It was a cold, clear, dark night ...

March 8, 2017

... and a perfect night for astrophotography. Having been house bound for the past four days with knee and shoulder problems, I was totally bored and craving an opportunity to do any photography. After a nonproductive evening being a couch potato and watching the latest episode of Black Sails in my darkened living room, I casually glanced out my window and spotted Jupiter rising through the tree branches and just above a distant hilltop.

 As you can see from the daytime view from my couch, the many tree branches don't make for ideal sky viewing. However, as a popular new song says it's ... "the difference between what should be and what's so".

When opportunity arises make the most of it.

 

I turned off my TV, my computer monitor and a single small lamp to darken the room. Unfortunately, the backlit keys on my two laptops and the glowing leds on my ten external hard drives and power strips still lit up my office area like the cockpit of a 747 casting both glare and flare on my window. Not an ideal shooting situation but still workable. I made myself a large mug of hot coffee, turned some good music on the BlueTooth stereo headphones and with a 75-300 mm zoom lens on my Olympus E-M5 Mark II camera set up on a rickety old Slik tripod I pointed it at the rising Jupiter through my dirty double pane window.

 

Jupiter was just a tiny dot in the camera frame even when viewed through the telephoto lens (600 mm equivalent on a full frame camera). As it rose, Jupiter was frequently obscured as it passed behind the numerous tree branches just outside my window. The lighting conditions were also poor. My building has very bright outdoor security lights and I overlook a major busy road in the middle of the village. So I had outdoor light pollution, indoor flare on the window from all my computer lighting and I was shooting through branches and limbs moving in the gusty winds. I also had to manually focus on Jupiter.

 

None the less I was happy with the resulting images I was able to capture. In the below photo one of my "better" images is shown on the left verses a computer simulation (generated using the Stellarium star map program) for Jupiter and four of its moons for the same time my image was taken.

 Yes, the image quality is poor in my photo but about the best I could expect giving the poor viewing conditions. My alternative would have been to drive 15 miles to an open field in the "wilderness" of a Westchester park to avoid the light pollution and my dirty window. But again as the song says "it's the difference between what should be and what's so".

 

 

 

 

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