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Viewing Comet Lovejoy January 8, 2015

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2 is about 4th magnitude right now. if your observing sight is dark, it’s easily naked eye. Urban observers aren’t so lucky, but it’s bright enough to be picked by a camera!

You’ll need a camera you can set the exposure and focus on (some smart phone apps will do that.) I strongly recommend a tripod since you’ll need an exposure of a few seconds.

Focus first on Jupiter: it’s bright enough to see through your viewfinder, and rises by the time the sky is dark enough to see the comet.

Once you’ve got a good focus, point your camera so Orion is on the left side of your view, and Taurus at the top middle. As it gets latter in the month, adjust the position so Taurus is on the left, and Orion is out of the view. Check the maps on the Sky & Telescope website for a more precise location.

Take exposures ranging from about half a second to about 15 seconds – the longer your exposure, the better the comet will look, but too long and the sky brightness may wash out everything.  You should have a very wide field image.


about 5 seconds…

Once back inside, you can zoom in and crop to get a better composed picture.


Of course, if your skies are this bad, adding a little guidance might help.

There's the comet! Really!

There’s the comet! Really!

Ok, you’re unimpressed. I can tell. But consider how bright those trees are. And, it was so cold my camera stopped working. Hey, if you think you can do better, prove it! Share your photos!

Cosmic Light 2015 Video Trailer – To celebrate the cosmic light coming down to earth | IAU August 11, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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Cosmic Light 2015 Video Trailer – To celebrate the cosmic light coming down to earth | IAU.

IYA was awesome, and many great things came out of it. I don’t know yet if great things will come from IYL, but the trailer sure is cool.

Mosaic from The Day The Earth Smiled November 12, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Science.
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CICLOPS – Official Source of Cassini images of Saturn, its rings & moons.

This is a truly stunning set of images. In fact, I can’t really come up with anything else to say, except wow. Saturn is beautiful, as always. But then there are it’s moons: beautiful, surprising, weird, and wonderful. And then, the tiny, little blue dot.

I hope you were smiling!

Pale Blue Dot: Distant Spacecraft Photograph Earth – NASA Science July 23, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Science.
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Pale Blue Dot: Distant Spacecraft Photograph Earth – NASA Science.

Last Friday, many people all over the world took a moment to stop and wave at Saturn while the Cassini spacecraft snapped our picture. And what a great picture it is too!

You might also want to check out, or submit your own photos to, the Saturn Masaic Project, http://www.astronomerswithoutborders.org/tdtes-saturn-mosaic-project.html.

In case you aren’t familiar with the Pale Blue Dot reference, it comes from Carl Sagan, from a commencement speech “Reflections on a Mote of Dust” and his Book, the Pale Blue Dot. As Voyager 1 was headed out of the solar system, Sagan asked the team to turn the spacecraft to face each planet and take a picture, creating a Solar System Family Portrait. There’s a lovely poster with the Family Portrait and an excerpt from Sagan’s speech at http://arnett.us.com/psc/guest/SaganPoster1.pdf.