few prominent seas and craters that really shine in the shadows here: Mare Crisium, Langrenus, Vendelinus, and Petavius.

One day I'm hoping to get a better setup so that I can capture these individually in higher resolution.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/26/2024 <DIR> Moon at 98%> Thornton, CO

I was planning on skipping last night because it had been cloudy all day. But when I let the dogs out to go to the bathroom before bed there was a nice massive gap in the clouds and the Moon was square in the middle. Couldn't pass it up.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/24/2024 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Thornton, CO

The full Moon on a crystal clear night. Doesn't get much better than this. Except, of course, when you don't have to chase your dog around the yard in between photos while he tries to eat the poop he found.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/23/2024 <DIR> Moon at 97%> Thornton, CO

I had the scope set up last night waiting for the clouds to pass and realized it just wasn't going to happen. The Moon was extra bright, and the clouds were pretty thin, so I gave it a shot anyways. Strangely enough, I got some of my sharpest pictures through the clouds.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/22/2024 <DIR> Moon at 90%> Thornton, CO

Another cloudy evening where the sky cleared just long enough to get a few good shots in. Some of them turned out surprisingly sharp despite the random weather conditions.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/21/2024 <DIR> Moon at 87%> Thornton, CO

A quick shot on a mostly clear night. Fortunately, I only had to wait for a few small clouds to pass.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/19/2024 <DIR> Moon at 70%> Thornton, CO

A cold crisp day for a cold crisp image. Just kidding, it was a little hazy from moisture in the atmosphere I think.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/17/2024 <DIR> Moon at 50%> Thornton, CO

It's been a few months. I ran into some camera issues - Apparently some debris got into the camera sensor (and/or mirror and housing) and was causing crazy squiggles and dots to show up in my images. I tried my best to clean it myself but just couldn't figure it out, so finally I brought it in for repair.

Special thanks to Mike's Camera Shop for getting me up and running again.

Last night it was warm enough outside to give it a test run and everything looked nice and clean. Happy to be back at it!

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

09/05/2023 <DIR> Moon at 64%> Thornton, CO

I was up and about early this morning and the Moon was almost directly overhead. Another blue sky morning.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

09/04/2023 <DIR> Moon at 74%> Thornton, CO

An early morning, a setting Moon, and a crisp blue sky.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/30/2023 <DIR> Moon at 100% Blue Supermoon> Thornton, CO

The August 2023 Blue Supermoon! A trifeca of the full Moon, a super Moon, and a blue Moon.

What does it mean? Basically the Moon is full at the same time it passes through the point closest to Earth (perigee) which makes the full Moon a super Moon. It's also the second full Moon of August, which makes it a blue Moon. There you have it, a Blue Supermoon.

The first image is a composite of two images, one exposure to capture the details of the Moon at 1/125 sec and one exposure to capture the bright glow of the super Moon at 2 sec. A similar technique was used for the third image.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/29/2023 <DIR> Moon at 98%> Thornton, CO

The skies were perfectly clear and I wanted to experiment with exposures to try and capture the glow that was around the Moon. I'm almost positive there was a Moon Halo (a circular rainbow effect around the Moon) but I wasn't able to fully capture it on camera.

The first image is a composite of two images using the exclusion filter to showcase the lunar corona effect (correct me if I'm wrong), when the Moon appears to have a corona due to atmospheric conditions and the high exposure of the camera.

The third image was an attempt to capture the Halo, which didn't quite work out but still looked cool.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/27/2023 <DIR> Moon at 87%> Thornton, CO

Intermittent clouds made for some interesting shots. It's kind of fun to watch the Moon change behind the different cloud coverage.

My setup is about as amateur as it gets - a small scope and an old DSLR using a 5 shot burst (at one second intervals) - meaning I have little control over when the shutter actually releases. Any interesting images are basically the result of pure luck.

