Astrophotography Under the Clouds

The Moon 21st November (Click to Enlarge)

When one is planning on a night of astrophotography, one should make sure the sky is clear of cloud. Normally I would follow that advice…. but more about that later.

When you are taking pictures of nebulae and distant galaxies, you need to make sure the skies are right for taking pictures. Sometimes the sky is turbulent due to winds or temperature changes. When you look at an object in these conditions you can have the same effect as if you were looking at the bottom of a clear lake on a windy day and the wind is rippling the water.

This is known in astronomy circles as bad seeing where light from distant stars can be seen to flicker and jump. Now these are not conditions you want to be taking  pictures in because the pictures you get back will be blurred and distorted.

Anyway, I looked up at the sky last night at about 9pm wondering if there was a possibility that Sydney’s overcast conditions had cleared. Alas, the clouds were still there in force.

But I was surprised to see a few lights up there among the clouds and on closer inspection they turned out to be some really bright stars that were peeking through thin cloud layers. This was amazing as the entire sky was covered in a grey blanket.

So I shifted my attention west and first thing I saw in that direction was Jupiter shining through the clouds. And then further west was the Moon which was in a waxing crescent phase of 22% surface lit. With all this cloud about there was no point in getting the scope out but there might still be a picture opportunity here.

So I ran inside and grabbed my camera and pointed the digital cam at the moon.

I posted the best of the pictures here. Not likely to win an award any time soon but at least I was able to take a picture of the moon as it shone through overcast cloud conditions.

~ by sydneystargazers on November 21, 2009.

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