Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Enough with the moon already?

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a little taken with the night sky. It doesn't require a telescope and fancy gear to take my fancy. I get along fine with just the moon overhead.

Last night, figuring that the moon was somewhere just past first quarter, I went outside at about 9 p.m., camera and tripod in hand. The moon hung high in the southern sky, framed by pines. Just to the west of the moon and above, Jupiter punched through the darkness.

I walked to the mid-point of the backyard, set up my tripod, adjusted the camera and began shooting. Here's one of the first pictures I took.

When the moon is in its waxing and waning phases, the light is coming from the side and the craters stand out in high relief (compare this to the shots I posted last month).

Now, pulling the moon in a little closer with the zoom, the craters begin to stand out even more. A telescope would be fun, to be sure, but it isn't at all necessary for great shots of the moon. In fact, a cheap pair of binoculars is equally enjoyable.

Can you believe we went there in the late 1960's and early 1970's? How our vision has faded!

Finally, I walked into the shadow of a maple and turned my camera around to the northwest. The Big Dipper was gorgeous, spread out across a large sweep of celestial real estate. I've cropped just the Big Dipper from the frame. In high resolution time exposures, stars show their colors. Off this frame to the bottom right, one particular star is a beautiful red.

While enjoying the night sky, a Great Horned Owl began calling from the woods to our north. It is an eerie enough sound, but standing there in the dark, clad in a bath robe in the chilly night air, the sound stood some of my neck hairs on end.

Hooooo! Hooooo! Hoo, hoo, hoo!

It was time to come back inside and enjoy the warmth of the house for a few minutes before bed.