Archive for the ‘LG VX8360 cell phone camera’ Category

It happens that during this May and June 2012 I was able to photograph the Moon very close to the exact times of the four principal phases: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter. As the late, great Jack Horkheimer would have said, “Let me show you!”

The New Moon usually can’t be observed visually, but an exception to that rule is when there’s a solar eclipse such as the one we observed on May 20, 2012. Here we see the Moon’s outline as it partially eclipses the Sun at 8:25 PM CDT May 20, 2012 (01:25 UT 5-21-12). According to the technical definition, the moment of New Moon was less than two hours before at 6:47 PM CDT (11:47 UT), when the eclipse had not yet begun in our location, but in my mind the Moon would truly be the “newest” while actually eclipsing the Sun! Projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece.

7:27 PM CDT May 28, 2012 (00:27 UT May 29, 2012), four hours and eleven minutes after the exact First Quarter phase.

The fullest Full Moon occurs when there’s a lunar eclipse. Here’s the Moon looking very full indeed at 4:10 AM CDT June 4, 2012 (09:10 UT), during the early stages of the partial lunar eclipse. The left side of the Moon was partially in the Earth’s penumbra at the time, but I find it hard to see. Can you? It seems strange to me that the media hyped up May 5th’s Full Moon as a “supermoon,” when June 4th’s was nearly as close and “super,” and featured an eclipse besides!

My very last photo of the partial lunar eclipse, at 5:23 AM CDT June 4, 2012 (10:23 UT), as the eclipse continued to deepen. The fullest minute of the Full Moon took place 49 minutes later at 6:12 AM (11:12 UT), but by then the Moon had set here. 60mm refractor telescope with 25mm eyepiece.

Finally, the Moon at 5:17 AM CDT June 11, 2012 (10:17 UT), just 24 minutes before the moment of Last Quarter.

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece. All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

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Whew! Time to unwind now, after a period of less than one month in which we experienced a partial solar eclipse, a partial lunar eclipse, and last but not least, a historic transit of Venus! Even in seasons without such spectacles, in space everything is extraordinary, and Saturn is now convenient for viewing after sunset. The photo above was taken at 11:42 PM CDT June 7, 2012 (4:42 UT June 8, 2012), with the 8″ reflector telescope, 17mm eyepiece, and 2x Barlow (191x magnification).

For those of you who enjoyed seeing Venus shine high and bright in the evening sky in the last few months, especially in March when Jupiter joined it in dazzling conjunction, I have good news: Venus and Jupiter are shortly putting on a repeat performance, and all you have to do to see it is get up before dawn! In the upcoming days and weeks, look in the east before sunrise, and you will see the two planets a little higher in the sky each morning, Jupiter higher up, dimmer than Venus but still quite bright.

Viewed “live” through the telescope, the ultra-thin crescent Venus appears more magically, delicately thin than the first photo suggests, and also looks glistening as well as bright. I am persuaded that we actually see a reflection of the Sun on the clouds of Venus at this phase, like the Sun’s reflection on a quiet lake. If you get the chance to see it through a telescope, don’t miss it:

8:57 AM CDT June 12, 2012 (13:57 UT)
Angular diameter 56.46 arc seconds
1.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 27,463,558 miles (44,198,313 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
7:33 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:33 UT June 6, 2012)
Angular diameter 57.78 arc seconds
0.0% illumination, transiting the Sun
Distance from Earth 26,836,379 miles (43,188,966 km)
Projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece
10:50 AM CDT May 16, 2012 (15:50 UT)
Angular diameter 48.03 arc seconds
12.3% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,284,073 miles (51,956,179 km)
10:26 AM CDT May 10, 2012 (15:26 UT)
Angular diameter 43.71 arc seconds
18.1% illumination
Distance from Earth 35,473,212 miles (57,088,600 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
12:41 PM CDT May 3, 2012 (17:41 UT)
Angular diameter 39.11 arc seconds
24.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 39,649,337 miles (63,809,423 km)
18mm eyepiece

7:14 PM CDT April 22, 2012 (00:14 UT 4-23-12)
Angular diameter 33.12 arc seconds
33.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 46,812,338 miles (75,337,236 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow

