For months I’ve been waiting for my astronomy gear to arrive from Sweden. I packed everything last summer in 2016 and didn’t get to access my telescopes until January this year. Last weekend we decided to visit our family member who lives in Redding which is a small town near Shasta lake divided by the Sacramento river. He lives in a beautiful place close to nature so we didn’t hesitate for a second to load the trunk with my astronomy gear. It takes around 3 hours to travel from Sacramento to Redding, which is fairly far away from the town to spend time with family.
Saturday evening we went to Whiskeytown Lake and met members from Shasta’s Astronomy Club. A nice bunch of people who took their time to introduce themselves and tell us stories on how often they gather around every week to observe the beauty of the night sky in that area. I was impressed by their telescopes and knowledge and was happy to be among other fellow astronomy enthusiasts, exchanging knowledge about the night sky.
We had a good time with the kids and got to observe Jupiter with its moons, Leo’s triplet and the moon. We will definitely be visiting Redding again, maybe without the kids so we can stay much longer!
Below is the world’s largest sun dial at Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Thank you Shasta astronomy friends!
So begin planning 2017 for one of the rarest life events witnessing a total solar eclipse. Solar eclipses aren’t that rare but are truly hard to access all the times. Consider for a moment that 3 of 4 parts on the earth’s surface is covered by water, leaving only 1/4 for us to wander about.
Now consider also that not every surface on land is accessible. Either for geopolitical reasons (raging wars, corrupted regimes, etc.), but also for natural reasons such as thick impenetrable forests, high rocky mountains, wildlife, deserts, and so forth.
Considering even that not all human beings are able to travel or can afford long trips but also add on top of that the event might occur on a weird corner of a country where flight prices would cost your entire annual income (I have friends who actually took a military plane down to south pole and landed on ice for some years ago).
On top of that we need to consider the weather with unpredictable forecasts and clouds.
So summing all that up, it truly makes solar eclipses one of its kind and a life event for many of us!
The total solar eclipse will happen in August 21st of 2017. The time-and-date and the national eclipse websites include many details (see at the bottom of this blog post for links), offering also a list of places on where to actually observe the totality of the eclipse. Since this event will happen from west to east, I believe that many fellow Americans and also Europeans who are able to travel, experience this!
As the time comes closer, I’m going to provide much more detailed information, distinguish partial with total solar eclipses and their differences, write about safety precautions on how to safely observe and also talk more about the historical importance of solar eclipses throughout the human history.
- The National Eclipse website (A lot of information and a web shop for eclipse glasses)
- For more information click right here.
- NASA page for solar eclipse click here.
- Interactive Google Map with lots of information by Xavier M. Jubier here.
So it was time to head out of the apartment and head for my spot to take a nice shot of the supermoon. I sneaked out as quietly as I could and try to avoid waking up my wife and our baby sleeping still heavily. I left around 4:30 AM and started driving towards the TRACON area (TRACON is responsible for air traffic control for the whole West of US). Once I arrived I turned in their parking lot, but a security guard approached me letting me know I wasn’t allowed to park there but they were kind enough to advice me to park across the street. I thanked them and also asked them if they knew about the supermoon showing up this morning and their response was “Yeah! We’ve been watching it all night”. I left shortly after our short conversation looking at the security guards gazing high up in the night sky all in awe about the brightens of this beautiful full moon.
I couldn’t center the statue I had in mind (a statue of army pilots pointing towards the sky. I thought it would have been awesome to put the moon at their finger tips but that plan and angle didn’t work all too well because of the tree line in the way) and so I changed quickly plans and had the Californian state flag and US flag poles centered in the middle. Fortunately from that angle the trees weren’t in my way.
And here we go, supermoon in all its glory
For you who have missed this event, there’s one more chance the 13th of December. I’ll be back about it and might make a new try again for my perfect shot.
So it’s time in a few hours to witness the super moon from the Californian morning sky. I found a nice monument that will be integrated into the same shot and hopefully everything will go as planned. Tonight the moon looked so beautiful as always.
One of the most amazing things about California, are the infamous sunsets. The stratocumulus clouds are shattered across the horizon but still merged reminding us the potential rainfall on its way, as the twilight spreads in the upper atmosphere dominating the evening sky with red, orange, pink and yellow palette of colors. A magnificent view to say the least!
As I am gazing at the evening and night skies I can’t wait for my equipment to be transferred to the states from Sweden very soon. The need to be out in the nature and taking photos at the deep sky grows bigger for every day.
The 14th of November this year the moon’s perigee position and phase (full moon) will offer all the observers a spectacular show. It will appear the biggest in 70 years. So to all my California friends, go up this early morning around 5 AM and take photos. I will try and see if I can find a nice recognizable monument in Sacramento (maybe the tower bridge).
The moon will be already descending towards the West and its declination or angle close to the horizon will cause the moon to appear larger than its actual size. It is actually worthy witnessing this beautiful event, as it will not happen again for another 70 years. There is however one more chance during next full moon in December (12/13/2016) if you happen to miss it. In December you’ll have to look out even for the Geminids Meteor showers, however do not make many hopes as the full moon brightness will make it harder discovering them.
In order to take a nice photo of this event you’ll need to stand far away from an object/monument or building of your choice and use a telescope or a telephoto lens that will magnify enough the size of the moon while keeping your object in focus.
While moving away from that object will reduce its size due to the distance from it, use your telephoto lens to magnify it. That is how you accomplish these images like in the example below (a large moon and a recognizable building/object next or right in front of it).
Unfortunately cell phone cameras will not be able to take any good images as these get worse by using zooming/image enlargement and also over exposed (bright sphere with unrecognizable features). Unless of course you are able to control shutter speeds and ISO values (such as in some Microsoft/Windows phones). For this image you’ll need a tripod and a DSRL/SRL camera with telescope lens to accommodate your needs properly.
- Stellarium – Star chart program completely free and available for all platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS)
- Original example image below from National Geographic
Click on the mosaic below for larger images:
So I’m soon done with the visa process while enjoying a wonderful summer in Sacramento, CA with Melissa, little Vanita and waiting soon for our daughter to be born. Right now life is good. We’re starting anew, with exciting opportunities in all areas of life.
While Melissa was enjoying a movie at the theater with her friends, I managed to assemble together my camera and lenses to go out and shoot a few pictures on the moon. I really love the crescent moon as the shadows illuminate the crates in higher contrast then a full moon does.
Here are the results