It makes the outcomes exciting though because I never know what will turn out until I get to editing.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/26/2023 <DIR> Moon at 72%> Thornton, CO

Caught a short break in the clouds the other night which made for clear shooting conditions. Nothing fancy, just a quick 15 shots to choose from.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/22/2023 <DIR> Moon at 37%> Thornton, CO

Had fun trying to capture the Moon the other night. The sky was just cloudy enough to give off a really cool glow around the Moon, but not too cloudy to obscure the details.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/21/2023 <DIR> Moon at 27%> Thornton, CO

Between the new Moon and the rise and set times being super late the last week I didn't have much of a chance to capture anything cool. But now it's up and shining bright in the evenings again. I was hoping to catch a smaller sliver but I'm not complaining.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/11/2023 <DIR> Moon at 20%> Thornton, CO

Getting down to the last sliver of the Waning August Moon. Hoping for clear skies this weekend in case I can try and catch the last few percent before it's a complete new Moon.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/10/2023 <DIR> Moon at 25%> Thornton, CO

It was a cloudy morning but I caught a lucky break that lasted a couple of minutes right before work. Most shots were super obscured, but a couple of them came out quite nice.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/09/2023 <DIR> Moon at 36%> Thornton, CO

The Moon is getting a little more faint each morning, making it a little bit harder every day to get a clear shot. But I'm loving these blue skies.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/08/2023 <DIR> Moon at 47%> Thornton, CO

Another clear morning, another blue sky Moon. The Moon during the morning is directly overhead now, and I think this is the first time I've had to shoot at this angle. Honestly, I didn't even know my tripod could do that.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

08/07/2023 <DIR> Moon at 59%> Thornton, CO

Good morning, Moon. It's been cloudy for the last week or so and I haven't seen the Moon the entire time, except for one night when I woke up and it was super bright at around 2:00am, but sleep was the better choice.

This morning was nice and clear with the Moon high in the sky.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/28/2023 <DIR> Moon at 76%> Thornton, CO

A quick shot of last night's Moon and a nice clear sky.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/27/2023 <DIR> Moon at 66%> Thornton, CO

A cloudy day that cleared up right before bedtime, conditions were surprisingly crisp tonight. One shot out of the bunch brought out some extra crater detail at the top of the image that weren't in the rest. I'll chalk it up to changing atmospheric conditions and luck.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/26/2023 <DIR> Moon at 56%> Thornton, CO

Same Moon, same day, different times (about two hours apart).

I was going to just take a quick shot earlier in the day because I wasn't sure which way the Moon was setting, but it was just too good to pass up a second shot before bed.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/24/2023 <DIR> Moon at 42%> Thornton, CO

A hazy warm evening here in Denver resulted in some oddly glowing but crisp images. I thought for sure the haze would overpower the crater details, but somehow it worked out. The difference in color is solely from the different shutter speeds.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/09/2023 <DIR> Moon at 56%> Snowmass Wilderness, CO

The Moon, from Aspen, through Aspens.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

07/09/2023 <DIR> Moon at 56%> Snowmass Wilderness, CO

Another early morning shot from our campsite at Difficult Campground.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/08/2023 <DIR> Moon at 66%> Maroon Bells, Snowmass Wilderness, CO

After leaving camp we took a shuttle to the Maroon Bells drop-off area. When we unboarded, I noticed the Moon was still fairly high up in the sky but was setting fast right towards the Maroon Bells. We had a short mile and a half hike ahead of us to reach Crater Lake, at the foot of the mountains, and I was really hoping we'd get lucky and catch the Moon setting into the mountains.

And lucky we were! While hiking through the woods to the lake, we kept track of the distance of the Moon while it was setting, hoping it would still be visible by the time we got there and the lake cleared the view. The last quarter mile we noticed the moon was about to set, so I ran it all the way to the lake a pulled out my camera.

I managed a few dozen photos while the Moon skimmed the ridge of the mountain and, miraculously, settled right into a perfectly angled pass. It was an extremely lucky day, and these are some of my favorite photos now.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

07/08/2023 <DIR> Moon at 66%> Snowmass Wilderness, CO

My wife and I went camping near Aspen, CO and she suggested I grab my telescope since we would have a relaxing weekend (rather than hiking 10+ miles per day). This shot was from early morning at our campsite at Difficult Campground.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/29/2023 <DIR> Moon at 85%> Thornton, CO

