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)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hooray, finally got an image of Mercury after the clouds disappeared; First attempt at astrophotography with IPhone Telephoto Attachment; Fun in Lisboa and Sunrise on the Douro River

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, here we, Resident Astronomer Peggy and I, in Lisbon, for vacation and some remote location observing with the little, teeny, weeny telephoto lens accessory that just clamps on to the IPhone.  But before getting into how that new accessory works, or in this case, didn’t work, let’s report on the successful detection of Mercury, just after sundown.
As discussed in the March 23 post, we have been waiting for the clouds to disappear so that we could get our first image of Mercury, just after sunset and just before Mercury drops below the horizon.  Well, it finally happend as you can see in the DSLR 150mm image below. I used bright Venus as the aim at star.   Venus was bright and easily seen with the naked eye and even though Mercury, at magnitude 2.0, was not naked eye visible, due to the still bright sky just after sunset, was visible in the 4 second camera image shown below. This image was taken just before 8:00 PM and the sun had just barely dipped below the horizon.  At this time, Mercury was just barely 3-4 degrees abocpve the horizon.

DSLR of bright Venus and dim Mercury, below and to the right, 150mm, q4 second exposure at about 8:00 PM
Finally captured Mercury, below and to the right of Venus,  just after sunset with 150mm (Source: Palmia Observatory)

Ok, on that good news, we flew from LAX to Lisbon and did not take any astrophotography equipment other than the standard IPhone and the 20x telephoto lens accessory (see the March 23 post)  that just clamps onto the IPhone.  So my first attempt, just resting the teeny, weeny tripod and telephoto lens on the hotel room window ledge, is shown below.  I could see that Jupiter was up and I wondered if I could see any of the moons using the teeny weeny telephoto lens?  Well, I should have known better, but whenever I pushed the camera shutter button, the tripod/IPhone assembly just sort of vibrated around and all I got of Jupiter is the following image.  Ummm, it is not so good!  I need a remote camera shutter release or something.

using IPhone with telephoto attachment shows Jupiter without remote shutter
First attempt at capturing Jupiter with IPhone telephoto accessory (Source: Palmia Observatory)

Next up, I wondered how the moon would show up in the telephoto lens?  Ok, so I adjusted the telephoto to point at the moon, still looking outside of our Lisbon hotel room.  Now, on this case, the camera movement due t my pressing the IPhone shutter trigger is evident in the image, but it is also apparent that the image is seriously overexposed.

Hmmm, what to do about these issues.  Oh-oh, duh, I forgot about a feature that the IPhone has, which is the shutter release delay function.  This function delays the activation of the shutter, so, for
Moon with IPhone telephoto attachment without exposure control
First attempt to capture bright moon with IPhone telephoto accessory (Source: Palmia Observatory)
 example the photographer can also move into the camera frame before the shutter is snapped.  Darn!  If I had remembered about this function, I could have removed some of the camera jitter.  Oh well,this is a good lesson learned for the next time I try to use this teeny ween telephoto and tripod! The second problem is to get some advanced camera control app that allows for faster shutter response to bright objects like the moon.

Ok, that will have to come later.  In the meantime, we are having fun enjoying all the sights in Lisboa.  For instance, we met up with other Orange County Astronomers, Science Nerds and Theatre Impresarios, Scott and Sandy, and along with Resident Astronomer Peggy, we took in some culture by attending a free Fado concert at rhe Museum of Fado.  Yes, amateur astronomers and physicist wannabe enjoy some cultural events too, especially if they serve wine, which they did!

enjoying a free Fado concert at the museum
Getting some history and culture at the Fado Museum in Portugal

Afterwards, having walked for several miles along the streets of Lisbon, we considered other arrangements back to our hotel.  Look at this image of some adventurous tourists on some uni-wheel machines, similar to Segways, but with a built in seat, so the rider gets to sit down rather than just stand up.  Well, this didn’t appear to be the easy way back to the hotel, but the motorized Tuk-tuk looked like a convenient way to go.

Some adventurous person on electric uniwheels with seats and here comes our Tuk-tuk
Busy street traffic in Lisboa (Source: Palmia Observatory)

So, here we are, all jammed in the Tuk-tuk, having fun and on the way back to our hotel.

Orange County Astronomers just barely fit in Tuk-tuk
OC Astronomers having fun in Tuk-tuk in Lisboa (Source: Palmia Observatory)

So from our Lisbon hotel we travelled up to Porto to join the rest of our river cruise travelers.  The next morning we woke up in time for sunrise and we we were greeted with this sunrise view outside our stateroom veranda.  I’m still looking for the right kind of IPhone app to see if I can get better exposure control for astrophotography with my easy to carry IPhone teeny weeny tripod!

Sunrise on the Douro River
Sunrise on the Douro River from our river cruise ship, Torgil (Source: Palmia Observatory

Ok, that is about it for this post. I don’t have a PC with me, so I have to do all of this editing on my IPad, which doesn’t have the same easy to use tools that the PC does, so I hope the text makes sense.

Until next time,

Resident Astronomer George

If you are interested in Astrophysics or Cosmology
Check out the rest of the blog postings at: www.palmiaobservatory.com

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