Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

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From Sunset to Dusk

The best time to take photos of the sky 🙂 My favorite part of the day.

At dawn and dusk, the sky opposite the sun takes on a pastel pink color that makes a wonderful backdrop for many subjects.

Most photographers agree that the hour surrounding sunrise and sunset is the best time to take pictures due to the unique lighting opportunities. The sky color at the point of the rising or setting sun takes on a gradation of warm tones at the horizon and bleeds into a blue color the higher you look. Approximately twenty minutes before the sun rises and twenty minutes after the sun sets reveals this beauty at its peak. The tones are riveting and compel me to remain fixated on the glow in the sky.

The following are hand-held shots taken last January 15 and 17, 2013 from Quezon City, Philippines using my trusty Canon Powershot SX40 HS.

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Moon and Venus – January 10, 2013

A 6% illuminated waning crescent moon and the planet Venus were in a close conjunction low in the southeast just before sunrise last 10 January 2013.

The waning crescent which looks like a thin “smile” on the sky, tilted a bit to the right. The soft glow on the dark side of the moon is called the Earthshine.

I always love taking pictures of a thin crescent moon, especially when it’s also nearby another bright objects like the planet Venus. It just makes my day complete. 🙂

Clear skies!

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 360,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 7 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013!

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Fireworks display after the 2012 UP Lantern Parade in Diliman, Quezon City.

Sparkling, warm and heartfelt new year wishes for you and your loved ones. Happy New Year, folks! 😀

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Last glimpse of the 2012 Sun featuring 2 sunspot groups – AR 1638 (center) and 1640 (right).

2012 has been a huge year for astronomy observing, with some rare and exciting things that took place including the transit of Venus, occultation of Jupiter, solar and lunar eclipses, planetary conjunctions, and many more.

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This 2013, a new comet is predicted to blaze brilliantly in the skies and is expected to reach naked eye visibility by early November 2013. If Comet ISON lucks out, we could well be raving about the Great Christmas Comet of 2013 by this time next year. Watch out for it!

Comet McNaught Over New Zealand. Credit & Copyright: Minoru Yonet

Comet McNaught Over New Zealand. Credit & Copyright: Minoru Yonet

Last Full Moon of 2012

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Full Christmas Moon or Cold Moon – 28 December 2012. Image taken from Quezon City, Philippines.

The weather has not been good here lately because of typhoon Wukong (local name: Quinta). However, tonight we were fortunate to witness this lovely full moon — the last for the year 2012.

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Image was composed of 2 individual shots that were fused together to create this composite.

According to Space.com the December full moon is also called the ‘long-night’s moon’ given it’s proximity to the northern winter solstice (the time of year when nights are the longest), and thus, tonight’s lunar show will manifest for the longest amount of time in the year. In places like Manila, where moonrise occurs at 5:34 p.m. and sets at 5:55 a.m., tonight’s full moon will be visible for as long as 12 hours and 21 minutes.

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Thank God the weather was more cooperative today. This was truly a nice year-ending lunar treat — a great way to cap a year of amazing sky shows.

Skywatching Treat on Christmas Day

On my way home after attending tonight’s Christmas Day Mass, I saw a faint ring or halo around the Moon. Lunar halos often result when moonlight enters randomly- oriented hexagonal ice crystals in wispy cirrus clouds. Refraction of light produces a 22 degree ring or halo around the Moon. In order for a halo to appear, the Moon must be at least 22 degrees above the horizon. Interestingly, Jupiter was also positioned inside the 22 degree halo on this night near the waxing gibbous moon.

Lunar halos usually indicate that a bad weather is on it’s way. In the Philippines, a new tropical depression is expected to bring heavy rains across central part of the country in the next few days.

Image taken using hand-held Canon Powershot SX40 HS.

Merry Christmas, folks!

 

 

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Seasons greetings!

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Seasons greetings to everyone from around the globe!

May all of you have a joyous celebration with your families and friends! Have a safe and happy holiday season! 🙂

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This greeting card was created in Adobe Photoshop with my image of the Beaver Moon taken last November 28, 2012 featured on the right side. Other clip-art images were found through a Google Image search. No copyright infringement intended.

Lunar Cycle Montage (November-December 2012)

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Click on image to view larger version

 

Before the world ends (just kidding! LOL), here’s my lunar cycle montage 🙂 Wheew. A month’s worth of work.

It’s been said that night photography has long been the realm of the persistent, strong willed…and sleep deprived few. LOL. However, despite being challenging, it is also a very interesting and rewarding venture. With the relatively decent weather last month until early December, I decided to try and capture the moon for as many nights as I could and then create a montage showing the different phases. Trying to catch a full sequence under Philippine skies isn’t the easiest thing to do! Favorable sky conditions may only arise a few times a year so I took this opportunity.

Please take note that no image was taken during December 4, 2012 because of the thick cloud cover during that day. What I did was I used a similar image (having almost the same phase and % illumination) that I took last October 31, 2012 as a replacement to fill the whole cycle.

All individual images were taken using my trusty Canon Powershot SX40 HS superzoom camera. Had to wake up during the wee hours of the night and endure a few mosquito bites only to image each one, especially the waning crescent phases. Haha. But I’m glad I did. Time and patience has paid off. 🙂

November 28, 2012 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

There will be a penumbral lunar eclipse visible in the Philippines on November 28, 2012. Penumbral lunar eclipses occur when the Moon passes through Earth’s penumbral shadow.

Eclipse diagram. Image credit: eclipsegeeks.com

Here are the key times for the lunar eclipse based on information from NASA:

Penumbral eclipse starts – 12:14:58 UT (8:14 p.m. PHT)
Greatest eclipse – 14:33:00 UT (10:33 p.m. PHT)
Penumbral eclipse ends – 16:51:02 UT (12:51 a.m. PHT)

(Note: Philippine time is UT+8)

Unlike partial and total lunar eclipses, penumbral eclipses are not very noticeable. It is because the change of shade to the Moon is so small that hardly any difference can be seen compared to a normal Full Moon. You will not see a chunk on the moon taken out of one side; nor you’ll see the Moon turn red (as it does during a total lunar eclipse) for it will not pass through Earth’s umbral shadow.

The start and end of the eclipse will not be visible to the naked eye and cannot be detected without special equipment, like telescopes and binoculars. In fact, it is only during about 30 minutes before and after the eclipse’s maximum that a light grey shading will be seen along the moon’s northern limb.

The moon during a penumbral eclipse. Image credit: Fred Espenak

Although it is not that spectacular, this event still provides the opportunity to see dimming on the Moon’s surface.  Moreover, it’s also nice to spot the Moon near bright Jupiter and the bright star Aldebaran in the night sky during this event.

Moon near Jupiter and Aldebaran in Taurus – November 28, 2012 (scrrenshot image from Stellarium)

Remember, it is quite safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye. 🙂 Clear skies and happy viewing!

Moon, Mars and Antares – October 18, 2012

A few minutes after sunset last October 18, 2012, two reddish objects were found near the waxing crescent Moon (12% illuminated) in the western sky. These two bright red objects were actually the planet Mars, and the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Mars was about 2 degrees to the upper left from the Moon, and Antares about 4 degrees to the lower left from Mars.

Mars and Antares are often mistaken for each other because of their similarity in appearance. In fact, the name Antares means “Rival of Mars” in Greek.

All photos were taken using Canon Powershot SX40 HS. Some if the images were blurry. My camera got out of focus and i didn’t notice till it was too late! 😦

Click on the images to see larger versions.

The sky was extra clear that night. Amazed by the beauty of the starry night sky, I took my camera out again and snapped this photo while walking home: