Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Green sky as seen from inside of a green

Here's a photo I took back in October this year. It's a sky filled with bright Northern Lights as seen from inside of a golf hole on a green. A green sky as seen from inside of a green.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hiking for the full moon

Today I went hiking with my family in a beautiful mountain area here in Jämtland, Sweden. We had a great time and the views got was really amazing now when the mountain tops are snow covered.

Later during the afternoon it was time for the full moon to rise. My wife and my two kids got to model while watching the moon rise above the horizon. I planned the shot during the day and everything look great for the evening. Just an hour before the Moon was about to rise, the clouds started to move in from west and the sky was quickly covered.

I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to do the shot but as you can see the sky was clear to the east just enough for the full moon to be visible. The moon is somewhat deformed in the lower half, that's due to atmospheric refraction.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

What a night and what a beautiful eclipse!

I've seen a couple of total lunar eclipses before but this is the most beautiful one so far. I went 250 km east of Östersund where the weather forecast looked much better and I did get clear skies throughout the entire night.

Here are a couple of photos of the eclipse, I will probably update this post with more photos later on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse

We're closing in on one of the astronomical highlights of this year. Early in the morning on the 28th of September we will be able to see a total lunar eclipse (Swedish summer time). Totality starts at 04:10 and ends at 05:28. The partial eclipse starts at 03:06 and ends at 06:28 so it will be a long night for all you eclipse chasers.

This years eclipse is a bit special since it occurs during a so called supermoon. A supermoon is when the full moon coincides with its closest approach to the Earth.

This is a collage of a total lunar eclipse I photographed on the 28th of October back in 2004. It shows the partial eclipse growing into a total lunar eclipse. This eclipse also occurred early in the morning here in Sweden, these photos was taken between 04:00 and 05:00.

So let us hope for clear skies on the morning of the 28th of September. What better way to start a week than with a total lunar eclipse :-)

Friday, September 11, 2015

The size of the Andromeda Galaxy

It was quite some time since I photographed the Andromeda galaxy so last night I had another go at it. For this photo I used a total exposure time of 75 minutes to bring out the details in the galaxy.

It is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way with a distance of 2.5 million light-years. Just stop and think for that a minute, the light has traveled 2.5 million years before it arrived to Earth. Since the speed of light is ~300 000 km per second, we can quite easily come to the conclusion that the Andromeda galaxy is extremely far away.

But, since it at the same time is extremely big, its size in the sky is as big as 6 full moons placed next to each other.

In this photo I took last night I've included the size of the Moon as it appears in the sky, just so that you can get an idea on how big the Andromeda galaxy really is in the sky. Since the light from the galaxy also is very faint due to the long distance, we can just barley see the galaxy with the naked eye. But if we could see it in its full glory, this is how big it would look compared to the Moon. Quite a view.

Nikon D810A, Nikon AF-S 300mm/f2.8, 75 minute exposure, ISO 1600

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Aurora road

The aurora season continues to deliver amazing auroras. A few nights ago we had another fantastic show with lots of activity both along the horizon and with a beautiful corona. Here is one shot taken when the aurora was very active and colorful.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Beneath the Milky Way

This weekend I was visiting one of my neighbors at their summer house. It's located in a really remote location with a wonderful dark sky. During the weekend I captured this image of their house beneath the Milky Way.

It's quite amazing to think that this little house is circling around in a giant galaxy filled with billions of stars.

Nikon D810A, ISO 6400, 30 sec. 14 mm f/2.8

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flaming Aurora

On the 26th of August in 2015 there was a fantastic Aurora display over great parts of the northern hemisphere.

Here in Östersund, Sweden, we got some really nice northern lights throughout the night. This was one of the most flaming and pulsating auroras I've seen. For several minutes I just lay on the ground watching the corona shift color and shape very rapidly. The real time footage you see of the corona in this video is a good representation of what I saw.

Sit back and enjoy 3 minutes of aurora magic.

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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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Perseid meteor shower 2015

Tomorrow it's time for one of the best yearly meteor showers, the Perseid meteor shower. The best time to view the Perseids is when the sky is the darkest and it's best to look at the darkest area of the sky. Another tip is to lay on you back so you can comfortable can see the entire sky. Bring a sleeping pad and warm clothes.

