Monthly Archives: May 2013

Partial solar eclipse from Sydney

Today, 10th May 2013, the combined movements of the Sun, Earth and Moon gave us a very nice Annular Solar Eclipse. Following a similar path to the Total Solar Eclipse we enjoyed last November, the shadow of the Moon over the Earth moved from North Australia to the Pacific. However, today the Moon was close to its maximum distance to the Earth (planets and satellites move following elliptical orbits) and hence its apparent size on the sky was not big enough to completely cover the disc of the Sun. This is indeed the reason the eclipse was an annular solar eclipse.

In this occasion I couldn’t travel to North Australia to enjoy the annular eclipse (actually, I have seen 2 of these in the past, the most recent one was on 3rd October 2005 from Madrid), and even last night I didn’t expect to do anything special about this today. But this morning, while watching it from my backyard using my solar glasses, I decided just to take some few shots using not the telescope but only the tele lens. This is the result:

Partial Solar Eclipse from Sydney. Data obtained using a CANON EOS 600D, a 250mm Tele Lens and a Solar filter (which I hold by hand). I stacked 12 individual frames obtained at ISO 100, f10, 1/80 s using the Lynkeos software. The final processing was achieved using Photoshop. 10 May 2013 @ 09: 10 AEST ( 00:10 UT ), Sydney, Australia.
Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Observatory / Macquarie University, Agrupación Astronómica de Córdoba / Red Andaluza de Astronomía)

I hope you like it.


Timelapse video: The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope

A dark winter night, with the Milky Way crossing the firmament while its center in located near the zenith, is one of the most astonishing views we can enjoy. This vision is only obtained from the Southern Hemisphere and it is really inspiring. In particular, the Milky Way shines over the Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran (NSW), where the famous Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) is located. With the idea of sharing the beauty of the night sky to everybody, in May 2011 I decided to start taking timelapse photography while I was working as support astronomer at the AAT. This technique consists on taking many images and then adding all to get a movie with a very high resolution. The best shots I obtained by September 2011 were included in the video The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope, which is available both in YouTube and in several MOV/MP4 files (HD, iPad, iPhone) in my personal AAO webpage.

“The Sky over the Anglo-Australian Telescope” was my first public timelapse video, released in November 2011.
Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO/MQ), the credit of the music is Echoes from the past, by Dj Fab.

The video, which lasts for 2.7 minutes, is the results of combining around 3800 different frames obtained using a CANON EOS 600D between June and September 2011. Except for those frames used for the sunset in the first scene, all frames have a 30 seconds exposure time, with a ISO speed of 1600. As the videos were created at 24 fps (frames per second), each second in the movie corresponds to 12 minutes in real time. I used several lens to take the images (standard 50 mm, 50mm x 0.65 focal reducer and a 10 mm wide-angle lens). The focal chosen was 5.6 (for the 50 mm lens) or 4.5 (10 mm wide-angle lens). Processing each sequence of the movie took five to six hours of computer time, and usually I had to repeat this at least once for each sequence, to improve the quality. The soundtrack I chose is an extract of the music Echoes from the past, by the french composer Dj Fab, which gives energy to the timelapse.

The Milky Way is setting at Siding Spring Observatory on 21 Sep 2011.
Click here to get the full resolution frame.
Credit: Á.R. L-S.

As my main job while I’m at the AAT is providing instrumental and scientific support to the astronomers who are observing in this telescope, I always set the camera up at the beginning of the night, let it run, and check on its progress occasionally. Sometimes this was not easy: wind knocked the camera over on a couple of times, often the battery ran out, and even once I had an encounter with some intransigent kangaroos. However, finally I got this material, which does not only show the magnificent Milky Way rising and setting above the dome of the AAT, but also stars circling the South Celestial Pole, the Magellanic Clouds over the AAT, satellites and airplanes crossing the sky, the Moon rising and setting, and the most famous constellations as Orion, Carina and the Southern Cross.

Circumpolar star traces (2.7 hours) over the Anglo-Australian Telescope on 20 Sep 2011.
Click here to get the full resolution frame.
Credit: Á.R. L-S.

I hope you enjoy the result. More timelapse videos to come soon!