6:28 PM CDT March 24, 2012 (23:28 UT)
Angular diameter 22.95 arc seconds
52.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 67,571,683 miles (108,746,083 km)

4:10 PM CST February 12, 2012 (22:10 UT)
Angular diameter 16.24 arc seconds
70.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 95,450,953 miles (153,613,419 km)
18mm eyepiece

1:48 PM CST February 8, 2012 (19:48 UT)
Angular diameter 15.82 arc seconds
71.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 98,020,580 miles (157,748,833 km)
18mm eyepiece

2:37 PM CST January 5, 2012 (20:37 UT)
Angular diameter 13.19 arc seconds
81.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 117,572,894 miles (189,215,232 km)
2:21 PM CST November 29, 2011 (20:21 UT)
Angular diameter 11.46 arc seconds
89.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 135,265,885 miles (217,689,541 km)
4:18 PM CST November 20, 2011 (22:18 UT)
Angular diameter 11.13 arc seconds
91.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 139,346,992 miles (227,254,246 km)
12:03 PM CST January 5, 2011 (18:03 UTC)
Angular diameter 25.58 arc seconds
48.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 60,611,164 miles (97,544,214 km)
10:02 AM CST November 27, 2010 (16:02 UTC)
Angular diameter 44.72 arc seconds
20.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 34,669,885 miles (55,795,771 km)
12:40 PM CDT (17:40 UTC), November 5, 2010
Angular diameter 59.94 arc seconds
2.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 25,866,740 miles (41,628,483 km)

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece. LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

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The planet Venus, silhouetted against the Sun, during the 2012 Transit of Venus. 7:20 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:20 UT June 6, 2012), projected onto a paperboard screen with a 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece, photographed with an LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge. This is but one small document of this truly momentous celestial event which I was privileged to witness and which I will never see again.

I’ll post a more detailed report as time allows, but one thing I’d like to share right now is that the simple, lowly projection method was even more effective than this photo might suggest. When the sky was clearest (we had some thin haze at first, but not enough to block our view, thank God), the crisp disk of Venus didn’t just look like a circle cut out of the Sun, but really looked like it was a separate object suspended in front of the Sun!

One more thing I’ll tell you right now: I’m truly looking forward to the Mercury transits of May 9, 2016 and November 11, 2019!

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UPDATE: If you come across this post looking for amateur photos and accounts of the 2012 Venus transit, please check out the one photo I’ve posted so far HERE, and come back again, as I intend to post a more detailed report in the near future.

No, this isn’t Venus, just a very humble photo of the waning gibbous Moon through hazy clouds, back to its normal self exactly one day after the partial lunar eclipse, and 14 minutes after sunrise. 5:46 AM CDT June 5, 2012 (10:46 UT), 60mm refractor telescope with 25mm eyepiece and (you guessed it) LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

The day has come! I hope everyone can experience today’s historic Venus Transit as it happens just a few hours from now. It is a beautiful sunny day here in Alexandria, Minnesota, USA, where I will be leading a community education class for the occasion.

Here’s the link to the NASA Edge webcast of the Venus transit:


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As with the December 10, 2011 Lunar Eclipse, the Partial Lunar Eclipse of June 4, 2012 was still in progress at the time of moonset here, but the weather cooperated beautifully, so here’s a photorecord of the event:

Before heading to the neighborhood park with the small refractor, I managed to get in a few shots with the 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece (65x magnification), including this one at 4:10 AM CDT (9:10 UT 6-4-12).

At this time the Moon was already partially in the penumbra of the Earth’s shadow, but I couldn’t tell. In my experience there’s little if any visible change during the penumbral stage.

Most of the following photos are with the 60mm refractor and 25mm eyepiece (28x magnification).

4:50 AM, with noticeable darkening on the Moon’s left limb.

4:59 AM, the umbra becoming evident.

5:01 AM.

5:03 AM.

5:04 AM.

At 5:07 AM, a first for me, and one of those unplannable things that only happen “once in a blue moon.” I captured a distant jet transiting the Moon’s face, and didn’t even realize it until I saw the picture!

5:08 AM, the Moon sinking very close to the southwestern horizon.

Still 5:10 AM, looking northeast towards dawn, a pelican serenely crosses the lake.

5:12 AM.

