Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Night sky + Possible Aurora Conditions, again

It is possible to see three of the Solar System's planets shining brightly in the early night sky. Looking generally to the West after Sunset, Jupiter and Venus are easily spotted as the brightest objects in that direction. I photographed those last month as can be seen HERE though the Moon is nowhere near them in the sky now.

At the moment Mars is almost as close as it will get this year. Its nearest was a few nights ago but cloud here spoilt that photo opportunity. It is virtually opposite the Sun and will be directly South about midnight here. I went out 8pm. ish when the sky was relatively clear and Mars could be seen shining much brighter than any of the stars even though there was a full Moon.

There are a couple of stars at the top left and also near the bottom right (though you may need to enlarge it to spot them) with Mars shining brightly at the centre of this photo.

 Mars IMG_3821

I tried to get the Moon and Mars on one frame but the difference in brightness made that impossible, for my abilities anyway. I did take the opportunity to shoot the full Moon. Not the best time to show detail as the face on light from the Sun gives no shadows to emphasise the craters. After a bit of manipulating in Photoshop Elements adjusting levels to increase contrast this was about the best I achieved.

Full Moonm IMG_3818

Photos taken with a Canon 50D fitted with the Canon IS 100-400mm lens, ISO 1250, hefty tripod and cable release.
Mars shot:  400mm 2.5 seconds f5.6 manual focus
Moon shot: 400mm  1/800sec  f10 auto focus
Both photos are cropped.

Aurora Possibility.

A  lively Sunspot sent a very active coronal mass ejection out recently. Fortunately it is not heading directly towards the Earth but should hit a glancing blow today. I say fortunately as a direct hit from this one could cause all sorts of problems to power supplies and electronic communications. There is still a possibility of some disruption to satellite communications (sat nav and such like) and power companies are monitoring the situation. If this event causes auroras there is a possibility of them being seen much further from the poles than usual.


  1. Very interesting photos, John and thanks for including all the technical data about them. I've never tried this kind of photography but often wish I could capture night scenes better. The first thing I would need would be that steady tripod and a cable release.

  2. Hello Mick. A cable release makes a lot of difference, especially on long exposures. My tripod was stood on the back lawn. I tried gently pressing the shutter button on the camera at first but could see slight movement through the viewfinder. With the cable release things looked rock steady. Even the clatter of the camera mirror can cause small vibrations. Some people set up the shot and then lock the mirror up before taking the shot. I haven't tried that method yet.

  3. What a breathe taking shot of the Moon.

    Me in Minnesota


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

Related Posts with Thumbnails