Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Free moons course at futurelearn and trying to capture plane in front of moon

Well, still not ready to follow up on getting a picture of Lovejoy.  I did make some progress on taking solar hydrogen alpha pictures though.  I found by reading the telescope manual (drats, yes I went back and did it) that there was a few extra millimeters of play in the draw tube assembly.  I retrieved those 3-4 mm, but it still wasn't enough to get
a better focus.  Then, I found that my T-ring adapter that couples the camera to the scope is just one of several available products.  One of them allows for about 8 mm closer coupling.  This is maybe the last thing needed to get better focus.  The new T-ring is on order from Amazon for about 9 bucks.  Hope it works.

I want to pass on a new, just available free course on the solar system moons.  This course is available on the Internet and based on some feedback from my other senior physics associates it is much easier than the cosmology course, and boy is that course starting to get real hard.  Anyway, if you're interested check out this free course on moons:


Speaking of moons.  I saw this first photo image below in the NYT paper and thought I should try to capture something like that.  I thought I might go to John Wayne airport and try to do the same thing.  Oops, JW runway runs mostly north/south and the full moon now is in the east.  It ain't going to work.  No, I'm not driving to LAX to try this either.

But, I noticed from earlier observatory photo sessions that some of the departure traffic from JWA fly sometimes directly overhead in an easterly direction with azimuth about 91 degrees.  So here is the new photo plan.  Calculate when the mostly full moon will be visible overhead at a 91 degree azimuth heading.  Then since the moon position swings about 6 degrees per hour in azimuth, start observing the moon at azimuth say 85 degrees and wait and hope for an aircraft to pass overhead just at that time to catch a photo of a plane transiting the moon.

The first aircraft passed to the right of the moon by about 5 degrees.  The next one several minutes later passed with just about 1 degree to the right .  The next one, unfortunately passed to the left of the moon.  Darn, the moon had passed by the azimuth where most of the air traffic was going.

But wait, if the plane is about 5000 feet high or maybe even 10000 feet during the pass over the observatory, then if I move about 1000 feet north of my current location then I have another chance to get the aircraft to transit the moon.  Darn, even after the move to the new location, the arrival of aircraft didn't quite align.  One approach, with an aircraft just looking like it touched the edge of the moon, turned out afterward, when I looked the photo, the plane apparently didn't not quite make into the bright moon.

It's now too late in the month to try this again in that the moon keeps rising at higher azimuths and I won't be able to try this moon shot capture until next month. So as a consolation prize, I did capture one image of some clouds passing in front of the moon.

Didn't catch an airplane in front of the moon, only some clouds (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Didn't catch an airplane in front of the moon, only some clouds (Source: Palmia Observatory)

 So until next time. (Check out the moon course if you're interested.)

Resident Astronomer George

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