Serenity now!

Just one of those evenings where the only things to say are “oooooh” and “aaaaah.”

Thin crescent moon in sunset.
Crescent moon shines as setting sun paints the sky.

And the sharp-eyed observers in Greenbrier, Arkansas, found a planet hiding in the pixels. Props to @AstroScanObs!

Asto Scan

Lunar eclipse

As much as we hate getting up early on the weekend, the bright moon beamed its own wakeup call through the unshaded window just before 5 a.m.  — just in time for us to see the show. And what a show it was!  The composite below begins at 5:21 a.m. CDT and the last frame was taken at 6:07 a.m., just as the sun was rising.  The full eclipse was too faint to see in the dawn-bright sky.

composite of lunar eclipse phases
LUNAR ECLIPSE — How it looked from suburban Ferndale on April 4, 2015.  It was the first clear sky day we’ve had in weeks, it seems.
moon entering eclipse
GOOD MORNING — Shadow just beginning to move across the moon.

Weekly photo challenge: Serenity

Finding serenity any time is a challenge, and this week it IS the challenge.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to capture the latest comet Lovejoy in pixels. Tonight’s effort was flustered by clouds, but one shot — a test shot setting up — seemed to hit all the right notes.  The soft light in the cloud,  the familiar pinpoints of starlight and the warm glow coming from the house next door all seemed to be a little bit of serenity.

1-19 NightSkyTrees

Other bits of serenity from this week’s challenge:

Eastern and west

Another attempt at shooting the night sky. Through the viewfinder it appeared as if the tree was strung with tiny white lights, but it turned out many of the leaves on this struggling oak had their own glint.  Tonight, we’ll stay up to see Mars, the Orionids and maybe, just maybe, catch a glimpse of Comet Ison.  (The Waiting for Ison blog has lovely  illustrations showing what you can expect to see and when, in the night sky.)

Night Sky looking east
Eastern sky last night.
Moonset and sunrise
Western sky this morning with gibbous moon and 360 degree pink ring around the horizon.  

Night skies

Compact digital cameras are a little like haiku. With both, there is a seemingly infinite amount of expression that can be coaxed from a device for creativity whose form is subject to certain dictates. In haiku, there is a narrow path defined for words by number of on. In compact digital photography, the narrow path for light is determined by optics, sensors and software.

That being said, it doesn’t mean we don’t try to push the limits of what these little  electronic wonders can do. Below are attempts at stretching the cameras into capturing the clear and cloudless night skies that appear with autumn’s Canadian cold fronts.* (see disclaimers below)

CITY GLOW — Even 18 miles outside of downtown Little Rock, there’s still the glow of the metropolis.
MILKY WAY — An attempt to capture the Milky Way.

* Disclaimer I: Owner’s manual? What’s that?
* Disclaimer II: These photos do not capture the sheer not-in-vain OH MY GOD! awe of the night sky. I never tire of gazing admiringly at the immensity above.

Super moon!

We were blessed with mostly clear skies tonight for the astronomical double-header: a super moon and a meteor shower.  Armed with two Canon DSLRs, a Sony and the Panasonic, the Sony got the shot of the night.

Earlier, folks on the Jersey side of the Hudson had a spectacular view. Check out the photo.*

SUPER MOON! — A beautiful night for a moonrise.

*Do you have any idea how many great pizza joints you can see from Eagle Rock Reservation?