This is our home!

I have been having a lot of fun taking sky images lately. The newer DSLR cameras (and especially the full-frame cameras) can really push the ISO settings making it easier to take astronomy images with short exposures. The short exposure limits the trails that the stars will make and gives an overall sharper appearance.

This image was shot at ISO 6400, 15s, f/4.0, 28mm focal length. At full zoom, there is only a hint of star trails.

Milky Way Galaxy as seen from northern Arizona.
Milky Way Galaxy as seen from northern Arizona.

The lights along the horizon add interesting texture to the image but even though they were fairly dim the 15s exposure resulted in far too much brightening. After experimenting a bit, I decided to place a credit card in front of the lens blocking the street lights for about 12-13s, then pull it away for the last few seconds. Overall, it did a pretty good job attenuating the street lights but there is also a dark area in the sky just above the lights.

What I should do is get a better neutral density gradient filter that I can slide up and down rather than the screw-on filter that I have now. Then I wouldn’t have to resort to credit card tricks!

Here is another example of what modern DSLR cameras can do. This was taken with the same settings as the image above. Even with a 28-mm wide angle lens, the camera is able to resolve the Andromeda Galaxy which is over 2.5 million light years distant.

Andromeda Galaxy -- our neighbor.
Andromeda Galaxy -- our neighbor.

Hello, world!

Welcome to dblanchard.net/blog

My interests include photography, mountain biking, skiing, trail running, and weather. So that is what I will talk about.

For starters, here is a recent photograph taken mid-evening. Down low on the right is the planet Venus. High up near the top is Mars (reddish orange) next to the star Regulus (blue-white). The streak in the upper left is the still-classified USAF X-37B space plane. It looks a bit like a smaller version of NASA’s Shuttle.

Venus, Mars, Regulus, and USAF X-37B
Venus, Mars, Regulus, and USAF X-37B

Two of my favorite sites for getting information on satellite transits across the sky are SpaceWeather and Heavens-Above.

David