Thursday, October 2, 2014

The October Night Sky Runneth Over!

There are a lot of solar events occurring in October, most of them have to do with the night sky, but there is one event that will occurred during the day.  That is a partial solar eclipse that will occur October 23.  The weather permitting, this will be a great month for photographing at night.

To remind everybody, on the morning of October 8 starting at around 4 AM I will conduct a workshop at Gooseberry to capture the Total Lunar Eclipse.  You can sign up at:

The night sky with Orion and a Orionoid meteor in the right upper quadrant
Around October 21, the Orionoid Meteor Showers peak, in fact, Orion begins to rise after midnight and if you aim your camera toward the east, you can capture Orion and hopefully with meteors in the scene.

Also around this time because the night sky will be nearly moonless you will be able to capture the Milky Way, which should be directly overhead.

Zodiacal light may be visible in the East just before sunrise, if you are in a dark location around the last 10 days of the month.  Explanation of zodiacal light From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Zodiacal light is a faint, roughly triangular, diffuse white glow seen in the night sky that appears to extend up from the vicinity of the Sun along the ecliptic or zodiac. It is best seen just after sunset in spring, and just before sunrise in autumn, when the zodiac is at a steep angle to the horizon. Caused by sunlight scattered by space dust in the zodiacal cloud, it is so faint that either moonlight or light pollution renders it invisible.  The zodiacal light decreases in intensity with distance from the Sun, but on very dark nights it has been observed in a band completely around the ecliptic. In fact, the zodiacal light covers the entire sky, being responsible in large part for the total skylight on a moonless night."
Photographing this event you would utilize the same settings as photographing stars at night.

I never have been lucky enough to photograph a solar eclipse, but this month looks like my first chance.  I have been researching various sites on how to photograph a solar eclipse.  First thing, and most important item is not to look at the sun directly or through your lens on your camera, it could ruin your eyesight.  A number of photographers utilize live view for setting up the scene and only utilize it for a short period of time.  Also a 10 x neutral density filter is important to keep from blowing out the highlights.  You could also purchase a number 8 welding helmet filter and hold that in front of the lens.  Some of the recommended settings that I have seen is a low ISO, f-stop between f/8-f/11 and shutter speed to keep from blowing out the highlights.  A solar eclipse exposure guide is available from

I will be setting up some workshops for the Orionoids meteor shower, and the partial solar eclipse, so watch for the announcements.

With the crescent moon visible in the Don sky look for Jupiter in various locations depending on the date near the moon.  When the crescent moon is visible in the dusk Mars will also be seen near the moon.

What makes October a great month for viewing and photographing is that the nights are not very cold and there are less mosquitoes around.  Also remember, if you are going to use a flashlight to look at your settings cover the lens with red cellophane so you do not lose your night vision. It takes 20 minutes to reacquire your night vision.

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