Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Astronomical nights arrives

Last night we experienced the first astronomical night here in Östersund, Sweden. Astronomical night is defined as when the geometric center of the sun is 18º or more below the horizon. Astronomical nights is something we astrophotographers want since then we can do really long exposures without the catching any light from the Sun.

September and October is also the high season for shooting the Milky Way. It's high in the sky and stretches over the entire sky from south west to north east around midnight.

Here's a shot I took a week ago when the sky still wasn't completely black. What you're seeing is our own galaxy The Milky Way rising from the horizon, filled with billion of stars, nebula's and interstellar dust blocking the light from distant stars creating these darker areas you're seeing.


























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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Planning and shooting the full moon of August

So, did you see it? Last night's full moon? It was as beautiful as always to see the full moon slowly rise above the horizon. I never get tired of seeing the Moon and Sun rise and set. These events are always a joy to watch and you never know what will happen regarding the light and other optical phenomena. Last night was no exception.

So, this time I had planned a location in forehand to get a shot with the moon above a big residential building called Fagerskrapan about 3 km away. According to my calculations the full moon should be visible around 20:12 - 20:15 Swedish summer time and at 20:14 it popped up right about where I expected it to, about three degrees to the left of Fagerskrapan.

Nikon D800E 1/180 sec, ISO 200, 600mm f/4.0

Then just three minutes later the Moon was closing in on the building and I noticed I had to move a bit to get it closer to the roof of the building. When doing these final adjustments you don't need to move much. Perhaps I moved about 20-30 meters away from my original spot.

Nikon D800E 1/180 sec, ISO 200, 600mm f/4.0


As the Moon got even closer to the building I went from 600 mm to 1,000 mm in focal length to get a more dramatic perspective of the scene.

Nikon D800E 1/90 sec, ISO 400, 1,000mm f/6.7


Now it was all about waiting for the right moment and and keep shooting. At a focal length of 1,000 mm the Moon moves pretty fast over the sky.

Nikon D800E 1/180 sec, ISO 400, 1,000mm f/6.7

One minute later I took this shot when the Moon was connected to Fagerskrapan by the big antenna on the roof. I shot it in portrait mode and have then cropped it to a square format. I like the fact that this antenna are connecting the two objects.

So in all it took the Moon about 6 minutes to make the trip from horizon and to the top of the building. That's not much so if you try to capture a moon or sunrise you need good preparations and planing in forehand.

Finally I realized that I might get a photo of a clock and the Moon exactly when it was at 100% which occurred at 20:38 Swedish summer time. This wasn't something I've planned but I realized it in the last few minutes and I soon realized that from my current location I wasn't able to get that shot, but it would be close.

Nikon D800E 1/125 sec, ISO 400, 1,000mm f/6.7


So this last photo was taken at 20:29 so 9 minutes to early. Had I waited for another 9 minutes the Moon had been long gone from that church tower, close but no cigar. The good side of the is that now I got another shot to do at another full moon :-)


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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Don't miss tonight's full moon

Tonight it's time for another full moon to rise. The full moon of August is sometimes called the Sturgeon Moon. Sturgeon is a large fish that is most easily caught during this month. Another name of the full moon in August is the Full Red Moon because the moon looking reddish when it rises.

Watching a full moon rise is one of my favorite things, it's so majestic to see it slowly move across the sky. So don't forget to go out and watch this full moon rise. Lookup on the Internet when the Moon rises at your location. Bring a pair of binoculars, a camera and a friend or two.

Here's a couple of photos I took of the full moon in July when I was in Gothenburg earlier this summer.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lazy Sunday Aurora

The recent days there has been lot's of activity on the Sun. Sunspot region AR2403 has been putting on a great show with lots of M-classed flares but now it looks like it's decaying. Some of these flares has generated some strong auroras in different parts of the world. This photo is from last Sunday and show some fading aurora. The activity was much higher during daytime here in Sweden.

Now the huge sunspot region AR2403 is slowly turning away from Earth and chances of aurora drops until we get another active region facing us. There are still some chances for aurora the coming days so keep an eye to the north.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

One year in Östersund

During the recent year I've been taking photos over Östersund on a regular basis from the exact same location. This is my biggest and longest project so far. My plan was to take an image every week to get a smooth animation but I didn't quite manage that. The animation consists of 36 photos. During some periods the landscape didn't change much so I've excluded some images to get a better flow of the changes in the landscape. Hope you like it.



Music - "Virtues Inherited Vices Passed On" by Chris Zabriskie

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Aurora season has arrived

Finally the dark nights are back and it's a joy to once again be able to enjoy the night sky. The last few nights we have had some really nice aurora displays. The sky is still a bit to bright but for every day its rapidly getting darker.

This photo was taken last night and shows a beautiful aurora arc with some nice curtains to the left. There's also some purple colors in there but they aren't that prominent when the sky is still pretty blue and not black.

I hope we'll get another great aurora season but the number of aurora displays are expected to drop. It's the Sun's activity (sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections) that causes aurora.

The Sun's activity has a periodic solar cycle of nearly 11 years and in 2014 we passed the latest solar maximum so the solar activity and therefore aurora is expected to drop over the years to come.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Aurora, NLC and a Perseid/Bolide

Me and a couple of friends went out to watch the yearly Perseid meteor shower. After 01:00 Swedish summer time we started to see some faint aurora above some really nice NLC. This is the first aurora I've seen for this season and a new record for me seeing an aurora as early as 13th of August.

In the shot you can also see some Noctilucent clouds and a bright Perseid.

A bright Perseid over some aurora and Noctilucent clouds

Here's a collection of Perseids I captured last night.

Several bright Perseids in this composite image

After a while watching the aurora I started filming the beautiful sky, I turned around and headed back to our campfire and kept filming. Suddenly I saw how the sky turned green in the corner of my eye and I got to see one of the biggest bolide I ever seen and to my luck I got it on this film.

Sorry for the wind noise in the beginning and the bad language in the end :-)



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