Night and Morning Sky Shows

Recent good weather provided two viewing opportunities about 8 hours apart. The first was an International Space Station pass over our area on 30 July 2022. The ISS was to appear low in the NW sky at about 9:41 pm, pass overhead at about 65˚ elevation, then disappear into Earth’s shadow low in the SE at about 9:47 pm. I programmed my camera to take a series of images to record the progress across the sky. It was set to record 1-second images of ISO 3200 about 10 seconds apart. I pressed start and the program didn’t do what I expected. So, I did it manually.

The images were placed into iMovie for this video of ISS playing peek-a-boo with some clouds.

The second sky views came at around 5:25 am the next morning on 31 July. I planned to view 5 of the planets. I looked south to easily find Jupiter high in the sky. The Galilean moons were arranged left to right Callisto, Ganymede, Io, and Europa.

Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, Europa

Looking east revealed Venus rising well before the Sun.

The prize for the morning included Mars and Uranus in the same field of view.

Finally, I looked around me to see Earth cast in the morning light to top off the 5 planets.

ISS Pass Segments

The International Space Station passed over my part of the world recently. I like to watch it when the conditions are right. Sometimes, I set up the iPad for a time exposure. This time I recorded the event with a different camera setup. My Canon was on a tripod pointed at the west-northwest sky. Six exposures were made. Each was 15 sec in duration. Each was started 40 sec after the start of the previous one. The first two images were combined with software into this one image. It was a little after 8:08 pm local time. Other objects of interest in the image are Taurus in upper left, Pleiades a little below right from Taurus, Perseus in top center, and Cassiopeia right center.

Looking west-northwest

During the intervening seconds before the third image, I turned the camera on the tripod to face northwest above Cassiopeia. I moved the camera and missed the fourth image.

Looking northwest

Images five and six were with the camera pointing north-northeast toward the Big Dipper. The dipper points to Polaris. The Little Dipper is barely visible.

Looking north-northeast

This was the first time I captured images from nearly horizon-to-horizon by moving the camera during the sequence. If you are viewing by phone or a tablet device, the details in the images might not show. A full-screen desktop view works best.

ISS and More

Evening arrived with very clear sky and mild temperature. It was the last night of winter. The International Space Station was due to pass directly overhead from SW to NE. It would pass near the Moon, Mars, Taurus and Orion. The iPad was set with NightCap app to record for about 3 minutes. After recording the scene, I enjoyed some telescope time.

iPad with NightCap in ISS mode, 171.75 sec exposure

ISS Space Science | 2020

It has been a busy year of research aboard the International Space Station. In November, we celebrated the 20th year of continuous human presence aboard the space station, which so far has hosted 242 people and more than 3,000 science experiments. During the past year, research has ranged from growing radishes in microgravity to capturing 360-degree footage of life aboard station to monitoring our planet. This research benefits people on Earth while helping prepare us to explore farther into space.

More about this story is linked here.

Venus Passes Pleiades

Venus has risen high in the evening sky and is a very bright beautiful sight. During the evenings of April 1 – 5, it passed through the star cluster Pleiades. This short video made with desktop software shows the passage over the course of those nights.

Skies were clear enough for me to get an image on the 1st and the 4th. I did a copy-paste to place Venus in one frame for both dates. At the bottom of the image is the April 1st location. It is surrounded by a haze due to some thin cloud cover.

Exposure was a challenge since Venus was so bright compared to the Pleiades. I zoomed all the way in on Venus and exposed for it alone. That revealed the shape much like that of a waxing or waning moon. The sun’s position is to the lower right of Venus in this frame.

One additional event of interest was on the evening of April 5th. The space station passed overhead and came very close to occulting the star Pollux in the constellation Gemini. High thin clouds made it hard to see the stars. Exposure adjustments of the image helped bring them out.

Taken with NightCap. ISS mode, 90.79 second exposure