Stormy day yesterday meant for lots of cloud cover, but a few small gaps began to appear around 9:00 PM. I grabbed my scope quick and managed to get six shots of the Moon before it disappeared, and luckily one of those was cloudless. The clouds actually made for some really cool dark patterns over the Moon, which I combined into a single image so that the changes in cloud cover stick out. Turned into a lucky photoshoot for only being outside for about five minutes.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/28/2023 <DIR> Moon at 77%> Thornton, CO

The Northern half of the skies over Denver last night was dark and stormy, but I was lucky and the 1/3rd of the sky the Moon happened to be in yestereday evening was clear. We have some storms rolling in over the next few days so I might not be so lucky the rest of the week into the weekend, but this was a solid streak. It's pretty rare I can get five days of Moon shots in a row.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/27/2023 <DIR> Moon at 67%> Thornton, CO

Evening photography is actually kind of fun (and convenient). The daylight side of the Moon brings out a lot of colors I otherwise wouldn't have noticed. Plus the whole dodging mosquitoes thing is pretty nice.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/26/2023 <DIR> Moon at 57%> Thornton, CO

An evening shot of today's Moon so that I could get in before the mosquitoes came out. Nothing fancy, just a nice blue sky and a reddish purple moon from the setting sun.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/25/2023 <DIR> Moon at 48%> Thornton, CO

Another great night of deep blue sky astrophotography, only the mosquitoes were relentless last night so I only got a few shots in.

The terminator photo is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/125th of a second (ISO-160) to capture the details and one at 1/2 second (ISO-400) to capture the earthshine.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/24/2023 <DIR> Moon at 39%> Thornton, CO

After weeks of rain and cloudy nights the sky finally cleared and the Moon was bright in the deep blue evening sky. I tried a new technique to capture the earthshine and focus mostly on the terminator line to really accent it this time.

The terminator photo is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/125th of a second (ISO-200) to capture the details and one at 1 second (ISO-400) to capture the earthshine.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/30/2023 <DIR> Moon at 81%> Thornton, CO

Another quick back yard sessions before the mosquitos got me.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/29/2023 <DIR> Moon at 73%> Thornton, CO

Back home in my back yard. Apparently it's mosquito season, which gave me a good five minutes of photos before heading back inside.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/28/2023 <DIR> Moon at 58%> Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

We had a lucky couple of hours of blue skies on the last day of camping and the Moon was climbing its way right up a massive pine tree. I took a few well positioned shots to get it emerging from in between the top two branches of a tree as it rose into the bright blue sky.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/26/2023 <DIR> Moon at 39%> Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

My wife and I spent the weekend camping with friends in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was cloudy and rainy most of the time but we got a few short hours of blue sky each day and I managed to capture a few shots in between hiking.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/23/2023 <DIR> Moon at 19%> Thornton, CO

I hadn't seen the Moon for a couple of weeks because it's been cloudy and rainy here this spring, but last night as I was doing the dishes my wife told me the Moon was finally out and looked really cool. We've also been smothered in smoke from wild fires in Canada, so it was giving off this soft orange haze from the atmosphere.

The sliver is always hard to capture because there's hardly any light to collect, so it's a battle of ISO and shutter speed to try and get the details of the Moon and the soft glow of the atmosphere it was giving off, but I think I got pretty close to what I was seeing with my eyes.

The first picture is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/60 sec (ISO-800) to capture the details of the Moon, and one at 1 sec (ISO-1000) to capture the overexposed aura for effect.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/05/2023 <DIR> Moon at 99%> Thornton, CO

The Moon is rising later in the evening now so I was only planning on taking a couple of shots and calling it a night. But as I was putting my telescope away I noticed just how bright the aura was around the Moon in the clear night sky and thought what the heck, I'll run out a take a few handheld shots to see if it shows up on camera well.

What a pleasant surprise to see the bright aura fade into the deep blue of the evening sky while looking at the images this morning.

The first picture is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/100 sec (ISO-100) with the camera attached to the telescope to capture the details of the Moon, and one at 1/50 sec (ISO-3200) handheld (200mm lens) to capture the overexposed aura for effect. I doubt I did this in the best way possible but I think it worked pretty well.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/04/2023 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Thornton, CO

The full Moon with a low hazy cloud layer turned out to be a fun little challenge. Shortly after grabbing these shots the clouds got a bit too thick to get anything reliable.

