Eclipse, not — Conjunction, hot!

See the eclipse? Not sure we can either. Side-by-side images made about half an hour apart, shot and processed with identical settings.

Penumbral lunar eclipses — when the Moon passes through the thin outer shadow Earth casts into space — are not spectacular. We described the July 4 – 5, 2020 eclipse as “subtle” when we wrote about it in advance. It turned out to be not-even-subtle. Essentially nobody could tell whether an eclipse had even happened, even in photographs tortured to bring out shadow details. Announcing penumbral eclipses is tricky: if nothing is said about them before they happen, we get asked why; if we promote the eclipse and even say it may be slight, people get disappointed when they hardly see the effects or don’t see anything happen at all. Still, we got to talk about the geometry of eclipses and people looked at our beautiful Moon, and that’s something.

A gorgeous high resolution portrait of Earth’s Moon at the height of the penumbral eclipse of July 4 – 5, 2020. Can’t see the eclipse shadow? Nope. That’s okay with the photographer. Credit: Alan Studt.

CAA member and accomplished photographer Alan Studt took advantage of the brilliant Moon to make its portrait. Studt explained this photo of the Moon is a composite, made up of images recorded at the peak of the eclipse. “Never saw a shadow,” he wrote, “which was fine with me.”

The Moon was shot with a telescope focal length of 4,400mm, at f/20, 1/80th sec., and ISO 250. It is made of 12 images (4 rows of 3 images)
stitched together in Lightroom and post-processed using Camera RAW in Photoshop.
Happily for skywatchers, the July Fourth holiday weekend presented a second opportunity for enjoyment: the conjunction of the “Full Buck Moon,” with planets Jupiter and Saturn. Clouds interfered, or possibly enhanced, photographic efforts. By eye, the trio was glorious with the dominant Moon, brilliant Jupiter, and shy Saturn gracing a sky full of moonglow.
Shot about an hour after moonrise, the Full Moon glowed brilliantly orange, lending color to the encroaching clouds. Jupiter is above Moon in this photo, Saturn is at the edge of a cloud on the left. A single DSLR exposure. Photo by James Guilford.

Alan Studt made his picture from two different shots/exposures: One shot for the clouds & one shot for the Moon. The clouds, Saturn, Jupiter and its moons (look closely at Jupiter) were all in one shot, 180mm, f/5. Just the Moon & clouds shot were 550mm, f6.3 Sky: 1/13th sec., ISO 5000. Moon: 1/125th sec., ISO 80. The images were post-processed in Lightroom & layer blended in Photoshop.

Conjunction photo combines separate exposures to show lunar features as well as moonlit clouds. Look closely, you may be able to make out the tiny dots of the Galilean Moons. Photo by Alan Studt.

Matt Franduto

Conjunction. by Matt Franduto.

Hubble Space Telescope at 30

Deep space image from Hubble Space Telescope
This image is one of the most photogenic examples of the many turbulent stellar nurseries the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed during its 30-year lifetime. The portrait features the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor NGC 2020 which together form part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, approximately 163,000 light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI

Beautiful M42 in crystalline skies

Orion Nebula, M42, by Hayden Gill. February 2020

Hayden Gill, a member of our Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) braved a very cold but crystal-clear February night collecting image data to create this picture; it was also his very successful first effort at image stacking.

Gill wrote: “I shot it with a Nikon D7200 on a SkyWatcher EvoStar 80ED {telescope}, CGEM II mount. For guiding I have a 60mm ZWO scope and a ZWO 174 mono” guide camera. He used his Nikon for the data capture and Deep Sky Stacker to build the image. Each exposure was two minutes at ISO 800. He used 34 light images, 20 darks, 20 flats, 25 bias frames. Post processing was in Photoshop.

“This was my first attempt at astrophotography stacking. First time stacking and first time really putting all my gear to use how I have been intending to. Can’t wait to get back out!”

We will be eager to see Gill’s continued progress and images!

Old Moon rising

Image: Moonrise over Cleveland. Credit: Frank Shoemaker.
Old Moon Rising. Cleveland, Ohio’s downtown skyline with waning Crescent Moon rising. The moon was about 32.5 hours until new. Credit: Frank Shoemaker

This beautiful new shot of an “old” Moon rising was made by Cuyahoga Astronomical Association member Frank Shoemaker. The photographer writes, “I shot this image this morning [September 27] at 5:50.  The moon was about 32.5 hours until new. So far, this is the closest I’ve shot the moon to being new.”

The “new” phase is the end of the lunar cycle aging from Full, and fully-lit, to New and fully-dark; it’s also the beginning of the next cycle, thus New Moon.

“I shot it from the west end of Edgewater Park on the new pier down at the water. I used a Canon 7D Mark II with the 100-400 mm lens at about 260 mm. It’s a single exposure, 2 seconds at f/9, ISO 2000.” Shoemaker explained. “I processed the image through Topaz Labs DeNoise AI and finished it in Lightroom. I planned the shot with the Photographers Ephemeris app.”