"Looking Up" Astronomy Blog
Stargazing and Paparazzi of the Night Skies.
Nov 29, 2013 - It seems the Sun has burped up the remains of ISON, after eating it for Thanksgiving dinner. Images from the spacecraft tracking it show it has survived to some extent.
Now, it may not be structured anymore like your classic comet. Some reports say it's a headless, cloud of dust, a decapitated zombie running away from what attacked it. Hopefully it won't head towards earth and attack us.
This weekend will be nice to view the stars and celestial bodies, alive or zombified. Clear skies all weekend and low humidity common with winter should make viewing this monster somewhat easy before sunrise. If it does become visible.
Nov 28, 2013 - Well, forget about seeing that comet in December that astronomers have been talking about all year. The Sun had it for Thanksgiving dinner. ISON is gone. It got too close to the Sun and burned up.
Nov 27, 2013 - So there is a lot of talk about a comet named ISON. Earlier this month, it was visible in the early evening right after sunset as it made its way towards the sun. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to view it due to my work schedule and weather on my off days.
Rounding the back side of the sun right now, ISON is expected to reappear at the start of December. It will be visible in the morning before sunrise (which makes it difficult for me due to having to get up so early). But that's if it survives its trek behind the sun.
Astronomers are worried it may get burned up being so close to the sun. But I just checked out ISON Campaign and they say ISON is alive, based on readings from satellites. But they don't know if it will be intact. It may not have nucleus, or some other deformity.
Nov 3, 2013 - Early tonight after sunset, many people wondered what this bright glowing star-like object was in the sky. Some asked if it was the International Space Station. What it turned out to be was planet Venus.
Venus is a bright object in the SW dusk skies. With a clear, haze free sky, it shines at a magnitude of around -4.2 to -4.5 right now. Pretty bright. The lower the magnitude number is, the brighter the object. The International Space Station shines at a blazing -5.9 when fully lit. But the ISS wasn't visible in SW Virginia today. It won't be again until early Friday morning.
Oct 21, 2013 - Last night was a great night for checking out the stars. During the day, the sky was deep blue, with no signs of clouds coming in over the horizon. Perfect weather conditions for looking many light years into the sky. The only problem was the Waning Gibbous Moon. The almost Full Moon illuminated the sky, causing stars to be washed out in its glow and the Orionids difficult to see.
Robin Reed says this weekend will have clear skies all the way through, so with the Moon down to the last-quarter, it should be better to check out the night skies.
Oct 21, 2013 - There is nothing more exciting than to capture the night sky in a photograph, showing off the stars and constellations we admire in physical form. It doesn't take a professional photographer or fancy camera equipment to do this. Anyone can do this, but it takes a little bit more than it would if taking a candid picture of your pets or friends.
You must use the manual camera settings to get good pictures. The sky is dark and the stars we see with our naked eyes are just pinpoints of light, so you need to open the iris as wide as you can (lowest f number) and increase the exposure time. Manually focus the camera to infinity (icon that looks like a sideways 8).
One thing you must keep in mind when using longer exposures is that due to the earth's rotation, you will see star trails, or streaks that the stars make as they're captured while moving across the sky. You can fix this problem by having the camera mounted on a polar aligned, motorized tripod, but most people don't have such a contraption. But what the average Joe can do is keep the camera's zoom as wide as possible. With such a wide shot, the star movements will not be noticeable. Exposures longer than 30 seconds will begin to show the trailing in wide shots.
Also when taking night sky pictures with long exposures, you need to keep the camera as still as possible, so mount the camera on a tripod or prop it against something sturdy to keep it as still as possible. If you have a remote, use that to snap the picture. If not, set the timer to snap so that the shaking from the shutter press doesn't mess up the picture.
These tips are good for taking pictures of large sections of the night sky, great for capturing your favorite constellation. You may even be lucky to catch a meteor streak across the sky.
Oct 7, 2013 - Tonight is the Draconid meteor shower. This shower is called Draconids because the meteors radiate from near the Draco constellation.
Just because they radiate from Draco doesn't mean you have to know your stars and constellations to see the show. Just look towards the northwestern skies and you'll be sure to see something, as each meteor flies across the sky a good portion of the sky before burning out.
Brent Watts says right after sunset to before midnight will be the best time to view it.
Sep 30, 2013 - Hello blog viewers. This is my first attempt at blogging, so bear with me while I learn all the tricks of creating a blog.
I've been interested in astronomy since I was a kid. I used to wonder what was out there. I would wonder if there are beings millions of light years looking back in our direction wondering the same thing. I always checked out books from the school library with pictures of stars in it when I should've been getting books for other things. Okay, too much reminiscing.
Over the past few years, I've attempted to capture what I've been looking at in the night sky in pictures with varying degrees of success... planets, stars and nebulae... and of course plenty of darkness, streaks and blurs.
So with this blog, I'll tell you about my experiences with astrophotography, what I've learned and give tips if you'd like to try it for yourself, tips on setting up scopes and news of what's happening up above. I'll also share some of my photos. So check back often.