The first picture is a composite of two exposures, one at 1/2 sec to really capture the glow and the clouds, and 1/10 sec to capture a slightly overexposed Moon for effect.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

05/03/2023 <DIR> Moon at 96%> Thornton, CO

Spring has arrived in Colorado, and with it the evenings have finally become pleasantly warm again and I can get back to some astrophotography. I snapped a few quick shots while letting the dog out last night and they all looked almost exactly the same, so here's the best one.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

12/08/2022 <DIR> Moon at 99%> Thornton, CO

A somewhat rare warm and clear night for December in Colorado. Just a quick moon shot, nothing special.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

12/07/2022 <DIR> Moon and Mars Occultation> Thornton, CO

Final shots from the Moon and Mars Occultation. I took a bit of artistic license with this one and combined two separate images; one shot of the Moon and Mars with proper exposure, and one shot of the Moon overexposed so that the full Moon aura is visible. The bright whites and purple hues were the natural results of the overexposed image and nothing in color was changed in editing.

This was a fun night of experiments and I'm glad some of these worked out!

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

12/07/2022 <DIR> Moon and Mars Occultation> Thornton, CO

More from the Moon and Mars Occultation. This series of images shows the full Moon with Mars emerging from the right side as a tiny orange speck!

More edits on the way.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

12/07/2022 <DIR> Moon and Mars Occultation> Thornton, CO

I had read about the Occultation of the Moon and Mars last week and it had almost entirely slipped my mind. You can imagine my surprise when I was trying to capture pictures of the full Moon and suddenly saw a tiny orange dot appear on the horizon of the Moon. It was freaking MARS!

I snapped a few shots using my raw telescope and then ran into the house to grab my 2x Barlow lens to try and get a couple of closer images before the separation became too great.

What an awesome night!

This first image is Mars "rising" (after a 90 degree image rotation) followed by the image captured with the Barlow lens at the Moon's natural angle from my place on Earth.

More edits on the way.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/10/2022 <DIR> Moon at 99%> Thornton, CO

This morning while making coffee I looked out the kitchen window and happened to see the near full moon setting right out of our front yard.

It looked so cool I couldn't just let it set without trying to catch a few photos.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

10/09/2022 <DIR> Jupiter and Four Moons> Thornton, CO

Behold! The grainy lump that is Jupiter and four of its moons: Ganymede, Europa, Io, and Callisto.

I was taking photos of the full moon and thought I'd take a shot at Jupiter since it was nearby. As something I've never photographed before with my peasant setup, I'm surprised I even got anything useable. In fact, if you look really close and squint your eyes, you can even see some of the stripes on Jupiter.

Jupiter is near its closest opposition since 1963, meaning it's at its biggest and brightest. It's not the greatest photo I've ever taken but I'm stoked I finally got to capture this planet, even if it is a grainy lump to me.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/09/2022 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Thornton, CO

I took a short break to get settled into our new house, but finally got the chance to break the telescope out last night. The full moon was super bright and the sky was perfectly clear, couldn't have asked for a better night back.

I also got my first pictures of something special that I'll share later this week!

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

07/29/2022 <DIR> The Milky Way Galaxy> Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

My wife found an astrophotography group that was night hiking up to Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park on the same weekend we were camping, and they were kind enough to let us tag along.

It was pretty awesome being in the mountains in the dead of night taking photos of the stars.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

02/15/2022 <DIR> Moon at 99%> Ken Caryl, CO

A near full moon and lots of fast moving clouds made for a super interesting and challenging subject this night. Overall it only took just under one hundred photos to get a few solid shots, and I'm really happy with how they turned out. Clouds are always such a challenge, but dang is it worth it.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/13/2022 <DIR> Moon at 92%> Ken Caryl, CO

Nothing too unique about this night. The moon was set against a deep blue sky and I did my best to capture the colors as they faded from deep blue to black.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

12/18/2021 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Ken Caryl, CO

This night I finally was able to capture a faint starfield with a full moon in the same image. The starfield was captured during a longer brighter exposure of the moon to fully expose the aura around it, while I used a second shorter capture to get the moon details immediatly after. Both images were combined to get the full range of the night sky.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

11/24/2021 <DIR> Moon at 72%> Ken Caryl, CO

Tonight I was taking photos in one of my normal spots at the edge of a dark parking lot in town when the parking lot security guard rolled up in his Prius. Thinking I was maybe snooping on the business with my telescope he advised me that I wasn't allowed to use any type of photography on the business property and that I needed to pack up and find somewhere else.

