Blog readers might have picked up on a newer interest of mine--- Astronomy!
Recently, I had read that Planet Mercury was highly visible just after sunset, and I had made an effort to go see that and amazingly - I was able to.
Then, another astronomical feat that I accomplished was to see the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn around the Winter Solstice on Dec 21st, 2020.
Mars is quite easy to see ... it seems that it is visible in the night sky generously over the last month or two.
Venus has been out of site as of late - but should be visible after May 24th for a good part of the year. I have seen venus a few times in the past - but I was not really into astronomy at the time but I do recall being impressed with how bright it was.
Finally, the two farthest planets in our solar system - Neptune and Uranus... I have never seen these planets or even attempted to. But... I have finally made an effort to find these gaseous giants and amazingly --- my meager efforts worked! (Well- I looked for Planet Uranus and found it convincingly Saturday Feb 20 2021)
How to find it?
I typically go out on my back porch in Windsor. Launch the FREE Stellarium APP software on your phone. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.noctuasoftware.stellarium_free&hl=en_CA&gl=US
You can compare what you see with what the app shows. In the photos below, I show how the app can show a planet (see bottom center) with respect to other surrounding stars. Mars is easy to see with the naked eye. Then, Stars: HAMAL and SHERATAN (Bottom Right) are visible with the naked eyed and through the viewfinder of my 400mm Prime Canon Lens with Canon 7D. After photographing SHERATAN --- I panned horizontally to the left. Although the stars and planets are too faint to see with the naked eye, you can view the photo preview window to see the patterns as shown in the app. Using this approach, I found Planet Uranus --- even with a slight green-blue hue as described online.
Sitting out on my back porch, dressed up in winter gear in -8 C temps, looking through a scope, camera, app is quite challenging. Astrophotography demands patience and a good tripod. Another complicating factor is that when these items are high in the sky, the tripod is not designed to have a camera point straight up --- so creative setups need to be implemented - for ergonomics and ones sanity.
I will try to research and figure out when Neptune will be visible. I was going to look for it tonight (Sunday Feb 21st 2021) --- but of course --- its cloudy.
Tuesday Feb 23 (Second Attempt)
---Starting to realize that a 4 second exposure will show 'streaking' as the earths' rotation at this telescopic view will blur a sphere. I took many photos but the two below are closer to 2-3 seconds as opposed to 4 second exposures. (ISO and aperture were sacrificed for shutter speed). The two photos below also have had noise reduction and darkening the background.
Uranus is 4x bigger in diameter than the earth. Its is 3.02 BILLION kms away from Earth. I consider myself as a select few human beings that have ever seen this tiny aqua blue green dot with my own eyes. I have to give credit to the stellarium app, my celestron 80mm spotting scope, my camera (canon 7D with 400mm lens as well as some solid manfrotto tripods).
I want to photograph Neptune eventually --- but it will be a few months before it is in view at nightime. Venus as well.