Cinco de Mayo sunset and astro experiments

What a beautiful (probably smog enhanced) sunset at my friends house here in Larkspur.  Wasn’t focusing too much on photos (more on just chilling after a tough couple of weeks) but was able to capture several with a 55mm prime f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens.  

Going for the shallow depth of field to blur the background. f1.8, 1/6400, iso100, 55mm.

Rampart Range, Perry Park and Devils Head. f8, 1/160, iso100, 55mm

Devils Head and contrail. f8, 1/125, iso100, 55mm

Devils Head and “X” marks the spot! f8, 1/60, iso125, 55mm.

Love how the moon flares with this lens. 15sec, iso1600.

We were watching for the eta Aquariids shooting stars, and it was time to go home, so I made a fireball :). This is actually the moon. 15 sec, iso1600.

These are fairly noise due to the digital zoom with the 55mm lens. I’ll go back and shoot these with a telephoto sometime. This is the Front Range west of Denver. f8, 1/60, iso160, 55mm

Another perspective. Lookout Mountain in Golden is in the lower left. f8, 1/60, iso200, 55mm.

eta-Aquarids

This year’s eta-Aquarids meteorite shower was one I’ve been waiting for as it was close to a new moon; with the moon rise just before dawn.  This should be ideal conditions for watching a meteorite shower.

eta-Aquarids are produced from the debris left from Haley’s Comet.  These are very fast shooters and have been said to be large and leave long trails; sometimes lasting for minutes.  I’ve only seen a couple of meteorites that have left trails for longer than a couple seconds, so I’ve been looking forward to this particular shower.

eta-Aquarids Crescent Moon

Crescent moon on the eve of the eta-Aquarids rising above Larkspur Butte

The peak is Cinco de Mayo, so I went out and viewed them the morning of and the night after this date.  The shower has a large window of time so hitting the peak on this day is sometimes off.  It was somewhat hazy the morning of but I was able to see a few small shooters.  Obviously it wasn’t the peak; or if so I was unlucky.  I did do a timelapse and caught one on film.

eta-Aquarids meteorite

eta-Aquarids meteorite with some color from light pollution and haze

I’m trying out a new lens, a Rokinon 14mm fixed f/2.8 lens which is often praised for astrophotography work. It is manual focus but so far I’m not having a focus problem like I have had with other lens. I took these at ISO 1600 for 15 seconds and am so far excited about the results. So far (it’s in the middle of the second night), there is a thin cloud cover at about 30k; you can sometime see through (barely) the clouds but the sky is mostly covered; making viewing difficult. I have seen several shooters but they have been relatively small and faint with the clouds; probably faint without the cloud cover too.

Aquarids Milky Way over Larkspur

Milky Way over Larkspur with Aquarids Satellite

On the morning of May 6th, there was substantial cloud cover.  I went out about 11:30 and I could see the clouds coming from the South.  They overtook the stars about 12:30; I looked again about 3:30 and it was still cloudy; but at 7:30 it was clear.  These pictures illustrate that even living in a rural area the light from neighboring towns 15 minutes away is quite substantial.  The could cover was relatively light, however, and for a while you could see the stars through the clouds; through open exposure on the camera anyway.

Light pollution

Light pollution from Castle Rock reflecting off the clouds really stands out when there is cloud cover

Light Pollution - Aquarids

Light pollution reflecting off the clouds from Monument