Saturday, August 13, 2016

Before The Big Blow!

We happened to see the weather report this evening at 5:30 - there was rain on the other side of the Rincons, and some on the other side of the Catalinas, moving away from us. It had been clear all day and looked to be a clear evening. But just before sunset, there appeared to be some active clouds, so I got out a camera and took some images for a time0lapse clip - here every 6 seconds, and played back at 10/second.  Except for the first cloud taken with a 300mm, all the rest were taken with the Canon 70-200 at various focal lengths. Here is the clip:

Like I said, they appeared REALLY active, and those dark clouds moving in at the end also brought some lightning and distant thunder too! Before the possible storm came in, I thought of trying to shoot the evening planets to the west - what, you didn't know about them? Well, Jupiter is low in the west, but Venus is coming up behind the sun (well past superior conjunction), and Mercury is visible too for a day or two before it dives down to pass in front of the sun (inferior conjunction). I hadn't seen the later two for a while, so walked down the block to avoid some power lines.

Sure enough, they were pretty easily visible. Venus is hard to miss, and Jupiter was about to get eaten by the front of clouds moving in, and finally Mercury was spotted just before the 3 planets were reduced to 2 planets visible. Shown at left is the image I got - click it to load the full-size. For a cheat-sheet, you can click the right hand image with labels to better locate them. Taken with the 70-200 at 70mm with the XSi (APS sensor) with 1 second exposure at F/6.3.

After walking the block back home, I swapped out for the kit lens and went back out to try to shoot the incoming storm. Wow, what a show! Before the rain hit, I shot a number of 15-second exposures from the cul-de-sac towards the Catalinas where lightning looked more numerous. Truth be told, this is a combo of 3 consecutive frames - exciting stuff, but needed to run for cover when the big drops started landing. It dumped a good half inch, so was glad to document the storm coming in. You can't always do astronomy, especially during the monsoon season, but you gotta always try to have fun whatever you do!

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