Category Archives: Photography

No Context For You – November 25th

That’s no moon…

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Filed under Astronomy, Paul, Photography

Venus & Jupiter

As we saw about a week ago, we have a couple of bright planets in our western sky at sunset. Jupiter’s motion is taking it toward the sun from our viewpoint, so it will be heading toward the morning sky in early 2020. But Venus’s motion has it going the other way, heading toward greatest elongation on March 25, 2020. Tonight as their paths converged was their conjunction, or closest approach.

See them there in the sunset, below the wires and above the trees across the street? (Plus Saturn above the wires to their upper left – see comments below about where it’s going.)

They stand out to the eye at sunset, both very bright. Venus is in the lower left, Jupiter in the upper right.

You might have to move around a bit to get a good view between any buildings, trees, or other obstacles on your horizon. If you can get a pair of binoculars, they’ll be amazing looking and you should easily be able to see some of the Galilean moons around Jupiter.

Through the telephoto lens you can lose the perspective with the ground, but you might be able to see Venus as a crescent and detail on Jupiter.

As for those aforementioned Galilean moons, if you take the picture above and click on it to see it full sized, you can see a hint of them being captured. In a line on about a 45° angle, a couple of pixels to the upper left, one on the lower right…

Here’s what it looks like on my monitor.

Here’s the big thing that I’m always repeating at events like these, especially since so much coverage comes from pathetic click-bait run websites – THIS WASN’T AN EVENT THAT ONLY HAPPENED SUNDAY NIGHT!

If you didn’t get to see Jupiter and Venus tonight, go look tomorrow night, or any time the rest of the month, or even into early December! The two planets will be moving further apart from one another from our perspective, but Jupiter will be clearly visible (moving closer and closer to the horizon every day after sunset) until at least December 5th or 7th or even later if you have a clear horizon and dark skies.

Even after that, Venus will be getting higher in the sky every night after sunset until March 25th, and will still be visible through the end of May! Plus, Saturn!

Look at that first picture in this post, the wide angle one – see that dot way up above the phone wires, over to the left a bit from Jupiter and Venus, sort of above the TV antenna on the neighbor’s house? That’s Saturn, trailing behind Jupiter on its way toward our morning sky. It will be passing Venus the week of December 9th, in about two weeks. So watch for a repeat of this sort of spectacle in your evening sky.

Get out there, folks!

These are not things that *BANG!!*, happen, and they’re gone. To be clear, some astronomical events are – eclipses, for example, or occultations where a star, planet, comet, or asteroid disappears behind the moon, planet, or asteroid. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Events related to the planets moving around in the sky drag out over WEEKS! Today might be the closest – but they were close yesterday and they’ll be close tomorrow.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Skylight Moon

One thing about having a big, fancy, east-west aligned skylight in the kitchen is that, when the geometry is right, you can watch the full moon rise through it.

Straight up the slot!!

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Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Photography

No Implied Context For You – The Day After November 19th

So, last night it was late and I was doing a quickie “No Context” post which usually means I go through my iPhone photos and find something vague and/or blurry and/or bizarre and then write a few paragraphs of free association with it.

It’s not supposed to be deep, it’s just supposed to be quick. (Deep would be gravy, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.)

With an image that was various shades of brown and tan and had a bright spot in the upper corner (done, if I recall, by noticing that with the camera on but the camera face down on the desk it made different various gradients and lights depending on the overhead shadows and lighting) my first thought was that I was underwater in a very muddy place with the ray of sunlight to swim up toward to escape. Then, of course, it occurred to me that it might not be muddy water but something more fecal, and that in general was in tune with what’s going on in the world today, particularly in Washington and London, and I went with it.

This might have worried some folks.

It was a metaphor, or possibly a simile or an analogy, or even an allegory. Probably not a similitude.

I’m fine. While there might be days when I’m figuratively drowning in shit (who among us doesn’t in these interesting times?) I am not in any real sense literally drowning in shit.

So, here’s that same image, sprinkled with a few seconds of Photoshop magic, to be much more happier and much more upbeat. (Which is an anthropomorphication which is just as much BS as portraying last night’s as sad and downbeat, but hey, “whetevs” as the kids say. [The kids do not say this.])

Now it’s an algae-filled tank I’m swimming in, but it’s that special new bioengineered algae that’s going to give us unlimited, CO2 free energy while simultaneously sucking the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, pushing the CO2 levels back down below 300 ppm and saving us from climate change. That salvation would be the electronically enhanced, bigger, and brighter future in the upper right.

(DAMN, that’s smarmy!)

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Filed under Art, Paul, Photography

No Context For You – November 19th

Yep. Some days the world is like this.

We recognize that color. We know where it comes from and what it smells like. We’re pretty sure the world looks like this because we’re over our head in it.

But there’s that little bit of light up there. Maybe we’ll move that way and hope that it’s someplace better.


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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography

Bold Lizard

I went out into the back yard (it was about 89°F – sorry to my friends in the sub-freezing climes) and spooked a lizard.

This is one of the “tree Freds” – they’re often found sunning themselves on the side of a large tree just off to the right in this view. I went out for something, Tree Fred felt that caution was in order, and he bolted for the bushes along the fence, seen behind him.

But he stopped to watch me. He was a bold lizard today.

I had time to go in and get my good camera with the telephoto lens and Tree Fred was still waiting.

I took a couple of pictures from across the yard, just after I came out onto the porch, then started slowly walking toward him, a couple steps at a time.

Every time I got closer I expected him to bolt, but he was a Bold Lizard!

I was getting a lot of side eye, and I’m pretty sure he knew that he was much faster than I was. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he could make it into those bushes before I could blink, if he so chose.

I finally got within about five feet of him, then backed off in respect for his ectothermic lifestyle. He had a nice, toasty spot on the sidewalk and who was I to deny him those solar photons? I promised to keep on taking any crickets that I found in the house and releasing them back into his bushes. I’m going to assume he appreciates it.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Planets After Sunset

Once again, serendipity rears its ugly head!

A long day at the hangar meant that I was leaving just after sunset with a crystal clear (windy, dry, high fire danger) sky and a gorgeous sunset.

Not only was the gradient stunning, but so were those two bright planets!

That’s Jupiter on top (leaving the evening sky) and Venus on the bottom (entering it). I knew that Mercury might be seen under the right conditions, but was pretty sure that it had either set by this time or was really close to the horizon in the glare and probably not a naked-eye object.

So I checked.

(Image from StarWalkHD for the iPad)

Yeah, Mercury is last week’s news, already on the other side of the Sun, setting before it does. But…

Saturn’s up? I must have forgotten that.

I don’t see it in the photos above, but then, those photos had had the exposure shortened so they would closely resemble what I saw my eye was seeing. I had started by taking a couple of photos and letting the iPhone expose them, which meant they looked way too bright and the colors were all off. But with a longer exposure, maybe…

Click on the image, blow it up to full sized, then look to the upper left, just like in the StarWalk image.

See it?

How about now?

I would note for the record that, according to that image, Pluto is out there just above and to the left of Saturn. But given that I can’t see it even in a dark sky location with my 8″ telescope, I don’t think the iPhone 8 is pulling that one in.

Maybe I need an iPhone 11 Pro?


Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Photography, Space