I let him know I was taking pictures of the moon and asked if he wanted to check out my current shot that I had lined up in my scope before I packed up, he cautiously stepped out of his car and took a look at the view finder, and I saw quick smile when he saw the moon. We chatted for a bit about space and stargazing as kids and he was nice enough to let me finish up my pictures for the night without kicking me out. I thanked him and let him know I'd find a new location to shoot from.

He was cool. Be like that guy.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

11/19/2021 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Ken Caryl, CO

There were a couple of points tonight where the moon had an amazing bright aura that I tried my best to capture. It's always tricky creating a composite image, and I can't always nail it, but sometimes I get some fairly cool results.

Tonight the moon bounced behind cloud cover, clear skies with bright auras, and just plain old clear sky with nothing around it. I'm still amazed at how much the moon can change in the span of an hour.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

11/16/2021 <DIR> Moon at 95%> Ken Caryl, CO

Tonight there was a gorgeous moonrise right as the sun was setting, creating the most spectacular evening view. There's a huge challenge in capturing the details of the moon in daylight hours, while also trying to keep the colors of the sunset true to what the eye naturally sees, but I'm slowly getting better at it.

The hardest part of the sunset photo was combining multiple images to reproduce what the scene truly looked like. And then of course, giving it an hour or so to be higher in the night sky to get more detailed night shots.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

11/13/2021 <DIR> Moon at 75%> Ken Caryl, CO

Different lenses and techniques make for some pretty big variations in overall look and feel. It's pretty cool learning about photography and the moon is such a wild subject to try and capture. Some days you get it, and some days you don't. I can't wait to keep building this moon portfolio. It feels like I'm slowly unlocking the secrets of the moon for myself.

From left to right, first smallest then largest:
Astromaster 70az and Nikon D5200; With Barlow lens; With Barlow lens and alternate editing.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/20/2019 <DIR> Super Blood Wolf Moon> San Diego, CA

I'm digging up old RAW photos I didn't previously know how to edit and never posted and ran into this gem the other night. The 2019 Super Blood Wolf Moon. Is there a cooler name to an astrological event?!

I wish I remembered more about taking this photo. I'm positive we were at our apartment in San Diego, CA, and I took these from the balcony, and my wife and I spent the morning eating brunch at Kindred, the greatest restaurant in the world. I suppose that makes for a good day.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

10/24/2021 <DIR> Moon at 81%> Ken Caryl, CO

The cool thing about astrophotography is that when you learn something new in editing, you can bring that technique to older photos.

I found a set of images from October that I gave up on at the time as totally unusable and decided to see if I could re-work any of them. Sure enough, this may be one of my favorite images yet. A few months ago I just couldn't get the clouds to come through true to the eye without blowing out the moon, and now I can. I'll be going through some older photos to see if I passed anything else up that maybe I can bring back to life.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

2021 vs 2020 <DIR>

Same gear, one year apart.

After taking photos in October 2021 I realized that the moon was in nearly the exact same phase and conditions as my first astrophoto a year ago, in October of 2020. In this hobby, at least for me, improvements are slow and incremental. I might discover one small tweak over the course of a few weeks that I hadn't known how to do before. After a year of these tiny improvements, I found that they added up to a noticeable difference.

I'm really proud of how far I've come over the last year, sticking with the same equipment. Instead of being hard on myself for my amateur photos, I decided to be patient and learn a little bit at a time. Instead of stressing out about posting something imperfect, I gave myself permission to be satisfied with a solid effort.

All things considered, it's been a good year. If you're ever struggling with a passion you have, be patient with yourself, make small improvements over time, and give yourself permission to be satisfied with imperfection.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/22/2021 <DIR> Moon at 94%> Ken Caryl, CO

I'm getting better at shooting through the 2x Barlow lens and finding ways to bring out details in editing that I just can't get directly through the scope, which is really cool to see in the end results. The first image is using the 2x Barlow, the second image is through the scope directly, and the third image is using only a 200mm lens on my camera.

