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Sun, Moon and Stars

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Portrait of the Milky Way

From last weekend’s trip to the Colorado high country. Taken on Friday night, I was pretty beat after working and driving but made myself leave the warm bed at camp and go out and capture a few images of the show after dark. Certainly, ideally, I would have gone far later at night but as is, the images didn’t come out too bad.

Here, you clearly see the center of our galaxy and as an added bonus, Mars (bright red, bottom left). Just below Mars, the lights from a plane is seen and if you look close toward the top right you see the faint light trail of a satellite.

Portrait of the Milky Way galaxy as seen from Brainard Lake, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Portrait of the Milky Way galaxy as seen from Brainard Lake, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

One year ago today: The Great American Eclipse

I still get goosebumps when I think back to this extraordinary celestial event.

My brother and I had the date marked on our calendars for years and when the time came, our planning could not have panned out better. I spent weeks leading up to the event researching how to photograph a solar eclipse and practiced every chance I got. We chose a spot in southeastern Wyoming near the town of Lingle, away from major population centers and a spot that would likely have clear skies.

When the time came, well, it was just awesome. Period. For those that were able to get under the path of totality, it was something you will remember for the rest of your life.

I was so impressed by it, I already have the date of April 8, 2024 circled on my calendar for when the next total solar eclipse happens in North America and I will be doing my best to be there.

This image is a collage of the various stages of the event from the start when the first sliver of the moon started to block the sun to the diamond ring just before totality, totality, and then the finishing stages.

Images taken with my CanonUSA 7D Mark II and SIGMA 150-600 Sports.

Collage of images of the Great American Eclipse in August 2017 from start to finish. (© Tony’s Takes)

Collage of images of the Great American Eclipse in August 2017 from start to finish. (© Tony’s Takes)

Nighttime sky in Colorado’s high country with the Milky Way, Mars and satellites

Last winter I bought myself a second camera body (#Canon 6D Mark II) and a fast, wide angle lens (EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM). Landscapes and stars were my biggest reason for selecting this gear and while I have indeed used it on daytime subjects, I had yet to use it on the night sky – until last week.

It wasn’t ideal but there was a brief window of a couple of hours between sunset and moonrise and I gave it a shot. I came away with some captures that I am pretty pleased with, including this one. You can see the center of our galaxy and, that bright, red light to the bottom left is Mars, at the time its closest to Earth in years. The trails of two satellites are also seen. The glow on the horizon is light from Granby and Winter Park.

Ideally this would have been taken later at night / earlier in the morning during a new moon and in a bit more remote location, something I am going to be trying to do in the coming weeks. But, given the situation, I think this came out pretty good. I did goof and forget to take off my polarizer filter which meant a higher ISO than what would have been needed otherwise and haze from wildfires in California had an impact as well.

Daytime waning crescent moon

While full moon’s are beautiful and get the most attention, the light tends to be so bright and direct that it hides the details of our natural satellite. During the other phases though, the light isn’t as direct and helps to really make features pop. In this image, taken yesterday morning not long after sunrise, you get a really nice feel for the ‘texture’ of the moon and can see the details of the craters much better.

A waning crescent moon is seen in the daytime skies over Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A waning crescent moon is seen in the daytime skies over Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Blood moon and stars

One more from yesterday morning’s lunar eclipse. As I mentioned in the posting last night, I kind of struggled with my zoomed in pics of the celestial event. Clearly my manual focusing was less than spot on and there seemed to be a bit of movement.

This capture didn’t come out too horrible and I do like the hint of blue in the sky caused by the rising sun in the opposite direction.

View my complete set of captures of the celestial event below the image.

The January 2018 total lunar eclipse at totality with a few stars showing. (© Tony’s Takes)

The January 2018 total lunar eclipse at totality with a few stars showing. (© Tony’s Takes)

The super blue blood moon over Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

I took a couple hours off of work today so I could come in late to capture the lunar eclipse. For two hours I froze my you-know-what-off to capture the event from Barr Lake State Park, Colorado State Parks.

Unfortunately I am less than happy with my zoomed in pics of the event. I suspect I did a poor job manually focusing.

However, as things came to an end, I took a wider view of the scene capturing this one. Below, the frozen lake and lights from the Front Range with those snow-capped mountains behind. Above, a wave cloud and of course that blood moon.

View all my images from this celestial event below the image.

The January 2018 total lunar eclipse is seen above Colorado's Rocky Mountains. (© Tony’s Takes)

The January 2018 total lunar eclipse is seen above Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Looking back: December 10, 2011 total lunar eclipse

This coming Wednesday we will get to witness a bit of a trifecta of lunar events – a super moon, a blue moon and a blood moon. Of course the big part of that is the latter, the total lunar eclipse that will take place. Not long before sunrise, the full moon will be setting in the west and at 6:29am MST be totally eclipsed. Soon after it will disappear over the horizon.

The event will be similar to the one pictured here just over six years ago. Back then I was just re-dipping my toes into photography after being largely absent for a number of years and my gear and skills lacked where I am at / what I have today. If I can make it work with my schedule, I am going to give the 2018 version of the event a try.

A view of the December 2011 total lunar eclipse as seen from Colorado's Barr Lake State Park.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A view of the December 2011 total lunar eclipse as seen from Colorado’s Barr Lake State Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Video slideshow: Photo event of the year – the Great American Eclipse

The last of my annual recap slideshows with what I consider to be my photo event of the year.

My brother and I made plans to be in the path of totality three years ago. In the month or so leading up to it, I read and practiced as much as I could about how best to photograph this once-in-a-lifetime event.

With totality only last two minutes or so, I couldn’t afford to screw up! 😉 Thankfully, all that preparation paid off and I captured some great pics (IMHO) of this celestial event from start to finish.

I don’t know what the new year will hold for photographic opportunities but I don’t expect it will be able to top this. Happy New Year, everyone!

Moon creates the ultimate starburst effect

I’ve been working on my end of the year photo slideshows and in doing so have found some pretty cool pics I have never shared. This is one of them, dating back to August 21 during the total solar eclipse.

I had two cameras going at the time, the primary one was zoomed in on the big event and you probably have seen those images (if not, see here). The other camera I handheld and just grabbed some random shots during the celestial event.

This was taken just as totality was ending and the sun was emerging from behind the moon. You get a nice look at the corona and a very cool starburst effect.

If you want to memorialize this extraordinary event, I have prints available of my eclipse pictures in a wide variety of sizes and formats. Just let me know what you are looking for.

The sun begins to emerge from behind the moon during the 2017 total solar eclipse.  (© Tony’s Takes)

The sun begins to emerge from behind the moon during the 2017 total solar eclipse. (© Tony’s Takes)

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