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THE SKY

URBAN ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY!

URBAN ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY!: A pre-dawn dance of the planet provided many interesting images from October through January and they could be seen even from light polluted New York City! Going back in time the series below shows the lineup of the five classical planets that were photographed in one sweep of the sky just before sunrise from Central Park. Known since ancient times, these planets span the heavens from Mercury just rising in the east to Venus, Saturn, Mars and finally Jupiter in the southwest. Various iterations of the planets and the moon were seen going back through early January, December and October.

Other January sightings included an occultation of the giant orange star Aldebaran by the moon and Comet Catalina glowing faintly as it raced through the solar system.

Jan. 28, 2016: The five planets with a gibbous moon near Jupiter. Four image panorama.

Jan. 28, 2016: The five planets with a gibbous moon near Jupiter. Four frame panorama spans over 120 degrees from Mercury to Jupiter.

Jan. 25, 2016: First attempt at getting all five planets at the Central Park reservoir. Five image panorama.

Jan. 25, 2016: First attempt at getting all five planets at the Central Park reservoir. Five frame panorama.

 

Jan. 7, 2016: A crescent moon, Saturn and Venus rise above rooftops. A crystal clear atmosphere allows us to see "earthshine" on the unlit portion of the moon.

Jan. 7, 2016: A crescent moon, Saturn and Venus rise above rooftops. A crystal clear atmosphere allows us to see “earthshine” on the unlit portion of the moon.

Jan. 7, 2016: The moon-Saturn-Venus trio rising over Fifth Ave.

Jan. 7, 2016: The moon-Saturn-Venus trio rising over Fifth Ave.

Jan. 7, 2016: A beautiful crescent moon rises between east side buildings.

Jan. 7, 2016: A beautiful crescent moon rises between east side buildings.

Dec. 6, 2015: Three planets and the moon at 4:10 am.

Dec. 6, 2015: Three planets and the moon at 4:10 am.

Oct. 12, 2015: A bright Venus near the top, Mars (diagonally down and left) and Jupiter (below Mars) in the October configuration.

Oct. 12, 2015: A bright Venus near the top, Mars (diagonally down and left) and Jupiter (below Mars) in the October configuration.

Oct. 9, 2015: The planets barely peeking out through clouds join a nice crescent moon.

Oct. 9, 2015: The planets barely peeking out through clouds join a nice crescent moon.

Oct. 8, 2015: The moon and Venus over a very still reservoir.

Oct. 8, 2015: The moon and Venus over a very still reservoir.

Oct. 7, 2015: Three planets shine through thin clouds over Fifth Avenue buildings.

Oct. 7, 2015: Three planets shine through thin clouds over Fifth Avenue buildings.

Jan. 19, 2016: The leading unlit edge of the moon approaches the giant orange star Aldebaran just before the occulation.

Jan. 19, 2016: The leading unlit edge of the moon approaches the giant orange star Aldebaran just before the occulation.

Jan. 2, 2016: The only non-urban scene, Comet Catalina makes an appearance near the giant red star Arcturus around New Years'. From New Paltz.

Jan. 2, 2016: The only non-urban scene, Comet Catalina makes an appearance near the giant red star Arcturus around New Years’. From New Paltz.

 

 

COMET LOVEJOY

Barely visible in  a dark sky, Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) was a pretty impressive photographic subject, its greenish glow and long tail producing startling images. Lovejoy made its appearance in the northern hemisphere in Dec. 2014 and brightened in mid-Jan. 2015 to be easily visible in binoculars and telescopes. I spent Jan. 14-19 shooting the comet in northern New Mexico with fellow amateur astronomer Rush Dudley and his trusty van. Thanks to Ron Moore for hosting us in Taos and for the location tips. Around those dates Lovejoy began sweeping past the Pleiades star cluster, making it easy to spot and making dramatic photos of the pair of celestial objects.

Lovejoy streaks past the Pleiades on Jan. 15.

Lovejoy streaks past the Pleiades on Jan. 15.

A telephoto view of the comet and detail in the tail.

A telephoto view of the comet and detail in the tail.

Two nights later on Jan. 18 the comet's tail almost overlaps the Pleiades.

Three nights later on Jan. 18 the comet’s tail almost overlaps the Pleiades.

A wide view of the winter Milky Way and Lovejoy (at top of frame). The bright star Sirius glows through thin clouds at the bottom.

A wide view of the winter Milky Way and Lovejoy (at top of frame). The bright star Sirius glows through thin clouds at the bottom.

Six days of the Comet: a composite showing the progression of Lovejoy over six nights from Jan. 14 (bottom) to Jan. 19 (top). The Pleiades are seen in the center, Aldebaran on the left.

Six days of the Comet: a composite showing the progression of Lovejoy over six nights from Jan. 14 (bottom) to Jan. 19 (top). The Pleiades are seen in the center, Aldebaran on the left.

 

 

VENUS-MARS-MOON

Looking to the west on the evening of Feb. 20 was the beautiful sight of Venus, Mars and the moon, tightly grouped as they sank towards the horizon. The two-day old crescent moon provided a nice counterpoint to the bright Venus and reddish Mars. This view from Central Park looks over to apartments on the west side of Manhattan on a frigid night. 

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NEW MEXICO MOON

A waxing gibbous moon, the night before full, behind a tree in Grants, New Mexico. April 14, 2014

Full moon, Grant, New Mexico, 2014

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Full moon, Grant, New Mexico, 2014

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Full moon, Grant, New Mexico, 2014

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Full moon, Grant, New Mexico, 2014

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Full moon, Grant, New Mexico, 2014

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Australian Skies

The night sky is incredible over the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Sparsely populated and home to many Aboriginal groups, the area has been open to tourism only in the past few decades. I was able to photograph the southern sky not visible from the northern hemisphere, much more of the Milky Way and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

 

COMET PANSTARRS

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) was discovered in June, 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, on Mount Haleakala in Hawaii. It became visible in the northern hemisphere in early March. After its closest approach to the sun on March 10, PanSTARRS was aligned for two nights with the setting moon. On March 12 and 13 I went to New Mexico to photograph the barely visible comet and a spectacular crescent moon as it set in the twilight each evening.    (Click picture to enlarge)

 

MOON

The earth’s moon in various iterations. (Click picture to enlarge)