Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Moon, her Dog and the Leo

After a week and a half of cludy skies and snow I was finally able to setup my scope for some imaging. The 12.5 day old Moon looked great after sunset so I framed into my 10" Newtonian f/4.7 and snapped few shots. After supper while the scope was left running I realized that cirrus had moved in. Evidently the Weather Gods thought that 20 minutes of somewhat clear skies were enough. While I was tearing down the scope  I noticed a perfectly formed halo surrounding the Moon. I also noticed a brighter elongated patch protruding eastward from the halo. Initially I thought it could be a small cloud illuminated by light pollution, but after a while I realized I was looking at a very nice moondog! I quick check on the western side of the halo confirmed the presence of the second moondog, although definitely fainter.

This image was taken with an unmodified Canon XSi on a tripod using the stock 18-55mm lens with focal length set at 18mm. This is a single 10sec frame at ISO 800 midly processed in Photoshop by running the Noise Ninja plugin and saturating the colours a bit.

While looking carefully at the image I also realized that Saturn and the constellation of the Leo were in the field of view. The bluish dot and streak at about 10 o'clock is caused by an internal reflection within the camera.

This is the first time I see a moondog and it was a quite exciting experience! After all clouds are not always persona non grata...:-)

Here is also one of the images taken earlier in the night using the same Canon XSi. This image consists of a single 1/200th sec frame at ISO 200. Focus Magic was used to sharpen the details a bit. I also saturated the colours to evidence the subtle variations across the lunar surface.


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