Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rain Storm Racing Across The Morning Sky

* Click on the image to see a larger version *

This rainstorm was one of many that dumped rain all night at a rained out star party near Marion, Kansas. The Astronomical Society of Kansas City http://askc.org/ was holding the star party, and while everyone was still sleeping and trying to keep dry in their RV's and tents, I decided to see if I could get some lightning pictures, but instead I saw this incredible scene of waving clouds and a wall of water against the morning sky all racing across the open panorama of Kansas. I turned it into a panorama using two pictures. It was taken in June 29, 2003, with a Nikon Coolpix 995.
This past Summer I sent the image to a contest for the KCTV5 2009 weather calendar and it was chosen for the month of June. When I received a copy of the calendar, I saw that three of the pictures in the calendar were taken by a good friend and great photographer, Dan Bush. His pictures made the front cover, inside cover and the month of December. Dan's images are some of the finest images in the country. Take a look at his website: http://www.missouriskies.org/
If you would like a calendar you can can get one here: http://www.weather-calendar.com/Kansas_City_weather_calendars.html

Monday, November 24, 2008

Planets in Taurus - 2000 and Planets in Sagittarius - 2008

I am putting this image here to show a few things: First, this shows the Plieades star cluster more like what you would see it with our unaided eyes, instead of the long exposure image in the previous post. But even this is a little misleading, because the camera sees a lot more stars than our eyes. Also called the Seven Sisters, most people can only see 6 out of the 7 stars. People with really good eyesight can see up to 10 stars. Go out about an hour after the sun sets and look to the East. How many stars can you see? Then think about how far away they are. One of the closest star clusters to us, it is 440 light years away.
Everytime I see this wonderful cluster it reminds me of a line from a poem by Alfred Tennyson:
"Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid."
The second thing this photo shows is another star cluster. The Hyades star cluster is a much more spread out cluster just East of the Plieades. It's brightest members form a sideways letter "V". The bright red giant star, Aldeberan, is at the end of one of the legs of the "V". Even though the Hyades is the closest star cluster to us (151 light years away), Aldeberan is even closer and not part of the cluster.
Finally, the two bright stars in the photo are really planets, Jupiter and Saturn. The picture was taken in October 2000, so you won't see these planets anywhere near this part of the sky (the constellation Taurus). Jupiter is now in Sagittarius, in the southwest just after sunset. Saturn is now in Leo, and rises in the East about 1 o'clock in the morning.
While you are out looking at the Plieades in the East, turn around and you'll find Jupiter along with brighter Venus. Watch these two planets from day to day getting closer to each other and on December 1, a beautiful crescent Moon will form a wonderful trio right after sunset. With any luck and clear skies I'll have a photo of the event on this blog.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Plieades, also known as the Seven Sisters and M45

This is the latest deep sky image. It is almost 3 hours worth of exposure (34 five minute shots). Taken from the Astronomical Society of Kansas City's "Dark Sky Site", about 75 miles south of downtown Kansas City, MO. (click on image for larger version)

First Post

I've been taking photographs ever since I can remember. My first good camera was a 35mm Canon Pelix which I purchased from a co-worker around 1970. I later bought a Canon F1. I created my own pictures in my basement darkroom and learned the art of manipulating pictures in the darkroom of Hallmark Cards in Kansas City.

In the Fall of 1978 I joined the Astronomical Society of Kansas City and started a whole new hobby combining my love of photography and astronomy. Buying and building several telescopes and using them for taking pictures of the sky has become my lifelong passion. I now have three digital cameras, a Nikon 995, Canon 300D and a Canon 400D and various lenses.

So, what you will find here are pictures of landscapes, skyscapes and people from me trying to capture a moment of time. Feel free to post a comment, but most of all, enjoy.

Tom J Martinez