5:15 AM, with 7×35 binoculars.

5:15 AM.

At 5:22 AM, 42 minutes before the time of greatest eclipse, the Moon is about to set.

At 5:27 AM, ducks and ducklings are going about their morning’s business.

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Next stop: The Historic Venus Transit of 2012, only a day away!

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Many amazing things happening in the skies these days. Besides the Transit of Venus, now only two days away, there’s a partial lunar eclipse tomorrow on June 4, 2012, which for us in the USA’s Central Time Zone occurs just about at sunrise, but we hope to observe part of it before the Moon sets, and if you’re west of us (for example, in a Pacific state such as Oregon), you will have an even better view of it than we will.

Here is the Moon this past week on May 28/29, only a few hours after the First Quarter Phase:

7:27 PM CDT 5-28-12 (00:27 UT 5-29-12), 25mm eyepiece (magnification 65x)

11:26 PM CDT 5-28-12 (4:26 UT 5-29-12), 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow (magnification 130x)
The northern end of the Moon, with sunrise just reaching the west rim of Plato, and the lunar Alpine Valley showing up quite well.

11:31 PM CDT 5-28-12 (4:31 UT 5-29-12), 17mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow (magnification 191x)
An interesting feature called the Straight Wall shows up well in the left center of this photo, which is centered in the south central portion of the Moon’s disk. The Straight Wall is about 80 miles or 130 kilometers long.

8″ f8 homebuilt reflector telescope with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

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Reports of yesterday’s solar eclipse are coming in from all over:

From Journey To the Stars in the Philippines: Crescent Sun At Sunrise

From SpaceWeather.com: Fantastic Eclipse

From Sky and Telescope: May 20th’s Solar Eclipse

From soulblindministry in Arizona: My Solar Eclipse Video

And here’s my report: The sky was perfect for our party of family and friends who gathered at the neighborhood park to view the eclipse. I projected the Sun’s image into a makeshift projection box using my 60mm f11.6 refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece. We also used Eclipse Shades from Astronomers Without Borders, which I highly recommend. The direct view of the eclipsed (and uneclipsed) Sun with these glasses was not only clear but positively dramatic.

I simply note the local time on May 20, 2012, with the photos below, but for those interested in Universal Time, the photos were taken between 23:45 UT on May 20, 2012 and 1:34 UT on May 21, 2012:

The Sun viewed via projection at 6:45 PM, just over one half hour before the beginning of the eclipse. Look closely and you may discern three sunspot groups, which, stretching from about “eleven o’clock” to “four o’clock” are designated 1486, 1484, and 1482 respectively.

The uneclipsed Sun shining brightly at 6:53 PM.

7:18 PM, only a minute or two after the Moon started taking a “bite” out of the lower right limb of the Sun as viewed from our location.

7:30 PM.

7:44 PM.

7:47 PM.

My niece and great nephew, a mother duck and duckling, and the partially eclipsed Sun at 7:48 PM.

Party attendees sporting Eclipse Shades at 7:48 PM.

7:49 PM. Someone (maybe my great nephew) thought it looked like the Cookie Monster had gotten hungry!

7:51 PM. Others were photographing the projected image and even sending images to friends – I’m told that my sister elsewhere in Minnesota had pictures from our party up on her Facebook page while we were still at the park!

7:54 PM.

My wife (left) and two friends at 7:55 PM, enjoying the view via Eclipse Shades, which were a complete success.

7:56 PM.

7:59 PM, the Sun’s subdued light giving a lovely ambience.

8:01 PM.

8:03 PM. Four-year-old astronomer Ayden, my great nephew, shows off his Moon picture, traced in the ground before his feet.

At 8:15 PM, attendees continue to view the eclipse using Eclipse Shades.

8:19 PM.

8:21 PM.

At 8:29 PM, the Sun begins to sink behind the trees on the horizon.

8:29 PM.

The eclipse was still in progress at 8:34 PM, a few minutes before sunset.

All with my usual LG VX8360 cell phone camera. We also viewed Venus just after sunset – only 16 days before the transit, and later on back home a few of us viewed Saturn with my large reflector. “A great time was had by all.” And if you’re close to my location at the time of the June 5 Venus Transit, come join us!

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