Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Feathers In The Sky

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A few days ago, the temperature got up to 70 degrees, so Gloria and I went out for some fresh air by walking around the neighborhood. A big change in the weather was expected the next day, so I think these high cirrus clouds blowing out of the West was the start of it. Anyway, these beautiful sky feathers just tickled me into getting their picture.

Railroad Reflection

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I crossed a railroad track and noticed the reflection of the sky on the tracks, so I had to stop to photograph this wonderful play of light and dark. I took a few pics, then luckily a formation of geese added the final element in the composition.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Running Bird

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The astrophoto you see above commonly goes by the name "Running Man", but I always see this as a bird with running legs as outlined below. Actually, it is a huge cloud of dust and gas in the constellation Orion. It is blue because of starlight reflected off the small dust particles, similar to sunlight reflecting off the earth's atmosphere making it blue.
Seeing shapes in clouds is fun, and I'm sure everyone has done this, but did you know there is a name for this. It's called nephelococcygia. It comes from a play written a very long time ago. The play, “The Birds”, was written by a Greek comic poet, Aristophanes, in 414 B.C. The characters in this play are birds. They are looking at the clouds and seeing the different shapes they make. Another character in the play calls them crazy for doing such a thing. So, nephelococcygia literally means “cloud cuckooland”. Now it means to look for changing shapes and transformation in clouds. I found a website for nephelococcygiaites (gosh, is that a word) that is full of great images and information for cloud lovers: http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/
The Running Man (Bird) image was taken on October 30, 2008, with my 10" f/5.5 newtonian (1397mm focal length) and my Canon XTi. Ten images, 5 minutes exposure each, were processed in DeepSkyStacker and Photoshop.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sun, Moon and Venus Pillars

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Beams of light like you see above are created by light shining through millions of ice crystals in the atmosphere. A great website http://www.atoptics.co.uk/halo/platpill.htm explains how this works. The above picture was taken January 5, 2002, six years ago. What reminded me of this picture was another one on Spaceweather.com but instead of sunlight creating the pillar, they were caused by streetlights. The neat thing about these is curved arcs at the top of the pillar. Something new and mysterious: http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?month=01&day=01&year=2009&view=view
Pillars can also be created by moonlight and even the planet Venus. I was looking at some pictures of these when I suddenly realized I had taken some myself and I didn't realize it until now. Take a look at the closeup picture of the Moon and Venus image from my blog of December 24 below. Click on the image to make it larger and you will see small pillars extending both above and below the Moon and Venus. I can't believe I missed these.
I have seen pillars coming off streetlights while driving my car, so be on the lookout for this cool weather phenomenon.