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.