Earth and Sky in Time Lapse

We live on a planet just the right distance from the Sun. Our survival depends on many critical factors being in delicate harmony. The shallow space we inhabit on Earth bathes all of humanity. Looking up on a clear night, we see through the thin layer of air to the vast expanse of the heavens. The wonders of the night sky can be inspirational.

Too often, we experience forces of evil and destruction. We wonder why. Why do some choose senseless and hurtful ways? These events can shake us to our core.

May you feel renewed and motivated by this video. It highlights some of the beauty of the natural world. Choose positive and good actions each day. Promote peace and understanding.

View in full screen mode for best effect. Time lapse by Terje Sorgjerd. 

Moon’s Far Side | Tycho Crater | Apollo 15

Far Side of the Moon

This image of the Moon is probably not familiar to you. It is the Moon’s far side. Only 24 people have seen it with their own eyes and not as an image. They are the Apollo astronauts. Click on this image for a detailed and closeup view.


NASA | Goddard | Arizona State University


Because the moon is tidally locked (meaning the same side always faces Earth), it was not until 1959 that the far side was first imaged by the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft. Russian names are common for prominent far side features, such as Mare Moscoviense. The widespread smooth maria on the nearside that we see do not appear much on the far side. It is a very different world from what we see from Earth.

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Occultation | Hidden In Broad Daylight

The word occult means different things to various groups. To me, it does not mean supernatural or magical, secret or mysterious, or beyond comprehension. As an amateur astronomer, it means to be hidden from view. For an hour this morning, the Moon passed in front of, and occulted from view, the bright star Aldebaran. The star Aldebaran is the eye of Taurus the Bull, northwest of the constellation Orion.

The Moon occults a lot of stars as it orbits through the heavens. It last occulted Aldebaran on September 4 of this year. What made the occultation today unusual is that it took place in broad daylight just before 9 am CDT. That made it a challenge to see since we don’t think of stars as daytime objects. We in the midwest have been enjoying clear transparent skies the past few days. I set up the telescope for the event. The Moon was high in the blue western sky. My small camera was readied to photograph the occultation through the eyepiece.

I could easily see Aldebaran by eye through the telescope. It was about 3 minutes before occultation. I brought the camera to the eyepiece. This first photograph did not use the zoom on the camera. It was in focus.


I zoomed the camera a little to enlarge the Moon. That improved the view. Later, I cropped and enhanced the image to get this view. No doubt the star was visible.


I waited and watched through the eyepiece to see the moment light from Aldebaran disappeared. That was very cool to see. It didn’t gradually dim. It was suddenly gone.

I set the timer for an hour. It would take the Moon that long to travel in orbit and allow light from Aldebaran to reappear on the other side of the orb. It did so right on time. It is a little hard to see in the crosshairs. Click to embiggen.


This was fun to witness. Clear skies and good optics helped make it work. I hope you enjoyed it.

Lunar Eclipse | Images | Tetrad Part 4

We left central Illinois well before sunset. It was overcast. The prospects for seeing the lunar eclipse were not very good. As we headed northwest toward our home in eastern Iowa, the skies showed signs of improvement. Minutes before the Sun set, it shined brightly through a big opening in the clouds. That was a good sign.

Driving west on I-80, we could see brightness in the east behind the few remaining clouds indicating that the full Moon had risen. We stopped for a driver change. There was the Moon just entering the shadow of the Earth. I periodically rotated the rearview mirror up to take a peek at the eclipsing Moon behind us. Eclipse in progress.

After we unpacked the car, I put my camera on a tripod on the front porch. This first shot showed the Moon about 50% into the umbra. Notice the curve of the Earth’s shadow. It gives a sense of the relative sizes of the Moon and Earth.


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Lunar Eclipse | 27 Sep 2015 | Tetrad Part 4

Previous posts about this tetrad of lunar eclipses can be found by following this link. Visit those links for explanations of the phenomenon if you need them.

Part 4 of this tetrad takes place Sunday evening 27 Sep 2015 for North and South America. First evidence of the partial phase begins at 8:07 pm central daylight time. The total eclipse phase begins about an hour later at 9:11 CDT. Totality lasts a little more than an hour ending at 10:23 CDT.

The timing of this lunar eclipse is very good for viewers in North and South America. It begins when most people are still up. If sky conditions are not overcast, it will put on a show all evening. You do NOT need eye protection.

You don’t have to watch it continuously. Look every 20-30 minutes. You will see the Moon change color and coverage as it transits Earth’s shadow.

8 Oct 2014 | 5:56 am | f/2.8 | ISO 200 | wb daylight | 2 sec | J. Ruebush


This is also a supermoon. It will be about 7% larger than normal because it will be closest to Earth in the slightly non-circular orbit. You will not likely notice it unless you have two photographs to compare such as these.

Regular full moon vs supermoon comparison Source: Karen Roe via

Regular full moon vs supermoon comparison
Source: Karen Roe via


NASA posted this short video to explain what to watch for and when. May your skies be fair.

Chicago 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

In October 1892, the world celebrated the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus. Late in the day on 24 February 1890, Congress in Washington voted to grant Chicago as the site of the great Fair for the United States. The opening of the Fair was scheduled for 1 May 1893.

Much work was needed. The site chosen at 63rd street near the lake on the south side of the city was a wetland. It needed drainage. The lack of firm footings for construction was going to be a problem. The strong personalities of the architects chosen were also a formidable force to be tamed. It was a monumental challenge faced by the city. Many believed it to be an impossible task. Chicago had a reputation as a brash place without the polish of the likes of New York or Philadelphia. Chicago needed to prove to the world it could meet the challenge.

This post is meant as a photographic visit to some of the highlights of the Fair. Links are provided if you want to explore the sources in depth on your own. Records and photos from historical sources give a view of the Fair most people have never seen. You might have heard stories from relatives about a visit to the Fair by some earlier generation. I hope this shows what they saw.


Why the White City?

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Iridium Flares

This morning I captured an Iridium Flare on video. What, you might ask, is that?

There is a constellation of 66 spacecraft orbiting Earth which make up a world-wide satellite phone system. The system provides coverage all over the Earth. The spacecraft look like this. Besides having two solar panels, barely visible in this image, there are three highly reflective rectangular antennae. These antennae communicate with phones on the ground and with other Iridium satellites.

Source: Wikipedia Commons


The antennae are also excellent mirrors which reflect sunlight in orbit. Those reflections sometimes pass over the surface of the Earth as a bright patch of light about 10 km (6.1 mi) wide. If you know when and where to look, the reflections can be seen easily at night and sometimes in broad daylight. They last only a few seconds. They can be many times brighter than Venus or Jupiter. This morning one of the brightest possible reflections, or flares, passed directly over me. I wanted to try recording it on video.

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