I was looking back through some older shots this week when I noticed this one which I had forgotten to upload to Flickr. I have no idea why I didn't upload it when I shot it, because it's one of my best astrophotography shots, nicely and clearly incorporating both the Moon and the Planet Venus into the shot. What at we see here is a view across St. Joseph's Square in St. Patrick's College Maynooth (SPCM)looking towards St. Patrick's House with the spire of the College Chapel also visible. In the top left of the shot you can see Venus, and just above the building you can see a very thin crescent Moon with a lot of Earth Shine. This shot was taken with a tripod because it was dark and a four and half second exposure was needed.

Moon & Venus over SPCM
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 4.5 sec (shot on tripod)
  • Focal Length: 19mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -3.0ev

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This week's Photo of the Week is a re-visiting of the same original image that formed the starting point for the mono-chrome conversion that was Photo of the Week 48. Although I really like the black & white version, the only reason it exists is that I was never happy with the original colour shot. It was lacking that ever so hard to define something that makes photos 'pop'. The initial photo was taken on St. Patrick's Day 2008 - so about a year and a half ago. Since then I've become a hell of a lot more practised at post-processing, so, this evening I had another go at processing this shot, this time keeping it in colour.

After some tweaking of the blue channel and some selective contrast adjustments with Aperture's Dodge & Burn plugin I'm now happy enough with the shot to use it as a Photo of the week. I guess the lesson here is never to be afraid to go back and re-edit your old images.

Lunar Cross (Colour)
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/250 sec
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/22
  • ISO: 800
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority

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I fell in love with this shot the moment I saw it importing into iPhoto. I'm not even sure it's technically a good photo, but I just love it.

I took this shot from St. Mary's Square on the grounds of St. Patrick's College (AKA the NUI Maynooth South Campus). For those of you who've visited the campus, that's the square with the cool water garden in it next to the College chapel. I've always loved the architecture of the buildings around this square, and in particular these little sun-roofs. You have these little sunroofs on both St. Mary's and St. Patrick's House, but these ones are on St. Patrick's House. It was quite hard to get this shot without getting a wet foot, but I eventually managed to line everything up correctly and get the shot, even if I was at quite a stretch.

The Moon over Maynooth
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/400 sec
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Focal Ratio: F22
  • ISO: 800
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.76

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Photo of the Week 47 – Into the Night

Filed Under Photography on January 11, 2009 | 3 Comments

As a friend of mine put it on Flickr, this photo combines my three nerdy hobbies, Astronomy, Photography, and trains. This is a 5 second exposure of a commuter train approaching Maynooth reflected in the waters of the Royal Canal in the late evening while Venus & the Moon shine over-head. This is a shot I'd tried before, and each time I learned a few more valuable lessons. So, although this is the result of a learning experience, I'm still shocked at how lucky I was to get everything to line up as well as it did. The train, the reflection, the silhouette of the tree, those things I could control, but the positions of the Moon and Venus, those were a pure bonus! Anyhow, if I had to pick my three best photos yet, this is one I'd definitely choose.

Into the Night
on Flickr - Full-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 5 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: F5
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Manual
  • Exposure Bias: -2.0

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Last Monday (1 December 2008), the Moon, Jupiter & Venus were in a very close conjunction in the sky. For the non-astronomers amongst you that just means they were very closely placed in the sky. In fact, they were so close that Venus actually passed behind the Moon! This week's photo of the week if my favourite shot of the event, you can see the rest of my shots in this Flickr Set.

This week's photo of the week was taken not long after Venus re-appeared from behind the Moon. You can see it just off to the right of the think crescent Moon. Jupiter is the bright point of light above and to the right of the Moon.

Jupiter, Venus & Moon Conjunction
on Flickr - Full-Size

For those of you interested in such things, here are the technical details of this shot:

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1.5 sec
  • Focal Length: 70mm
  • Focal Ratio: F4.5
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Compensation: -1.0

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I took this shot back in December last year as the sun was setting after work. This shot was taken as a very special time of the day, when you can expose both the landscape and the Moon correctly in a single exposure.

The shot shows the Moon over the Gunne Chapel (AKA the College Chapel) on the campus of St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland. This campus is also shared with NUI Maynooth.


Click to Enlarge

For those of you interested in such things here are some of the technical details of the shot:

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/200 sec
  • Focal Length: 45mm
  • Focal Ratio: F5.6
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Compensation: 0.0

[tags]Photography, Maynooth, Ireland, Moon, church, spire[/tags]

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Although planning and preparation are very important in photography, some of the best shots are still happy coincidences. This is the perfect example of such a shot. I thought I'd figured out the exact shot I wanted so I was making my way to the spot I'd chosen very carefully when I glint of reflected moonlight hit my eye. I stopped my bike immediately and managed to get this shot after a few attempts.

I took this shot not long after sunset on an evening early last month from the edge of the playing fields on the campus of St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, Ireland.


Click to Enlarge

For those of you interested in such things here are some of the technical details of the shot:

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 6 Sec
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Focal Ratio: F4.2
  • ISO: 800
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Compensation: 0.0

[tags]Maynooth, Ireland, Moon, Reflection[/tags]

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This photo was taken on the evening of the 18th of June 2007 on the playing fields on the South Campus of NUI Maynooth. The playing fields are large open grass areas for sport surrounded by wonderful old trees. This photo was taken just as twilight was ending when the Moon and Venus were very close together in the sky.


Click to View Full-Size (1.6MB)

For those of you interested in such things here are some of the technical details of the shot:

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/30 Sec
  • Focal Length: 34mm
  • Focal Ratio: F5.6
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Compensation: -1

[tags]Ireland, Maynooth, NUI Maynooth, Venus, Moon[/tags]

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Having set myself the challenge of observing all the planets with a pair of 10x50mm binoculars I bought in Lidle for €19 this year I got to tick another one off my list today, Jupiter. I now just need Mars and the two difficult ones, Uranus & Neptune. Although Jupiter is the only one I get to cross off my list today I did get to observe many more planets, in fact, I observed all the planets bar the three I'm missing!

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I observed the eclipse from the end of the umbral phase when you could start to see some limb darkening through to the middle of totality. There were three of us to start with, myself, my better half and a mate, but since I set the telescope up in the driveway we soon had a collection of passers by having a look through the telescope and the binoculars and we wowed a few of the more interested ones with a quick glance of Saturn. One of our neighbors came round for a few looks and brought us some beers as a thank you (cheers Michael, much appreciated). All in all it was a good observing session and the things that we noticed were:

  • That there was a blue tint on the edge of the umbral shadow
  • That even during maximum eclipse the moon wasn't very red, more orange
  • That even during maximum eclipse we could easily make out the larger seas with the naked eye, with binoculars loads of surface features were easily visible, and with the telescope even lunar rays were easy to see.
  • The top edge of the moon was always that bit less dark than the rest.

This would lead me to the conclusion that this eclipse was at point 4 on the Danjon scale, i.e. the least dark kind of lunar eclipse. The fact that the earth didn't pass through the center of the Moon's shadow probably played a part in this as did the fact that we've had no major volcanic activity recently.

All in all it was a great nights observing with no real weather problems, we had the occasional whisp of high cloud but they passed by very quickly. The most important thing was that a good night was had by all.

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