7 June 2013

Silver Rock Photoshoot

Below are few of my first snaps of the Moon taken on April 3rd, 2013, using Nikon D5100 along with my M42 (Orion StarSeeker 130 Telescope). Also used a Moon Filter. These photos were taken using afocal method and so the images are not properly focused.

12 May 2013

Spotting the ISS

It was on the evening of 2nd of May, I was riding on my way to work. Just as I was climbing Kattipara Jn, I saw a bright red object in the sky, quite close to Jupiter. I was quite surprised as there couldn't be any object so close to the Jupiter. I looked up again and realized it was moving slowing past the giant planet. I knew it had to be a satellite. After a week, I was checking the Stellarium to find out what that satellite was and I was surprised to know it was none other than ISS (International Space Station). Below is a screen shot from Stellarium.

18 March 2013

Milky Way - A Magic Beyond Imagination

Living in the heart of the city, it is impossible for us to see the beauty of the Milky Way. But we can see this natural beauty with the help of a digital camera. Last month, I went to the Marina Beach as early as 4:00 in the morning with my friend's DSLR (Nikon D5100). Using the Sky Map Android App, I identified the spot where the Milky Way would be at its brightest and took a few snaps of the night sky. And below is the result I got.

The above picture was an epic failure. At first I tried to take the photos with different settings of ISO, aperture and shutter speed. After taking about 8 photos, I thought the above picture was the best I could get. What a disappointment! The picture contains some bright stars and a lot of sky noise. Could see a bit of Orang-ish colour on the right end, thanks to the Light House. I expected to see atleast a bit of the Milky Way, but found nothing. Disappointed, I went back home.

I then uploaded my pics to my system. I tried to zoom in the picture to see if I could spot anything at all. And then I found something. It could just be some clouds. Or maybe its the Milky Way. I uploaded the photo into the PhotoShop and tried to remove some of the sky noise. And this is what I got.

It is the Milky Way! No doubt. I was literally jumping with joy. The morning was not in vain after all. Now I wanted to know if I could do any better with this picture. I think its best for me to mention that this was my first ever experiment with the PhotoShop. After trying to remove more sky noise, this is what I got.

Neat!!! But not enough. The Light House has played a spoil-sport. I wanted to remove that Orange noise on the right end. I tried various methods but removing the noise made the picture worse. After nearly experimenting for 2 weeks with the PhotoShop, I believe I got the best out of the ordinary picture I took.

I am now official in love with the PhotoShop. I still couldn't believe that I was able to get such a wonderful picture out of nothing. Truly, a Magic beyond Imagination.

11 March 2013

Airplane near Orion

Above is a picture I clicked a few months ago. I was trying to take a picture of the Orion Constellation when I realized an airplane had traveled right through the frame. After using the Photoshop to remove the sky noise (noise formed due to the city lights) the trail of the Airplane was visible clearly.

The almost straight line in the bottom-middle of the picture is formed by the Airplane due to the 20-sec exposure. The White dots and the red dots around the line are caused by the flickering navigation lights of the Airplane.

Apart from the Airplane we can also see the Orion Nebula shining bright along with Rigel and the Red Supergaint, Betelguese.

6 March 2013

Comet Pan-STARRS - First Look

Below is the first picture of the Comet Pan-STARRS. The Comet looks really bright and promising. The Comet is currently visible in the Southern Hemisphere during the evening after sunset. In the Northern Hemisphere, the comet is still very close to the Sun and it cannot be seen yet.

Comet Pan-STARRS illuminates the evening sky with a spectacular tail in Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 2, 2013

The Comet is expected to make an appearance in the Northern Hemisphere by March 10th. Keep your binoculars and DSLRs ready.

17 February 2013

Russian Meteorite has nothing to do with 2012 DA14

This story begins approximately a year back. In February 23, 2012, a free asteroid was discovered. It was calculated that this asteroid would travel very close to Earth on February 15, 2013. This asteroid was named 2012 DA14. This asteroid was approximately 50 meters in diameter. The asteroid was said to travel as close as 30,000 km from Earth which is closer than the Geosynchronous orbit (Orbits of Geosynchronous Satellites).