Since the moon is new on August 14, it's perfect conditions for watching the meteor shower with a really dark sky. The Perseid meteor shower has a zenith hourly rate (ZHR) of around 100, that's 100 meteors per hour.

Here's a shot from 2013 showing a bright Perseid.As you can see, lying on the ground is a great way to spot meteors.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Planning and shooting a sunset

I never get tired of watching a sunrise, sunset, moonrise or moonset. All these events are always beautiful to watch and it's also very exciting because you never know what might happen regarding light and atmospheric phenomena.

Last Sunday the weather was looking good for the evening and I had looked up a location that would give me a nice foreground, in this case a large building. I think planning your shot is half the fun and that's something I really enjoy doing. When planning my shot I usually use Google Maps and tools like The Photographer's Ephemeris. Other useful tools are planetarium software like Stellarium 

Always be careful when shooting the Sun since its so bright, you could damage your eyes. Never look straight into the Sun through your camera. Regarding filters, this sunset was quite cloudy so I didn't need any filters, otherwise you could use a ND-filter to dim the Sun.

As soon as I arrive on the location I've planned, I start by checking the surroundings to see what I can work with regarding foregrounds etc. I also double check that I'm in a spot where the Sun or the Moon will pass behind the planed distant object. Then I usually start off by taking some wide angle shots while the Sun is above the horizon and I got some really nice a warm light.

Here's a shot showing lake Storsjön and you can see the building to the right of the Sun. Above the Sun you can see a faint Sun pillar.

Nikon D810A, 1/250 sec. ISO 200, 70 mm f/8

As the Sun gets closer to the horizon I switch to a longer focal length to really get up close with the Sun. In this case I was shooting at a focal length of 1,200 mm. Quite extreme but in that way you get a much more dramatic scene. The building was located 13 km away from me at the time.

Nikon D810A, 1/2000 sec. ISO 400, 1200 mm f/11

In the shot above you can see two sunspots on the solar disc. Both these sunspots are about the same size as the Earth's diameter. As you can see the clouds can sometimes work with you adding a lot of drama to the scene. The sky above the Sun looks much better with this thin layer of clouds that it would have done without them. But I would have preferred not having the lower thicker clouds to get a cleaner solar disc, but they also adds a bit of drama.

Later on the Sun passed behind the building as planned.

Nikon D810A, 1/500 sec. ISO 400, 1200 mm f/11

The image above is a panoramic image of three shots. I did that to get the reflections of the Sun in the water. You should always be alert to whats happening in the scene regarding light, reflections or shadows. For just a brief moment there could be something that you don't want to miss.

So, how close will you get with a focal length of 1,200 mm? Here's a 100% crop from a photo I took later on.

Nikon D810A, 1/500 sec. ISO 400, 1200 mm f/8

As you can see a really long focal length can create some dramatic shots but it's also really hard to get sharp shots. When you enlarge a scene using a longer focal length, you also enlarge all the errors. So if you have lots of turbulence in the air you will have a hard time getting a sharp image. In this case I was shooting over water and that usually gives a much sharper image due to stable air.

So, keep shooting those sunsets, it's not cliche, it's so much fun and excitement.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Back in northern Sweden

I've been traveling in the south of Sweden for almost 4 weeks and now I'm finally back in Östersund. I had a great time and got to see some starry night skies again. Here in the north we still can't see any stars but it won't be long now. Here are a couple of images from my trip.

Sunset in Blekinge
Night in the forest in Småland
Sunset in Malmö
Moonset in Malmö
Jupiter and Venus conjunction in Denmark
Moonrise over Gothenburg

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game

This weekend it's time for the Northern Sweden X-Wing Regional Championship in the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game. My contribution to this contest was to deliver background images for the game boards, a mix of photos I've taken over the years. As a boardgamer and space geek my selves it was a perfect match to deliver these background images to this contest.

May the force be with you!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nikon D810A Review

Nikon just got star struck with the new D810A. As a long time Nikon photographer working as a professional photographer with a passion for astrophotography, I was really excited when this new camera was announced in February this year. Could it be the answer to all my dreams?

