The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Moon Dogs In Tucson

Last night I got home and noticed a couple of Moon dogs in the sky so I ran in and got my camera. Fortunately, I was fast enough and they were still there.

Moon dogs are the same phenomena as the more common Sun dogs. Moon dogs are more rare since the Moon just isn’t as bright and you need a fairly full Moon to get them. They are usually dimmer than Sun dogs and usually appear white. In the pics I took, the exposure was long enough to see a little color.

It was nice to finally photograph Moon dogs!


September 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A View of the Lunar Eclipse From Tucson

Just wanted to post some pics from last night. Amazing how many more people come out when the eclipse is in the early evening instead of 2am!

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September 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Perseid in Hawaii

I went up Haleakala last night to watch the Perseids. Good show…stayed up way too late. Here is a pic, but I have a LOT more to go through!


August 13, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Crescent Moon, Mars and Mercury

Mercury is starting to climb up in the western sky for a pretty good appearance and tonight the crescent Moon joined Mars in the vicinity. I managed to get a few shots. I expected Mercury to be difficult to see low in the sky, but it was much easier to find than the higher Mars. In these shots, Mars is to the the right and just below the Moon. Mercury is below Mars and just a little to the right. There are a couple of planes drifting through this part of the sky so don’t be fooled by them!


April 20, 2015 Posted by | Astrophotography, Mars, Mercury, Moon, Pretty Pictures | Leave a comment

April 4th Lunar Eclipse

A few days late but wanted to post my pics from the April 4th lunar eclipse. I was traveling and spending Easter weekend in Las Vegas. Even though it’s one of the brightest cities in the world, a lunar eclipse punches through no problem. I was staying at the Luxor hotel so I had their Sphinx and pyramid to use for backdrops.

Not many people up at that time of the morning…just a few people trickling back to their hotels. Managed to get a few of them to look up as they wondered what I was photographing at that hour…a few of them even got excited about seeing the eclipse!

So here are the pics…some close up, some wide shots. I had to keep moving as the Moon set behind the pyramid. Eventually I found a palm tree to use as a foreground object. Click any photo to embiggen.

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There has been a lot of discussion about whether this was a true total (but very short) lunar eclipse or just a very deep partial eclipse. Just my personal observations, it sure was borderline. I was never totally convinced there was true totality during those brief five minutes. It is very hard to be 100% sure unless the Moon is well inside Earth’s shadow.

Well, I can think of one way to be sure…that would be an observer on the Moon who could see if Earth covered the Sun…can’t wait until we get a person on the Moon during a lunar eclipse…those will be some photos!

April 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jupiter and the Full Moon and a Quick Timelapse

Jupiter rose near the full Moon last night so I thought I would post a pic from my place in Tucson.


Last night, I made a quick timelapse from some shots I took at Kitt Peak a couple of weeks ago with a Lensbaby 5.8mm fisheye lens. I wish I had let it go longer since I like what I got…I really need to get a second camera so I feel better about tying one up all night!

February 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Come Lovejoy From Kitt Peak

I was on Kitt Peak last night and had some time to shoot Comet Lovejoy. It was great to get out to a real dark site and give it a shot. Here are some of my pics.

First, a closeup.


Now zoomed out to see it next to the Pleiades.


Now zoomed WAY out! Note the Zodiacal light on the right arching upward and the winter Milky Way on the left. The Pleiades and the Comet are at the top of the shot.


Next I played with a new fisheye lens I recently bought. Here is a full sky view of Kitt Peak outside the Visitor Center Telescope.


Finally, I stayed up late to get the comet as it was setting. Here it is above a telescope on Kitt Peak.


Great night and abnormally warm for January on Kitt Peak. Upcoming schedule will make it hard to get more pics for me before the Moon comes back…get out there and see it soon!

January 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Quick Comet Lovejoy Pics

Finally back from a long trip…clouds in Seattle and Florida kept me from getting good opportunities to see and photograph Comet Lovejoy (I saw it from Florida, but the light pollution kept me from getting great pics). Back in Tucson and got some tonight. Here they are…all with a Canon 60D on an iOptron Skytracker. Various exposure times and focal lengths.

IMG_7214 IMG_7225 IMG_7228 IMG_7229 IMG_7231

I also was visited by some javelinas tonight. Had my thermal camera with me.

Taken with SM-N900T, Android 4.4.2

I also

January 19, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Colorful Sunset Animation

I like photographing green flashes at sunset. Tonight’s sunset was particularly rich for a couple of reasons. The Sun set behind  a particularly nice set of mountains resulting in a long series of green flashes with occasional hints of blue and purple. I set my camera to burst mode and took 65 frames. Since my camera takes about 5 frames per second, this corresponds to a little under 11 seconds of video. I animated them all so you can watch it roughly in real time. Sorry for the slight camera shake…the battery in my remote shutter release died so I had to push the shutter release by hand!

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | Leave a comment

More On Comet Lovejoy

I went out again last night (Saturday, December 27th) and did some more with Comet Lovejoy. I was out a little later so the Moon was very low and even set while I was observing. The comet was again an easy naked eye object and very nice through 8×42 binoculars. I set up my trusty Canon 60D and iOptron Skytracker to take some more photos.

I took a bunch of 30 second exposures…hope to go back and stack them. Anyway, I just want to post this one since a plane flew right by the comet during one of them and I thought that was kind of fun.


Here is a longer 120 second exposure that brings out the tail. The small globular cluster M79 is to the upper right of the comet.

IMG_6899Finally, I put the 35mm lens on my camera and did a 30 second exposure so you can see where the comet is in the bigger picture.

IMG_6925I went out tonight just outside my townhome (not to Saguaro National Park). The Moon is brighter and I have more light pollution here. I was not able to pic out the comet naked eye from here but it was easy in binoculars. Comets are notoriously fickle but it is forecast to brighten in the couple of weeks and I hope it gets to naked eye visibility from here. It is also climbing higher in the sky which should help, especially for those farther north (it tops out around 30 degrees above the horizon in Tucson right now, take one degree off that for every degree farther north you are!)

For better and for worse, I travel a lot the next couple of weeks and am trying to figure out how much equipment I can take with me to keep track of this comet on my trip!



December 29, 2014 Posted by | Astrophotography, Comet Lovejoy | 2 Comments


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