Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kitt Peak by Night

A five hour long exposure of the 2.3 and 4 meter telescopes atop Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson. Actually this is a composite of 545 seperate 30 seconds exposures taken last night from that venue. Moonlight from the first quater moon illuminated the domes for half of the sequence hence the "daylight" appearence of the the buildlings. Brake lights from cars headed down the moutain after the nightly public evening illuminated the 2.3 building during a few of the exposures giving that telescope a red highlight. Details: Canon EOS 1D | Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 L lens at 24mm | 545 x 30 seconds @ F/3.2 | ISO 1000

Friday, September 14, 2007

LBT Rising

While working at the VATT on Mount Graham I was lucky enough to witness a spectacular sight - a photo-op with the largest Telescope in the continental US - the LBT. A couple of the engineers from the LBT showed up at the VATT wanting to use our roof as a vantage point to photograph the LBT opening for a night of observing. I asked if I might participate if I loaned them a tripod - they agreed. :-) Below are a few images from a tour of the observatory earlier in the afternoon followed by a couple of shots taken of the opening from the roof of the VATT. Thanks to Ray, Aaron, Tim and Tom!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vista de la Santa Cruz

Shot a wedding on Saturday (well a 50th Anniversary renewal of vows) at Santa Cruz Church in South Tucson. First time I've ever been at this beautiful venue. The church was built in 1919 and is older than St. Augustine's Cathedral! Here are a couple of shots I took prior to the ceremony. the image above is a HDR (High Dynamic Range) reproduction - a composite of the same scene as captured -1.75, 0, +1.75 stops from nominal exposure through the Canon 5D with a 16-35mm F/2.8L lens using a polarizer and 2 stop Grad-ND filter. Below is a single image from the same camera and lens/filter combination.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Sky is Falling II . . .

This morning the sky fell again - this time pieces of comet Kiess (C/1911 N1) from it's last passage into the solar system in ~ 83 AD. The comet is a long period interloper from the Oort cloud and as such may be delivering debris that is pristine from the birth of the solar system. The peak was due at around 4:36am local time but visual observation suggest that this peak occurred earlier then expected (~4:25 am).

I observed the shower from the roof of my house in suburban Tucson AZ. From 3:30 am to 5:00 am I observed 42 meteors. Corrected for things such as my ability only to monitor half the sky, moonlight and light pollution, altitude of the radiant, etc - I estimate the ZHR at ~95. Not bad for a rare event like this. Most of the meteors observed were very bright (> 2.0 mag) and made for a brilliant show.

While I was visually observing the shower I photographed the event from 4:05am to 5:00am using two tripod mounted DSLRs equipped with a 15mm and 8mm fisheye lenses respectively. Exposures were 5 seconds at F/2.8 and ISO 1600 for the 15mm and 7 seconds at F/3.5 and ISO 1600 for the 8mm. Above and below are composites of the eight brightest meteors captured during the hour long photographic effort.

Below are the full composites of the two images above. The 15mm full composite is the sum of 519 separate images and shows 19 individual Aurigid meteors. The 8mm full composite contains 422 separate images and shows 17 individual meteors. Meteor trails were highlighted for easier identification in the full resolution version of the composite.