Recently I’ve been testing the new Nikon D810A camera, Nikon's first DSLR dedicated to long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography. I was contacted by Nikon Nordic and asked if I could test the new camera and give my thoughts on it.

The new D810A has a specialized image sensor that is four times more sensitive to H-alpha red tones than an ordinary DSLR. Due to this sensitivity in red light, Nikon says it’s not suitable for general photography since this could give you some reddish looking photos. When doing astrophotography you want this sensitivity in H-alpha so you can capture more data/colors in nebula.

Nikon D810A

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Backlit photos

I just delivered 15 photos to the new Quality Hotel in Östersund, Sweden. The images are mounted on 1.5 x 1 meters large backlit frames. Really cool to see the night sky lit up.

Are you interested in similar solutions, please contact me at info@astrofotografen.se

Monday, April 27, 2015

Earth to Moon solar filament

Here's a photo I took of the Sun today showing one huge filament stretching over the surface of the Sun. I've included a scale sized Earth and Moon and the distance between them and as you can see, the filament is just about the same length as the distance from Earth to the Moon. Otherwise the Sun was quite calm but this filament was very impressive through my solar telescope.

Edit: Today April 30, this photo is featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day at NASA.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Beautiful solar halo

This is a solar halo I captured a couple of weeks ago. Above the circular 22° halo you can see a wave like halo that's called a upper tangent arc. Running through the center of the Sun is a thin line called a Parhelic circle. That circle is always on the same height as the Sun and can be visible in a complete 360° circle in the sky. Just outside the 22° halo you can see two Parhelic sundogs.

It's tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere that create halos by refracting and reflecting light.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Pink Aurora and the Milky Way

Lets celebrate the weekend with some pink and green aurora together with our galaxy the Milky Way, our neighboring galaxy Andromeda (Disc shaped object close to center), planet Venus (Bright dot to the left) and a satellite (Bright streak).

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Get started with nightscape photography

I often get questions on how I take my photos and how one can get started taking similar photos of the night sky. I thought it might be a good idea to write up an article or two on how to get started in what’s called nightscape photography. What’s nightscape photography you might ask? It a photo genre where you combine a landscape foreground with a night sky scene, some use the name starscapes.

In this article I will share some of my experiences and give you some tips on how to get started in nightscape photography. I will focus on nightscape photography, I won't talk about deep sky photography since this requires some sort of tracking device for the camera to eliminate star trails due to Earth's rotation.

A camera and a tripod is pretty much all you need
to get started with nightscape photography.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I will miss the night

In a couple of days the astronomical nights will end here in Östersund, Sweden. It is always with mixed emotions I see the nights gets shorter and brighter. One part of me will miss the stars and the auroras, but another part of me really loves the bright summer nights.

Last night I was out on the ice of lake Storsjön and it was a fantastic night. No wind at all and a couple of degrees Celsius below zero. There was a faint aurora to the north just below the Milky Way and to the north west I could see planet Venus below the Pleiades.

I will really miss nights like this until they return in early September.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lunar Eclipse Service

Later today there will be a total lunar eclipse visible from the Americas, the Pacific Ocean, Australia, New Zealand and eastern parts of Asia. By the time the moon is visible here in central Europe, the eclipse will be over.

Yesterday I found the moon while it was being prepared for the upcoming eclipse.

Later this year, on the 28th of September, there will be another lunar eclipse that will be visible from eastern half of North America to western part of Europe.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sun and Moon halo on the same day

Yesterday we had excellent halo conditions here over Östersund, Sweden. During the day I took a photo of the 22° solar halo. And later that night, 10 hours later, when the Moon was in the same position in the sky, I took another shot of a 22° Moon halo taken from the same position. It's quite interesting to see these two halos side by side.

The image below shows the two images merged together. This image was featured as Astronomy Photo Of the Day at NASA

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, did an article explaining the this photo and phenomena more in detail, you can read it here. The photo also appeared on Gizmodo and Peta Pixel.

Sun halo left and Moon halo right

Here are the two shots separately. The photos were taken 10 hours apart.

Sun halo taken 10:21 (UTC standard time)

Moon halo taken 20:30 (UTC standard time)