Predawn Celestial Carolers

Saturday, December 16, 2017



Like festive carolers lined up during Advent--the moon, planets and a star put on a show during the predawn hours of Saturday, December 16, 2017 in Marion, Iowa. The image shown above looks ESE from Alburnett Road at Bowstring Drive in the Bowman Meadows housing area at 6:23 am CST. Celestial objects are, from bottom left to upper right: waning crescent moon, -1.74 magnitude planet Jupiter, 1.59 magnitude planet Mars, and 0.96 magnitude star Spica (in constellation Virgo). Trailing this lineup below the horizon but not captured here was the planet Mercury, which became visible around 6:45 am; and Venus around 7:05 am. Official sunrise was at 7:29 am. Image is a 4-second exposure at f/6.3, 800 ISO and 18mm focal length. Air temperature was 30 degrees F. Nikon D7200 DSLR.

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Spring Break

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Okay, not really spring break, but it was a break from winter conditions and very much like spring, so...

Unseasonably warm and humid conditions on Monday afternoon, December 4, 2017 in eastern Iowa brought thunderstorms--yes thunderstorms--not snow. A line of northeast-tracking storms brought wind, heavy rain and lighting--including one violent strike near this position on Brentwood Drive NE in Cedar Rapids. The above image looks north at 4:39 pm CST as the storm begins to move into the area. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.



My Davis Instruments Vantage Vue weather station display at 4:36 pm. Southerly winds, 64-degree F temperature, 58-degree dew point, 79% humidity and a 29.41 in. and falling barometer were the order of the afternoon.


Shown above is a WeatherTap radar screen capture of eastern Iowa at 4:44 pm, showing lightning activity and storm track. The white arrow at Cedar Rapids indicates my position.




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Festive Supermoon

Sunday, December 3, 2017


A "supermoon" hangs over a festive array of Christmas lights on White Ivy Place NE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 6:06 am CST on Sunday, December 3, 2017 as it was setting in the west.
This image is a 0.8-second exposure at f/5.6, 640 ISO and 70mm focal length. Air temperature
was a frosty 27 degrees F. The moon here was composited from the image seen below.


This 300mm zoomed shot of the supermoon was also captured at 6:06 am and is a 1/250-second exposure at f/7.1, 200 ISO. Official full moon for this area occurred at 9:48 am, almost three hours after moonset. The moon was 8% wider and 16% brighter than average. A supermoon is defined as a full moon that coincides with the closest distance that it comes in relation to the Earth, resulting in a larger-than-normal size. This was the closest full moon for all of 2017. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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Chilled Fire

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


With air temperatures hovering around the freezing mark on Sunday, November 19, 2017, post-sunset skies as seen from Marion, Iowa were nevertheless fiery. The image above looks west from Hampshire Drive, about one-tenth mile south of East Robins Road at 4:56 pm. Image is a 1/25-second exposure at f/5.6, 320 ISO and 122mm focal length.


Also looking west at 5:03 pm. 1/40-second exposure at f/8, 640 ISO and 190mm focal length.


5:23 pm. Looking southwest. Sky in this image includes a waxing crescent moon. 1/6-second exposure at f/5.6, 320 ISO, 95mm focal length. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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Too Late For Halloween

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Looking perfect for a Halloween setting--but three days too late--is this full moon veiled by a thin layer of clouds and behind the branches of a bare tree. Image looks east from Brentwood Drive NE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was shot at 1/60 second at f/5.6, 800 ISO and 300mm focal length. 8:17 pm CDT, Friday, November 3, 2017. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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Badlands Dark Skies Leftovers

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Capturing early morning skies from the Badlands Door Trail in South Dakota on Monday, September 18, 2017 also included these two miscellaneous images. There were so many stars in this dark location that it was somewhat difficult to identify the constellation Orion. Conversely, in the light polluted skies of eastern Iowa, Orion is very obvious. The image above looks southeast at 4:15 am MDT. Just to the right of the Milky Way at center is Orion, with the -1.47 magnitude star Sirius seen just above and left of the horizon glow. Image is a 20 second exposure at f/2.8, 5000 ISO and 11mm focal length.


Looking east at 5:26 am from the same location. Just above the horizon glow at center is the -3.94 magnitude planet Venus, rising ahead of an eventual conjunction that included the star Regulus, crescent moon, and planets Mars & Mercury respectively. Also visible above and right of Venus is the Beehive Cluster (M44). Identical settings to the top image, with the exception of an ISO of 2000. Nikon D7200 DSLR, Tokina Lens.

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Badlands Beauty

Friday, October 20, 2017



An opening in the clouds near Panorama Point in the Badlands of South Dakota at the start of golden hour provided a reddish tint to rock strata seen in the image above. Image captured at 5:39 pm MDT, Saturday, September 16, 2017.



A panorama at Pinnacles Overlook two minutes after sunset on September 16. Official sunset was at 6:57 pm MDT.




Entering Door Trail from the parking lot at the Badlands, 6:11 am MDT, Sunday, September 17, 2017. Official sunrise was at 6:31. Visible in the eastern sky in this image is the -3.94 magnitude planet Venus, and the waning crescent moon.


Moving farther into Door Trail moments later. The brilliant red sky was probably augmented by distant wildfires.


Rock pinnacles, tinted red from the rising sun at Badlands Door Trail are contrasted by white wispy cirrus clouds in a west-viewed blue background sky. Image captured at 6:51 am MDT, 20 minutes after official sunrise. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera. 1/160 second, f/16, ISO 320, 16mm focal length.



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