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The Moon and Jupiter
January 27, 2016

 On January 27, 2016, Jupiter and the 84% illuminated moon were 3░ 17' apart (about six moon diameters from the lunar limb) when this picture was taken at 11:32 pm EST with a Canon 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. Exposed 1/800 second at f/8, ISO 1600, with daylight color balance. Cropped to three-quarters of the original frame size (to ≈3.4░ x 5.0░).



The Moon, One Day Past Full
January 24, 2016

This is a test shot taken from my home in Maple Shade, NJ, at 8:06 pm EST on January 24, 2016, when the moon was 23 hr 20 min past full, but still 98.9% illuminated. Canon 6D digital SLR camera on a fixed tripod with a relatively inexpensive Sigma 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 APO DG lens set to 300 mm focal length. Exposed 1/1000 second at f/8, ISO 400, daylight color balance. Cropped to about 23% of the original frame size (to ≈1.5░ x 1.0░). The lens' performance was satisfactory since the moon came out reasonably sharp and detailed. Besides cropping and a slight adjustment to the color balance, no processing was applied (to maintain a natural appearance vs. the frequently seen lunar images with excessively high contrast).


 This is another test shot of the moon. Taken at 7:52 pm EST on January 24th, shortly before the previous image. It's a wide-angle view (full frame, 84░ x 62░) with the Canon 6D digital SLR camera on a fixed tripod and a Sigma 20 mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens. I wanted to see how well this lens suppressed internal ghost reflections from the greatly overexposed moon. Unfortunately, the worst potential reflection, located symmetrically across the center of the frame, would have been on the brightly illuminated porch, but it seems to be absent. This image was automatically exposed 1/2 second at f/1.4, ISO 800, with tungsten color balance, which seemed to be the best compromise in this mixed-lighting scene (e.g., a fluorescent street light above-left of me, tungsten bulbs on the porch and sodium lights on Main Street off to the right).The bright star above the nearest house is Procyon and the brighter star on the right is Sirius. Earlier in the day, at 9:38 am, while shoveling snow from the previous day's blizzard, an adult Bald Eagle flew up the street, passing a mere 20 to 30 ft above me standing at the same position as the camera was here. A spectacular view!



Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) near Arcturus
January 4, 2016

This is Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) near the bright star Arcturus in the constellation Bo÷tes on January 4, 2016, at 2:33 am EST. Taken from Swede Run in Moorestown, NJ, with a Canon 6D digital SLR camera (on a fixed tripod) and a Canon 100 mm f/2.8L macro lens (then lightly cropped to about 15░ x 10░). It was exposed 4 seconds at f/4, ISO 3200, using tungsten color balance. The comet was at 29░ altitude, Arcturus was 5░ away and the 31% illuminated moon was 35░ away (the crescent moon had risen at 2:00 am and was at 5░ altitude). Mouseover for labels. Click here for the Catalina page.

The picture below is a heavier crop of the area around the comet (to about 5.3░ x 3.5░). It is reminiscent to the view of the comet through 16x70 binoculars (4░ field of view).



First Light on New Year's Day
January 1, 2016

It was relatively clear (for a change) on the evening of January 1, 2016, so I made a quick trip to Atsion in Wharton State Forest, NJ, to try out a new Sigma 20 mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens, which provides an 84░ wide x 62░ high field with my "full frame" Canon 6D digital SLR camera. There was no special subject that I was after, just a bright winter star field (mouseover for labels). This single frame was captured at 8:40 pm EST. It was exposed 4 seconds at f/2, ISO 3200, using tungsten white balance. Click here for a larger version. The camera was mounted on a rather flimsy Sunpak 5200DLX "digital" tripod, which I had just picked up at Walmart (for $10) on the way to Atsion because I forgot to bring my sturdy Slik 700DX tripod. Note that the second pine tree from the right has a glow around it, which at first I thought might be some sort of JPEG artifact. However, when I checked the azimuth (approximately 150░), it was the direction towards Atlantic City.



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Last Update: Monday, April 04, 2016 at 02:06 PM Eastern Time