ISS Brightest Line Crossing the Night Sky

Watching the International Space Station zooming across the night sky is truly awe inspiring. Have you ever thought about the technical know-how required to build such a complex research station in space, not to mention the coordination and cooperation needed among peoples of different nations to achieve this feat? I find it fascinating!

Last night I was so excited to see if I could do this…I had a plan to go out and photograph the ISS crossing the sky. We had a 4 minute viewing window at our location in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

With about 15 minutes to spare I got the tripod set up right outside in our driveway and the camera focused in time to capture a couple of 25 second exposures. I was thrilled!

This is my new desktop image…

International Space Station Looking West
International Space Station Looking West

…and the space station as it traveled to the north.

International Space Station Looking North
International Space Station Looking North

Canon T4i camera with wide angle lens EFS 10-18mm, 25 sec., f/4.5, 1600 ISO using a tripod. Looking West, then North at 8:41pm, 26Sep2017.
(Click on any image to see a larger view.)

Images were processed in camera using ‘Long exp. noise reduction’ feature in the menu settings, but they weren’t post-processed in any way other than cropping to a much smaller size for posting here and emailing to a few friends.

These long-exposure images accent the brightness of this heavenly body, don’t they? When you look for the ISS you’ll know you’ve spotted it as it’s the brightest moving object in the night sky. And, it moves fast, like 17,500 miles per hour!

How did I know where to see the space station? Couldn’t do it without NASA’s Spot the Station website to find out where to look for ISS. It’s also mind-blowing to consider that someone figured out how to calculate where to look to see ISS and when – to the minute – for anyone standing anywhere on Earth!

Airplanes will make sound and have flashing lights that distinguish them from satellites, including the space station. With their proximity to Earth airplanes only reach 600 miles per hour or so, so they move slowly compared to ISS.

Jumbo Jet Airplane Flying West
Jumbo Jet Airplane Flying West
Blow up that image and you’ll see the intermittent red and green dots across the path of the plane. Those are the flashing lights that let us know it’s de plane!

Another streak across the sky that you might not notice at first when taking long exposures comes from satellites, other than ISS. (Photo taken 25Sep2017.)

Unknown Satellite Streaks Across the Night Sky
Unknown Satellite Streaks Across the Night Sky
Most satellites don’t have huge solar panels that reflect sunlight back down to Earth like ISS so they appear faint in photographs.

You can still see satellites with the naked eye, but you do need to concentrate your gaze in one direction.

So, the next time you’re out after dark, look up at the stars and see what else is out there!

Milky Way First

My first foray into photographing the Milky Way ended up with a respectable image, but there’s lots more to learn!

A good first photographic image of the Milky Way.
Milky Way First

This shot was taken in our driveway about 11pm on 23 September 2017. If I waited a little longer the image could have been improved slightly just by having more time pass since the waning crescent moon had set. I wonder if it’s still casting light into the image.

I didn’t use the ‘Long exp. noise reduction’ feature in the menu settings, but will attempt that on future astro-photo nights.

With a tripod and wired release the camera settings were 30 second exposure, f/4.5 and ISO 3200 using a wide-angle Canon EFS 10-18mm lens with stabilizer off and manual focus on.

The red cast on the leaves at the top left was produced by the red tank light that I had inadvertently left on during the exposure. Those leaves are still in green in real life. Accidental light painting at its best!

To be fair the image was slightly enhanced via GIMP by layering the camera-provided jpg image over the RAW camera image with a ‘grain merge’ filter at 36% opacity.

Foggy Morning in the Mountains

We usually see a lot more fogginess in the Springtime when there often is rain and cool nights. This Winter has so far been a little topsy-turvy, warm then frigid then warm again, so we’ve seen our share of fog lately. No snow to mention except for a little dusting one time.

Yesterday, I ventured out to see what cloud formations I might find to photograph after a rainy night with a partly cloudy day promised by the weather forecast. It was mostly cloudy for starters then it became overcast.

Looking down the mountain ridge and across the valley from a higher vantage point than the road, you could see how the fog settled in the low areas.

Foggy Mountain Morning
Foggy Mountain Morning

Can you see the car headlights on the country road that snakes through the hills?

A black and white treatment seemed fitting for this very grey scene. A light rain rolled in and stopped the fun, but I now know a place to return to for more photo ops!

This view of the valley between mountain ridges is wonderful to watch as the seasons progress. Check out a color version of a similar scene as above that was taken a little higher on the hill.

Foggy Morning in the Valley
Foggy Morning in the Valley

In the color version barns are more visible and the colors of the planted and tilled farmland come out of hiding on the left.

As a landscape image I think it gives a pleasant relaxed feeling, and I can’t help wondering where the people in those cars are going.

To see either image in full size, visit Liz’s site on pixels.

Art Prints

Super Blood Moon Eclipse

Super Blood Harvest Full Moon Eclipse Sep 27, 2015

Super Blood Moon
Super Blood Moon

Just posted a video of my best images from last night’s lunar eclipse of the moon on youtube, check it out: Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse Sep 27, 2015

Heavenly Eclipse of the Full Moon
Heavenly Eclipse of the Full Moon

As the clouds got in the way I finally called it quits, but I did like how the bright moon appeared so heavenly…as if it was beckoning us.