This phase happened to line up almost exactly with a picture I took in October 2020 with the exact same gear, and I'll be doing a comparison on these next week! I'm super excited at the difference a year can make even with the same equipment.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

Best of 2021 Astrophotography <DIR>

My favorite pictures of the moon from my first year of astrophotography. It's just astounding how much character the moon has from day to day. The range of colors, auras, craters depending on moon phase, and earthshine is awesome in its variety and power to stoke the imagination. There's so much beauty to be found by just looking up and paying attention to the world(s) around us.

I have some content in line for 2022 that I'm already excited about and I'm looking forward to another year of improving this craft. I can't wait to see what else is out there.

Thank you to everyone who has taken interest in my photography. I'm happy that you're on this adventure with me.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/21/2021 <DIR> Moon at 98%> Ken Caryl, CO

Working on new techniques to capture more detail in photos and editing. I thought I could get my best quality images going directly from my camera through the telescope, but lately I'm finding I can get slightly better detail using my 2x Barlow lens and stitching two frames together. I've noticed a few permanent dots that show up when using the Barlow lens and I can't figure out where they're coming from, but thankfully I have Photoshop to edit those out.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/20/2021 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Ken Caryl, CO

My wife and I were getting home late from her hockey game and we were walking from the car to our apartment when I decided to take a peek at the moon while in the parking lot. It was a perfectly bright gem in the sky and had this incredible aura around it so I thought I'd snap a couple pictures since I had my camera handy (I took 18 pictures). I didn't think I'd get anything super cool since it was handheld and I didn't even have my telescope handy, but it turned out to be one of the coolest pictures I've ever taken.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

10/16/2021 <DIR> Moon at 87%> Ken Caryl, CO

Nothing too special about this night. It was very windy so it was a challenge getting a single steady shot. I probably should have just stayed indoors as I only managed to take a few photos over about a half an hour before calling it quits. But got one that I think turned out well, so it wasn't a total bust.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/09/2021 <DIR> Moon at 17%> Ken Caryl, CO

Earthshine! My wife called me while she was on the road to tell me to go look at the moon, and that you could see the whole thing, even the shadowed side. I grabbed my gear and got outside with about 20 minutes to spare before the moon set behind the foothills.

Earthshine is a dull glow that lights up the unlit part of the moon. It's caused by the Sun's light reflecting off of the Earth's surface and back onto the moon. I don't know how common it is, but I know I don't see it very often. This is the first time I've ever been able to capture it on camera.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

09/25/2021 <DIR> Moon at 75%> Ken Caryl, CO

While trying to take some video on this night, I noticed that when I was centering the moon from out of frame there was an intense glare that would shoot across the camera at the right angle.

I spent some time getting my normal moon shots in and then tried to hone in on that glare. It ended up looking like a crazy volcanic event on the moon!

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

09/06/2021 <DIR> The Milky Way Galaxy> Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

My wife and I spent a week camping in the mountains and on night one we had a new moon and almost clear skies. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try and get some photos of the Milky Way.

This panorama was taken with my Nikon D5200 and a tripod. It's made up of three photos using an 18mm lens that were stitched together. I was having trouble balancing the true colors between the three so I took a little creative liberty on recreating them. I'd wager they're about 65% accurate.

The full resolution image clocks in at 12,000 x 3,000 pixels!

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

08/16/2021 <DIR> Moon at 67%> Ken Caryl, CO

I tried a few different camera and lens techniques on this night. All images were capture with my Nikon and my Celestron but while using different lenses to get varying amounts of detail. The first two were straight through my camera and telescope with no additonal lenses, and the third image was using a 2x Barlow lens to combine two images into one larger image. Overall I think the Barlow lens had the best results, the details are a bit finer and slightly less noisy. Something I can continue to work on.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

06/13/2021 <DIR> Moon at 12%> Ken Caryl, CO

The sky on this evening had some very deep blues set against a bright sliver of moon. Capturing the moon at such a low percentage is a challenge because it reflects little light compared to a full moon, which makes getting a crisp image a challenge.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

