Mercury at Carranza Field
April 16, 2016
April 16, 2016, the planet
Mercury was observed at
Carranza Field in Wharton State Forest, NJ, from 8:02 pm EDT, when it
was spotted in brightish twilight with 10x50 binoculars, then with
unaided eyes a minute later. It was followed with unaided eyes while I
snapped pictures of it until 9:00 pm when reached the treetops. Sunset
was at 7:38 pm, astronomical twilight ended at 9:15 pm and Mercury set
at 9:23 pm. Mercury has now dimmed to magnitude -0.03 per SkyTools,
magnitude -0.2 per USNO's MICA software. This image was captured at 8:46 pm when Mercury was at 6.3°
altitude. Besides Mercury above the trees, two distinctive open star
clusters in the constellation Taurus are present, The dipper-shaped Pleiades (M45) are
above-left of Mercury, while the V-shaped Hyades, with the bright star Aldebaran, are
above left of the Pleiades. Taken with a Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera
(on a fixed tripod) and a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM zoom lens set to
50 mm focal length. It was exposed 2 seconds at f/5, ISO 1000, automatic
white balance. Mouseover for labels.
Here's a closer view at 8:49 pm
Mercury was at 5.8°
altitude. Same camera and lens as before, but set to 105 mm focal
length. It was exposed 2 seconds at f/5, ISO 1250, 3600K color balance.
Mouseover for labels.
Here's a wider view at 9:00 pm
Mercury was at 3.9°
altitude. Same camera and lens as before, but set to 24 mm focal length.
It was exposed 6 seconds at f/5, ISO 1250, 3600K color balance. Besides
Mercury just above the tree tops, the constellation Orion is on the
left, Taurus (with the Hyades and the Pleiades) is at the center, and
Perseus is at the upper right. Carranza Field itself is in the
foreground, illuminated by the
gibbous moon (78% illuminated) high above the left shoulder of the
photographer. The bright area above the trees near Mercury is some
residual twilight plus glow from Philadelphia, PA, 30 miles away, and
the intervening suburbs. Mouseover for labels.
Missed the Moon Occulting Aldebaran
April 10, 2016
April 10, 2016, the crescent moon occulted
(passed over and covered) the star Aldebaran between 6:47 and 7:57 pm
EDT at my location in Maple Shade, NJ. Sunset was at 7:34 pm.
Unfortunately, clouds arrived late in the afternoon and the
disappearance of Aldebaran was not observable. Subsequently, I wasn't
paying close attention to the sky and didn't realize the clouds had
cleared until shortly before
reappearance. By time I got out and set up the camera, Aldebaran
had already emerged from the lower-right trailing limb of the moon. The
pair of stars to the left of the moon are Sigma 1 & 2 Tauri. Here's the
first frame I took at 8:02 pm using automatic exposure and a quick
manual focus. Taken with a Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera (on a fixed
tripod) and a Sigma 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 APO DG lens set to 300 mm focal
length, then cropped to around half of the original size (the field is
about 3.1° wide x 2.3° high). Exposed 1/5 second at f/5.6, ISO 800,
automatic color balance.
April 10, 2016
April 10, 2016, comet
was observed in a clear, moon-free sky from Carranza Field in
Wharton State Forest, NJ. It was a fine sight in 16x70 binoculars, but I
could not spot it with unaided eyes (M13 and IC 4665 were not visible
with unaided eyes either).
This image of 252P was captured at 3:41 am EDT with a Canon EOS 6D
digital SLR camera (on a fixed tripod) and a Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L
macro lens, then cropped to about 75% of the original size, so the field
is about 15° wide x 10° high, almost entirely within the constellation
Ophiuchus (a small corner of Serpens Cauda intrudes below the
Taurus Poniatovii). It was exposed 5 seconds at f/2.8, ISO 12800, 3400K color balance.
has moved 4°
north since last observed near M14 on the
morning of April
6th at Coyle Field (mouseover for labels).
The Crescent Moon and Mercury
April 8, 2016
April 8, 2016, the
Crescent Moon and the planet
Mercury were 7½° apart in
the evening twilight over the western horizon after sunset. This view
was captured from Swede Run in Moorestown, NJ, at 8:23 pm EDT, 51
minutes after sunset when the 3.4% illuminated Moon (36 hr 59 min old)
was about 8° altitude while magnitude -1.0 Mercury was about 5° altitude (mouseover
for labels). Taken with a Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera on a
fixed tripod and a Sigma 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 APO DG zoom lens set to 135
mm focal length. Exposed 0.6 seconds at f/8, ISO 1600, daylight color
the APOD of 15-April-2016 for a similar (but more scenic) picture
taken from Lisbon, Portugal, on the evening of the same date. The motion
of the moon with respect to Mercury over the course of the five-hour
Portugal and the East Coast of the United States is readily apparent
(nominally, the moon moves eastward its own half-degree diameter every hour;
Mercury moved about 22 arc minutes eastward during that time).
Crescent Moon at 8:37 pm
EDT, after Mercury dropped behind the trees. The moon, with prominent
earthshine, is now about 5° altitude. The star 2° above-left of the moon
is Mu Ceti (mouseover for labels). Fainter 31 Arietis is
above-right of the moon (not labeled). The moon itself is in Aries, but
the limb at the lower-left cusp is only a few arc minutes from the
border with Cetus. Taken with a Canon EOS 6D
digital SLR camera on a fixed tripod and a Sigma 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 APO
DG zoom lens set to 300 mm focal length. Exposed 1.6 seconds at f/8, ISO
1600, 3400K color balance.
Observing at Coyle Field
April 5, 2016
Here's a wide angle view
of Coyle Field on
April 5, 2016, at 7:44 pm EDT, 18 minutes after
sunset. It's centered towards the north-northeast and shows my 12.5-inch
dob setup behind my car, left of center. Dan P's 18-inch dob is to the
right at the end of the runway. Taken with a Canon EOS 6D digital SLR
camera and a Sigma 20 mm F/1.4 Art lens, then cropped to a 16:9 ratio.
Exposed 1/30 second at f/2.8, ISO 640.
Click here for more pictures
from that night.
Mercury at Coyle Field
April 3, 2016
April 3, 2016, the planet
was spotted with 16x70 binoculars at 7:49 pm EDT, 25 minutes after
sunset, from Coyle Field in Woodland Township, NJ, when it was at 6.4°
altitude. This picture was taken at 8:07 pm, when Mercury was at 3.1°
altitude, with a Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera on a fixed tripod and a
Canon EF 100 mm, f/2.8L macro lens (then cropped to 44% of its original
size, so the field is nominally 9° wide x 6° high). It was exposed 1/80 second at f/2.8, ISO 12,800 (fully automatic
mode). Magnitude -1.3 Mercury was glimpsed with unaided eyes around 8
pm, and was last sighted with 16x70 binoculars at 8:20 pm as it sank
behind the distant tree tops, 2 minutes before it set.
Mouseover for label.
for some older images.