Monday, November 15, 2010

When Life Casts Lemons...

We had a buddy visit last week and had decided to head west towards Kitt Peak for a little observing and photo session. With my previous 3 visits blustery enough to prevent any telescope imaging (though very clear) I was looking forward to a good imaging session.

But nature had other plans - as we approached the base of the mountain, the thin crescent moon was setting into some thin clouds low in the west, and literally, the minute we stepped out of the van and set up a tripod, the clouds quickly moved in and covered the entire sky.

So what do you do with 3 cameras, tripods and photographers? You look for other shooting options! We headed a couple miles above our regular pullout and I shot a sequence of clouds moving past stars and domes atop the mountain. Shown here are 25 second exposures taken every minute, so 24 minutes of time are shown. Click on the image at left to start the GIF. Interesting how at the very end the clouds almost stop and change direction by nearly 90 degrees... Of course, I should have taken a few more exposures to catch more of the change, but it was cold, windy, and the other photographers were getting restless.

So we headed up the mountain a bit more till we got a view of the city of Tucson. I took a set of 8 pictures with the 200mm that Photoshop stitched together for me. If you click on the image and examine the full-scale shot, you can see some labels I've added. Realize when Kitt Peak National Observatory was founded 50 years ago, Tucson was little more than a cow town of 50,000. Now it is approaching a million, and while there are many more lights, recent research shows that Kitt Peak's night sky has not significantly degraded in the last 20 years. It's lights certainly slap you in the face when viewed from the mountaintop, but Tucson has worked hard in installing shielded lights, keeping the light from going into the sky directly. Shots like this to the contrary, I'm glad the sky is still dark out west of town! 

NOTE:I'm having issues getting the right size displayed so the image can be perused at full scale - I'm working on it!  I had envisioned a pan-and-scan effect to inspect the picture at large scale, but Blogspot evidently doesn't like the mosaic's aspect ratio.  Clicking on the subframes at left should provide larger images to peruse...

With the clouds showing no sign of departing (in fact, it smelled of humidity and rain) we headed back to town, reaching home by 10:30. A long drive, not many stars, but a couple interesting shots regardless!

1 comment:

David A. Harvey said...

Interesting post Dean. I enjoyed your labeled tucson landmarks on the pan.