Sunday, February 15, 2015

What if the universe had no beginning?

What if the universe had no beginning? --
Reports of the death of the Big Bang have been greatly exaggerated. Big Bang theory is alive and well. At the same time, our universe may not have a beginning or end.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Total Lunar Eclipse April 14-15, 2014

Object:Total Lunar Eclipse
Date:Monday 14 April, 2014 11:50PM - 15 April, 2014 2:50AM / 15 Jamadi-At-Thani 1435 H.
Location:Murrieta, California
  • Canon EOS Rebel XT with Tamron 55-200mm lens on a tripod with remote shutter.
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 clock timer
These are my pictures of the Total Lunar Eclipse around midnight between April 14th and 15th, 2014, as observed from Murrieta, California. Southern California was nicely situated for observing this total lunar eclipse. I got my gear setup by 11:50, and the eclipse was already under way, and the moon had just started to enter the umbra (the dark part of the Earth's shadow).

I took many shots are five minute intervals, bracketing the exposure so I could later pick the best exposures. The shots were taken at 200mm, ISO-800, f/8 and the shutter speed varied from  1/1000s to 1s through the entire session. After totality, I used longer shutter speeds.

I made a time-lapse video out of the stills. The video shows the eclipse progressing up to totality. After that the video shows the exposure slowly increasing to make visible the dim reddish moon. The reddish color is due to the red part of the Sun's light getting refracted around the Earth's atmosphere, making it into the Earth's shadow, and falling onto the dark moon's surface.

The last part of the video shows a wider angle shot with the planet Mars making a guest appearance.


Lunar Eclipse - Near Totality

Total Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse with Labels

Total Lunar Eclipse - wide angle with planet Mars

Total Lunar Eclipse - wide angle with planet Mars and Labels

Time-lapse video of the eclipse

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Amazing video zooms in onto spiral galaxy NGC 1637 in Eridanus

This video starts from a beautiful view of the whole Milky Way galaxy, and zooms in on the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 in the constellation Eridanus near Orion.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Comet PANSTARRS and the new moon

Object: Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) with the New Moon Crescent
Date: Tuesday 12 March, 2013 7:30 PM / starts 1 Jamadi-Al-Awwal, 1434 H.
Location: Lake Elsinore, California
  • Canon Rebel XT with Tamron 55-200mm lens on a tripod.
Comet PANSTARRS and the new moon crescent featuring a conjunction over Lake Elsinore.

Closeup - 200 mm at f/5.6, 1 sec exposure and ISO 800.

The pair setting behind the mountains over Lake Elsinore.
135 mm at f/4, 2.5 sec exposure at ISO 800.

Closeup of the Comet: (Day 2) 13 March 2013 on S Main Divide road off of Highway 74
200 mm f/5.6 2 sec exposure at ISO 800.

Observation Log:
I drove from Murrieta to Lake Elsinore to the observation point on Grape Street. After offering the Maghrib (sunset) prayers at 7:03 PM I setup the camera and tried some test shots. At 7:23 PM I saw the crescent moon appear as the sky got slightly darker. Any prayers we make upon sighting a new moon are surely accepted, so I immediately raised my hands and made a few special prayers. I then started to look for the comet using my Orion WorldView 10x50 binoculars. At 7:27 PM I sighted the comet, Alhamdulillah. I could also make out the tail as you see in the pictures above! By 7:30 PM I was able to spot it barely with the naked eye, too.

I took a total of 46 pictures, bracketing around the optimum exposure, as the camera indicated. I also tried different zoom settings and some vertical shots. Finally at 7:53 PM the comet followed the moon and set behind the mountains.

The two pictures above are the best of the 46 shots I took. No processing was done except for reducing the image size and adding the text, and jpeg compressing of 75%.  Unfortunately, blogger seems to compress it more, thus reducing the quality even more.

A couple was also observing at the other end of the parking lot. Closer to me was another guy just hanging out in his truck. I walked up to him and showed him the comet with my binoculars. He was thrilled and very pleased. Another guy walked up from the road with his dog and asked "what kind of resolution do you need to take a picture of that?" as he started to play with his little iPhone. Resolution??? What you need is aperture, and the ability to control the exposure time.

Day 2: I drove with my family to a turnout on N. Main Divide off of Ortega Highway (Hwy 74). I was able to observe the comet with my binoculars briefly before it disappeared behind the mountain. This location was not very good. Then we quickly got into the car and drove to the other side of Ortega Highway on the next turnout on S Main Divide. From there we were able to see the comet for about twenty minutes or so. The last picture above was one of the better ones from the ninety pictures that I took from S Main Divide.

Subhan Allah. And Alhamdulillah these pictures turned out to be rather good.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New moon 12-Jan-2012 / 1 Rabi-Al-Awwal 1413H

Object:New Moon Crescent
Date: Saturday 12 January, 2013 5:40 PM / starts 1 Rabi-Al-Awwal, 1434 H.
  • Motorola Droid 3 camera
New moon crescent witnessed by myself (Tasmin Ahmad), and my sons Zeerek and Taiqoor at 5:40PM in Murrieta, California.

The new moon signals the start of the Islamic month of Rabi-Al-Awwal in the year 1434 A.H.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blue Moon over Lake Elsinore

Object:Blue Moon over Lake Elsinore
Date: Friday 31 August, 2012 8:11 PM
  • Canon EOS Rebel XT with Canon 18-55mm zoom lens

These are my pictures of the blue moon over Lake Elsinore. To take these pictures, I made a pre-planned stop on my way home near the Lookout Roadhouse on the mountains overlooking Lake Elsinore on the eve of the Blue Moon.
Blue moon is not really blue. It just means that it was the second full moon in one Gregorian calendar month. Most of the time there is one full moon in a Gregorian month, but because the lunar month is 29.5 days long, sometimes there are two full moons in a month.

The images were taken on a tripod mount. Some tweaking was done in gimp to enhance the images.


Single frame of the blue moon over Lake Elsinore; minor contrast and brightness adjustments were done; the image was res-sized and jpeg compressed with gimp.
Exposure: 20mm f/5.6 1/8s ISO-800

Panorama created with eight frames that were stitched together using canon's stitching app; levels and curves adjustments were done to remove the stitch seams; the image was res-sized and jpeg compressed with gimp.
Exposure: 20mm f/5.6 1/8s ISO-800