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)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Returned from solar power conference, Three photos of the lunar eclipse, full blood red moon with 300mm , waiting for next weeks viewing from Mt Wilson 60-inch

Well, finally back from attending the solar power and electrical energy storage conferences and eager for some astro imaging.  It was great though to get to Portland again, which I remember as a real fun town with a lot of microbreweries and such.  This time however, I was on a diet and sadly, only sampled one local brew the whole four days.  Oh well it was fun hearing about the latest battery electrochemistry and improvements in
large utility scale ( > 20 megawatt power and 80 megawatt hour ) energy storage projects.

When I was working I evaluated many high power storage systems but never quite got the business case right enough to actually do much real work with large battery and flywheel systems.  This time at the conference I was more interested in seeing if these large storage systems were ready to help enable the wider acceptance of and integration of solar and wind power into the electric utility grid network.  Without lower cost energy storage it is becoming difficult for the utility grid to accept ever larger supplies of solar and wind power.  Now that the scientific consensus is that man made greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, is indeed leading to increased global temperatures and consequent environmental damage, the need for more carbon neutral energy sources is needed if temperature increases are to be mitigated.  More research and breakthroughs are needed (in spite of Tesla's recent product launch) to get lower cost electric storage systems so more solar and wind power can be accepted.

Anyway, back at the observatory, the lunar eclipse on Sunday, was a great opportunity to get a little photo session in with the camera and tripod.  The total eclipse started at about 7:11 PDT.  By the time the moon rose above the horizon for us west coast viewers, the eclipse was well under way.  It was just about 7:36 PDT that I could see the moon above the rooftops of buildings next to the observatory.  The first picture taken at that time with 300 mm telephoto and 4 second exposure is shown below. 

Lunar eclipse and blood moon (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Lunar Eclipse and blood Moon (Source: Palmia Observatory)

That picture shows a pretty good blood moon all red and full.

The second photo taken about 7:54 PDT, also with 4 second exposure is attached. 

Lunar Eclipse and Blood Moon as seen from Palmia Observatory
Lunar Eclipse and Blood Moon (Source: Palmia Observatory)

The eclipse is just maybe a little passed total at that time.  To the naked eye, the moon was barely visible, but the 4-second exposure brings out a lot of detail.

 Finally, at about 9:09 PDT, I took my last photo. 

Lunar eclipse as night falls (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Final photo of the lunar eclipse (Source: Palmia Observatory)

You can see how the eclipse is progressing.  This time the exposure was set to 1/2000 seconds because the moon was getting so bright.  Notice how much detail is visible on the moon's surface with this short exposure time and contrast that with the detail visible with the 4-second exposures during the total eclipse.

Our next observing session will probably be October 3 when we have our group session on the 60 inch telescope at Mt. Wilson observatory.  That should be a lot of fun.  We've had this date booked on our calendar since January.  Just to be next to that big scope and have a chance to look through the eyepiece will be fantastic.  Also, they say they have a two inch adapter tube for cameras, so I plan to bring my camera just in case I can get some camera time too.   Boy, I really hope we don't get clouded out after waiting all this time!

Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George

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