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Starry Starry Night


DaveH
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Over the last 2 weeks we have had some very clear skies and even the city urban light pollution has failed to spoil the visibility of the brighter objects.

The well known winter constellations are still visible in the west after sunset, but unusally 5 of the major planets are currently very prominent even to the naked eye (well, probably 4 of them)

This picture of Jupiter and Venus was taken earlier this evening from my home in Sheffield

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Over the last 2 weeks we have had some very clear skies and even the city urban light pollution has failed to spoil the visibility of the brighter objects.

The well known winter constellations are still visible in the west after sunset, but unusally 5 of the major planets are currently very prominent even to the naked eye (well, probably 4 of them)

This picture of Jupiter and Venus was taken earlier this evening from my home in Sheffield

This one was taken a couple of weeks ago when the moon was in the same region of sky as Jupiter.

Sorry about the glare, to get above the tree in our garden which was obscuring the view I had to go upstairs and take the picture through a bedroom window.

Got that ukelele lady, - I took this picture through a bedroom window, - my own bedroom window! lol

Notice that although the moon is a waxing crescent that the unlit portion of it is clearly visible in the "Ashen Light".

This is light that has reflected off the illuminated potion of the Earth, hit the Moon and then reflected back from the moon's surface.

It is only prominent like this on very clear nights as the Ashen light is very weak and low intensity

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This one was taken a couple of weeks ago when the moon was in the same region of sky as Jupiter.

Sorry about the glare, to get above the tree in our garden which was obscuring the view I had to go upstairs and take the picture through a bedroom window.

Got that ukelele lady, - I took this picture through a bedroom window, - my own bedroom window! lol

Notice that although the moon is a waxing crescent that the unlit portion of it is clearly visible in the "Ashen Light".

This is light that has reflected off the illuminated potion of the Earth, hit the Moon and then reflected back from the moon's surface.

It is only prominent like this on very clear nights as the Ashen light is very weak and low intensity

A shot of the moon in waxing gibbous phase (taken on 5 March) in daylight before sunset.

Taken outside this time, the larger phase of the moon shows more surface details but the atmosphere was not as clear that day and dust or small water droplets in the air have softened the focus.

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Over the last 2 weeks we have had some very clear skies and even the city urban light pollution has failed to spoil the visibility of the brighter objects.

The well known winter constellations are still visible in the west after sunset, but unusally 5 of the major planets are currently very prominent even to the naked eye (well, probably 4 of them)

This picture of Jupiter and Venus was taken earlier this evening from my home in Sheffield

Earlier this evening, around 7pm, Jupiter and Venus were both visible in the western sky just after sunset while the sky still had some colour

Also shows detail when zoomed in, Jupiter on the left, Venus on the right.

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Well done Dave, very good pictures.

Thanks UKL, - no comment about taking pictures through bedroom windows then.

The pictures were not that difficult to take.

They were taken with a digital SLR camera (or more precisely a digtal micro four thirds camera)

All the pictures were taken with a 45mm -200mm zoom lens with normal apertures of f4 to f5.6.

The shot with the trees in the foreground was taken at minimum zoom, all the rest, including the ones with added captions at maximum.

In the micro 4/3 system the focal length is equivalent to half that on a similar 35mm film camera, so this is like using a 90mm lens for the trees in foreground shot and using a 400mm telephoto lens for all the others, so quite a big telephoto.

A tripod is essential to hold that long telephoto steady to take the shot. Although the pictures are taken at night it is better to use a "normal" ASA / ISO speed rating and give a long exposure rather than use a higher ASA / ISO (film speed!!) and a shorter exposure as the higher speed rating increases the image noise. The exposure time on the night shots was around 5 to 8 seconds at f5.6 using a standard 100 ASA / ISO setting so it would be impossible to take the shots without a tripod or firm support given the long exposure times.

