tau Herculids Meteor Shower

There were plenty of caveats associated with the tau Herculids meteor shower. It could be a full-blown meteor storm or it could be a total bust. But there was a third possibility; not a meteor storm but a shower, or maybe a drizzle.

View of the Milky Way and several tau Herculids meteors.
View of the Milky Way and several tau Herculids meteors.
Cropped view of the three brightest tau Herculids meteors.
Cropped view of the three brightest tau Herculids meteors.

Of course I was hoping for the storm but was quite happy with the shower. I had a few ideas of how to shoot this but ended up going with the Keep It Simple concept. I ended up at a viewpoint on the west side of Mormon Lake and aimed the camera at the rising Milky Way.

A review of my images showed that I captured three very bright meteors and another six that were fairly dim. The first image is a composite of those images and shows the entire field of view from the ultra-wide 17mm lens. It has a field of view of 93° x 70°.

The next image is a tight crop of the three brightest meteors that also shows two dim meteors.

Time-lapse video of the three brightest tau Herculids meteors and some persistent smoke trails.

Finally, there is a time-lapse video of the three brightest showing the persistent smoke trails from two meteors.

It was a fun evening.

Edit: Fixed error in the field of view values.

Wave Cloud over the San Francisco Peaks

We had an interesting wave cloud over and downwind of the San Francisco Peaks on Saturday. I first noticed it as I left the house driving to a trail run on Waterline Road in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.

Wave cloud over the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.
Wave cloud over the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.

The view from the parking lot and trailhead was partially obscured by trees but I knew that sections of the Waterline Road had a wide-open view. And, so, I found a view that I really liked with the wave cloud, road, and distant cinder cones.

I shot this as a set of five vertical panoramas on my iPhone. I then imported these into Affinity Photo to create a horizontal panorama (a panorama of panoramas!).  Finally, I used some warp transformation in AP to fix the horizon (i.e.; make it straight instead of curved) and the corners.

Five vertical panorama images used to create the final image.
Five vertical panorama images used to create the final image.

Oh, and the run was fun, too!

Lunar Eclipse and Cathedral Rock

A partially-eclipsed Moon rises behind Cathedral Rock.
A partially-eclipsed Moon rises behind Cathedral Rock.

I have been looking forward to this most recent Lunar eclipse for several months. I have worked up several scenarios to photograph the event, considered renting a larger lens, and more.

And, then, a few days before the event it became evident that it would probably be cloudy. All forecast models indicated increasing clouds moving in from the west. It was pretty obvious that I was not going to be able to capture the event from beginning to end.

That still left one possibility. There would be fewer clouds low in the east early in the eclipse so I might get a few shots of the beginning of the eclipse. So at the insistence of a friend, I joined him at Crescent Moon Picnic area near Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.

The plan was to get a few twilight photos of Cathedral Rock before it got too dark. And then get a photo or two of the Moon as it rose between the spires of Cathedral Rock. The Photographers Ephemeris was used to determine the best spot to see the Moon in the gap.

And then we waited.

Right on time the Moon rose in the gap with the Moon visible from 2002 to about 2012 MST.

The photograph at the top is a blended image of Cathedral Rock at 1938 MST and the partially-eclipsed Moon at 2010 MST. Below are the two images before they were combined.

Individual images used to create the blended image.
Individual images used to create the blended image.

The next two total Lunar eclipses will occur 7–8 November 2022 and 13–14 March 2025.

Moon, Mercury, and Pleiades in the Evening Sky

A few days ago the Moon, Mercury, and the Pleiades were all located close to each other in the evening sky. Although it had been completely cloud free all day, some high clouds moved in right after sunset. I think they add a bit of interest to the otherwise clear sky.

Moon, Mercury, and Pleiades at 2002 MST 02 May 2022.
Moon, Mercury, and Pleiades at 2002 MST 02 May 2022.
Screen shot from Stellarium showing the evening sky plus the field of view from a 70mm lens.
Screen shot from Stellarium showing the evening sky plus the field of view from a 70mm lens.

The image is a composite of a 2-second image of the sky and an 8-second image of the water. It was a breezy evening and the water was roughed up a bit by the wind but the longer exposure helped to smooth out the surface and provide a bit of a reflection of the Moon.

The second image is a screen shot from the Stellarium application showing the positions of these three objects in the evening sky. In addition, Stellarium can project a box showing the field of view of lenses with various focal lengths. In this case, this is the FOV for a 70mm lens. I often use this feature to determine which lens or focal length will give the best framing.

Four Planets and the Crescent Moon in the Morning Sky

There are currently four planets easily visible in the morning sky: Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn. Prevously they had been fairly evenly spaced and in a line sloping upward from the east to southeast. Now, however, Venus is quickly moving lower in the sky towards Jupiter and they will pass by each other in a few days. In the meantime, the crescent Moon joined the planetary quartet this week.

Four planets and the Moon (0453 MST 28 April 2022).
Four planets and the Moon (0453 MST 28 April 2022).
Four planets and the Moon with annotations (0453 MST 28 April 2022).
Four planets and the Moon with annotations (0453 MST 28 April 2022).
Screen shot from Stellarium showing the four planets and the FOV from a 24mm lens.
Screen shot from Stellarium showing the four planets and the FOV from a 24mm lens.

Here is an image from 0453 MST 28 April 2022. The Moon was partially obscured by smoke low on the horizon from western wildfires. Also shown is a screen shot from Stellarium showing the four planets and Moon with an overlay of the field of view from a 24mm lens.