03/29/2021 <DIR> Moon at 97%> Ken Caryl, CO

This was a second set of photos I had forgotten I'd taken along with the shots on the 28th. Tonight had a gorgeous moonrise right through some low hanging clouds, and I snapped a few shots and then put my camera away. I came back to these a few months later for editing and was pretty happy with how they ended up.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

03/28/2021 <DIR> Moon at 95%> Ken Caryl, CO



Tonight was mostly cloudy and there were just brief glimpses of the moon though there was never a totally clear shot. I was just messing around with my camera snapping a few shots not expecting to get anything cool from it, and then promptly forgot I took said pictures. I took a look at what I could potentially edit a couple of weeks later and actually really like how a few of these ended up.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

03/20/2021 <DIR> Moon at 44%> Ken Caryl, CO



This day had beautiful blue skies and fast moving puffy clouds. The scene set by the clouds and moon were too good to pass up, so I gave it a shot. The moon wasn't super bright or bold since it was mid-day, but I managed to get a few pics worthy of a post. I would love to one day capture solid daytime pictures, but I believe I'll need an equipment upgrade for that. Until then!

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

02/27/2021 <DIR> Moon at 99%> Ken Caryl, CO



The moon on this night was full and bright, and completely obscured by fast moving clouds. I thought it'd be fun to still give it a shot and find breaks in the clouds to shoot through, and ended up with a fairly cool cloudy aura pic. Prior to editing the image was kind of a disaster but with enough ridiculous tweaks it came out pretty ominous.

I took some video as well (@space.garbage.co) trying to see if I could grab any detail up close but the contrast was out of control between the moon and clouds. You can see just how fast it's all moving in the vid.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

01/27/2021 <DIR> Moon at 100%> Ken Caryl, CO

We recently made the move from San Diego, CA to the Denver, CO area. The skies here are a bit more clear due to the higher elevation and less pollution during the winter.

The moon on this night was a gorgeous orange yellow shade contrasted against a deep blue sky, and had this eerie glow about it. I'm happy I was able to mostly capture these colors in the photo, that's usually pretty hard to do for me. To help with color balancing I started taking wide angle reference photos and then matched true color in editing.

The original video (@space.garbage.co) had a very sharp black and white contrast, and I reworked the colors in After Effects to match the photo. Pretty stoked on how it turned out.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

11/02/2020 <DIR> Moon at 95%> San Diego, CA

Tried for another horizon photo, nothing much new in this one. It's pretty cool though how much the shadows change just a few days after a full moon.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/31/2020 <DIR> Moon at 100%> San Diego, CA

Full Blue Moon on Halloween.

It's surprising how fast the moon actually moves, and you don't really notice it until it's on the horizon. It was just a matter of minutes between the first hint of light and it being free in the sky. Probably witchcraft.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/27/2020 <DIR> Moon at 88%> San Diego, CA



Tried for some daytime photo and video. I thought it would be cool to add a little video to point out some of the more prominent and interesting areas of the surface. The sky was a super interesting color this night and I did my best to capture that between the photo and video.

Some of the areas shown in the video (@space.garbage.co) are Tycho Crater, Gassendi Crater, Mare Crisium, and Sinus Iridum.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/26/2020 <DIR> Moon at 78%> San Diego, CA

It was a bit hazy in the sky on this night so I went for a slightly wider angle to get more available light and a sharper image. I ended up catching three prominent stars next to the moon in this shot and did a little research to find that they were three of the brightest stars in the Aquarius constellation:

ψ1 Aquarii, a multiple star (triple) system 150 light years away with an exoplanet orbiting the giant primary;
ψ2 Aquarii, a solitary star 400 light years away;
ψ3 Aquarii, a binary star system 262 light years away.

This is a single image with a bit of touch up in photoshop to make it look closer to what we can see with the naked eye.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/12/2020 <DIR> Moon at 23%> San Diego, CA

I spent some time on this one trying to shoot with a lower ISO (this was at 5080, the previous was at 12800) to reduce the grain in the image, but that brings on all sorts of little quirks to deal with. It's surprising how much the amount of reflected light can make the moon a challenge to shoot, but I'm happy with the result.