An Artistic Impression of Earth and Asteroid 2012 DA14

Trajectory of Asteroid 2012 DA14

About 15 hours before the passing of this asteroid there was a meteor event near Chelyabinsk, Russia. An object (now called Chelyabinsk Meteor) from space entered the Earth’s atmosphere thereby becoming a fireball. This object was estimated to be of a diameter of 17 meters. This object was undetected until it reached the atmosphere due to its relatively small size. This object was said to have been travelling at a speed of 108000 km/h before impact. The energy released by this meteor was said to be 500 kilotons of TNT which is 20-30 times more than that of the atom bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This energy created a shock wave which injured about 1200 people mainly due to the glass shattered from windows. Three impact sites of the meteor were found. One of the impact sites had fragments of the meteorite.

Trail left over by Chelyabinsk Meteor

NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) confirmed that the Chelyabinsk Meteor had nothing to do with the asteroid 2012 DA14. The asteroid continued to pass through about 15 hours after the event. They are still investigating on the meteor.

A video of the Meteor and the shock wave it left

10 February 2013

Where to Look for Comet Pan-STARRS

Amateur Comet Hunters who do not know where to look for the Comet Pan-STARRS, I hope that this article would help you. I have taken a few screenshots with the help of online Planetarium Neave, and marked the location of the Comet.

This is the position of the Sun and the Comet on Feb 25th at about 06:00 pm. Since the altitude of the Comet is lower to that of the Sun, the Comet would not be visible.

On March 2nd, the Comet would have traveled a little higher in altitude, but it still wouldn't be visible.

On March 7th, the Comet looks to be at a good viewable altitude. Not sure if the Comet will be visible then. The first visibility of the Comet should be any day between March 7th and March 10th.

On March 12th the Comet should definitely be visible since its altitude is higher to that of the Sun. Lets hope its bright enough with a long tail and most importantly, let's hope its a clear sky.

The below illustration shows how the Comet may look like on March 12th, 16th 20th and 24th. Definitely looks promising. Make sure you enjoy this rare evening beauty throughout March.

Below is the first photograph of the Comet with a tail. This was shot in New Zealand in January.

3 February 2013

Comets of 2013

Comets are unique objects which are a part of our Solar System. They are basically asteroids which take more of a unusual orbital path around the Sun. Comets are distinguished from Asteroids by its tail. The nucleus of a Comet is made up of icy particles and they start to melt as they go close to the Sun, which forms the tail. The tail never tells us the direction of the Comet’s path but it always points away from the Sun. Not all comets have a tail. Some tails are tiny and cannot be seen. Few tails are larger than the Comet itself and few take up a weird shape.

The most famous of all Comets is the Halley’s Comet which appears once every 76 years. This comet has been recorded since 240 BC until its last appearance in 1986. It is expected to appear again in 2061. The last visible appearance of a Comet was Hale-Bopp in 1997.

Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997

Comets are rare. They need to be both closer to the Earth and Sun for us to see the tail with our naked eye. Lots of Comets were discovered since Hale-Bopp but none of it made a grand appearance. But 2013 is in for a surprise.

Two Comets were discovered recently that can give out a decent appearance (at least) this year. Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) is expected to appear bright in the evening sky in the second week of March. And Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is expected to appear in late November. Both these comets are expected to be bright enough to be seen by our naked eye. But a beauty of a Comet depends on its tail. So nothing can be promised until the Comet makes the appearance. Comet ISON is expected to be the Comet of the Century (just predictions) but November is still at far. Let’s keep our focus on PANSTARRS for now.

With only 4 weeks away, Comet PANSTARRS is too close to the Sun for us to see it now. We can only see the Comet in the second week of March (approx on Mar 10). Keep an eye out in the West during and after sunset. The Comet may last the entire March and April but only if it acts as it has been predicted to do. Keep your cameras ready and keep your fingers crossed.