I hope this will perhaps encourage other members to "have a go" at photographing the night sky, however my main aim of this topic was not to show the photography side of it as to make people aware of what they can see in the night sky from the Sheffield area as it is quite interesting at present and we have had good viewing conditions. You can't miss Venus and Jupiter as they are bright naked eye objects, but even a simple pair of binoculars will give a better view, - you don't need to have a fancy camera to enjoy the view.

As I teach some astronomy in physics courses it is often difficult to explain which objects are which in the sky and where to look for them, - especially as school lessons take place in daytime and not at night when stars and planets are on view and can be pointed out. Many people do not recognise planets in the sky, usually mistaking them for very bright stars and not being able to tell one planet from another. As Venus and Jupiter are so prominent at present I thought I could point these out to people in the pictures and then they could go and take a look for themselves using just their unaided eyesight.

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As Venus and Jupiter are so prominent at present I thought I could point these out to people in the pictures and then they could go and take a look for themselves using just their unaided eyesight.

Venus and Jupiter are seen in the west between sunset (they are the first 2 objects to appear as the Sun goes down) and about 10pm when they set below the horizon. Venus appears bigger and brighter simply because it is closer to us.

The photos clearly show "phases" (not full circles) of these planets depending on the angle that the Sun's light catches them and reflects off. Unlike stars they do not radiate light of their own.

A good pair of binoculars or a small telescope aimed at Jupiter may reveal up to 4 of its moons orbiting it.

Later in the evening, looking southwards about 11pm to midnight the brighter red coloured object is Mars, - currently in the star constellation of Leo if you can recognise star patterns.

Even later, and over to the east of Mars is Saturn, much dimmer but still brighter than the stars around it. Without binoculars of a small telescope don't expect to be able to see its famous ring system.

Technically it is possible to see Mercury as well, a very difficult object to spot as it is close to the Sun. It is in the sky the same time as Venus and located between Venus and the Sun. I have not seen it as there is too much dusk sunlight in the sky making the sky too bright to see it at the time it is there, it seems to have set before the sky gets dark enough.

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Venus and Jupiter are seen in the west between sunset (they are the first 2 objects to appear as the Sun goes down) and about 10pm when they set below the horizon. Venus appears bigger and brighter simply because it is closer to us.

A bit disappointing tonight.

After sunset / dusk the sky was a bit hazy.

Then it was OK and you could get a good view for a short while

Then the sky clouded over so that you couldn't see a thing.

Due to the relative motion of the planets Jupiter and Venus should appear as close as they are going to get to each other, as viewed from the Earth, before moving apart again, but when they could be seen they appeared to be in very similar relative positions to what they were in last night.

They may actually get to their closest during the day when out of view from us.

That means someone half way around the world like THYLACINE would have to do the observing ;-)

By the way THYLACINE (and anyone else living in the southern hemisphere) my photos will appear upside down to you and so a statement like "Venus is to the right of Jupiter" which I made in a previous post would become "Venus is to the left of Jupiter" to a southern hemisphere observer.

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Thanks Dave, I found your observations fascinating even though I am not much of an astronomer.

I took this picture but having difficulty identifying the planets. :)

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Earlier this evening, around 7pm, Jupiter and Venus were both visible in the western sky just after sunset while the sky still had some colour

Also shows detail when zoomed in, Jupiter on the left, Venus on the right.

Just come in - looking up at the Sky I wondered what those two were - not many street light where I am - thanks Dave

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Thanks Dave, I found your observations fascinating even though I am not much of an astronomer.

I took this picture but having difficulty identifying the planets. :)

Looks like Venus and Pluto to me.

Venus as the godess of love and Pluto, no longer classed as a planet anyway and certainly not a naked eye object now appearing only as Mickey Mouse's dog.

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Thanks Dave, I found your observations fascinating even though I am not much of an astronomer.

I took this picture but having difficulty identifying the planets. :)

I'm not so sure how Venus and Jupiter would look, or at what times of day, in Australia with the inverted perspective as previously described.

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Just come in - looking up at the Sky I wondered what those two were - not many street light where I am - thanks Dave

Thanks Dunsbyowl, post served its purpose then.

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