This was also my first attempt to stitch together a series of photos (nine) to try to get more detail. Overall the stitching worked pretty well, but I think I'm hitting resolution limits for my telescope.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

10/03/2020 <DIR> Moon at 95%> San Diego, CA

As a way to stay sane during the pandemic, we started picking up a few hobbies while the world was shut down. I've always been interested in space and astrophotography and as an awesome surprise, my wife picked me up a telescope!

For now I'll be practicing astrophotography with my new beginner telescope, the Celestron Astromaster 70az. I was able to connect my Nikon directly to the scope using some adapters and have been having a blast with it ever since.

Equipment: Celestron Astromaster 70az, Nikon D5200

 

09/24/2020 <DIR> Stars, Jupiter, and Saturn> Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Trying to escape from the pandemic, my wife and I decided to take a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and then Bryce Canyon National Park and spend some time outdoors. We'd been cooped up in our tiny apartment in San Diego, CA since the pandemic lockdowns began and we needed a break. And what a break it was!

Bryce Canyon is magical during the day, and equally so at night. It was unlike anything we'd ever seen and hiking through the canyons at night was both spooky and surreal. We took a hike about halfway down into Wall Street, which was as far as we dared, and spent a good thirty minutes in the quiet darkness taking some photos in the process.

The two brightest objects in the sky that night, other than the moon, were Jupiter and Saturn and I was fortunate to catch them rising just above the canyon walls. If you look closely, you can see them in each picture.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

10/25/2019 <DIR> Milky Way and Stars> Sawtooth Canyon, CA

For our one year anniversary my wife and I took a trip to go rock climbing with some friends at Sawtooth Canyon, CA. The area is gorgeous and fortunately I brought my camera to grab some shots while we were there.

1) Milky Way over Sawtooth Canyon
2) Stars over our campsite
3) My wife being a badass

If you look closely, in the first picture you can see the Milky Way as well as an airplane flying in the lower right corner.

Equipment: Nikon D5200

 

08/21/2017 <DIR> Partial Solar Eclipse> Irvine, CA

Back in 2017 while living in California, a partial eclipse was on its way to cover Orange County. Fortunately I planned ahead this time and ordered eclipse glasses so that I wouldn't have to cobble together welding goggles and shades lenses to get a decent view.

I was at work that day and brought my gear with me. I took lunch at the expected eclipse time and posted up at the top of the parking garage with my trusty Nikon D5200, a tripod, and eclipse glasses. I stood there during the entire eclipse holding the glasses over my camera lens trying different angles and distance until I got a few that worked. The best part is my coworkers could see me from the office window the entire time. I wonder if they though I was nuts. I really can't say. But yes, yes they did.

I'm rather proud of these ones, all captured with a 50-200mm lens and no telescope or special gear outside of a pair of cardboard eclipse glasses.

Equipment: Nikon D5200, Cardboard Eclipse Glasses

 

06/05/2012 <DIR> Sun and Transit of Venus> Woodbury, MN

1) Venus transit B&W
2) B&W with info
3) Actual color from lens setup

For my first post I thought it'd be appropriate to throw it back to my first real (and really bad) attempt at astrophotography, the 2012 transit of Venus, when the planet Venus passed across the face of the sun.

I found out about the transit a day before it was supposed to happen and didn't have time to order a pair of eclipse glasses to watch the transit, so I made a trip to Home Depot and picked up a pair of welding goggles thinking that would do the trick. Before the transit started I aimed the welding goggle lens at the sun hoping to see it worked. It didn't. It was still far too bright to capture anything.

I scrambled to find as many pair of shades as possible, took the lenses out, and taped them in a stack on top of the welding goggle lens. I aimed the whole thing at the sun and to my complete shock, it actually worked. I could see a small dark spot slowly passing across the face of the sun.

I held the entire stack of lenses against my Nikon D40X and went to work until the transit was over. A true DIY setup.

When I was first taking a look at the images I thought the extra spots were dust or lens scratches, but after comparing them to professional photos they turned out to be actual sunspots which was a really cool bonus.

Equipment: Nikon D40X, A Bunch of Sunglasses

 

 

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