A Different Kind Of Time Lapse

“Don’t you get bored,” Stef asked after seeing my latest time lapse. In a way she’s right. Just clouds passing by.

On the other hand you can actually watch and see physics in action! Everything happening is happening for a well defined reason.

Tonight is the full moon and we’re close to perigee. That makes the Moon big and bright and very visible as it moves past the window.

I like this one especially. I like the night.

full moon time lapse

The Explosion On The Moon

moon impact frames

NASA scientists have just seen the largest explosion on the Moon since they started looking for them eight years ago! At 4th magnitude brightness, an explosion earlier today (UTC) would have been visible to the naked eye.

It’s obvious the Moon has been pelted with meteorites and other space junk over the uncounted millenium. Most of us think of those events in the past, not present. That’s wrong.

More objects hit the Earth than Moon because of our much greater size and gravity. Most burn up in our atmosphere. The Moon has no atmosphere. Anything plunging to its surface will make it down intact.

Ron Suggs, an analyst at the Marshall Space Flight Center, was the first to notice the impact in a digital video recorded by one of the monitoring program’s 14-inch telescopes. “It jumped right out at me, it was so bright,” he recalls.

The 40 kg meteoroid measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide hit the Moon traveling 56,000 mph. The resulting explosion packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT.

For the metrically challenged, that around 90 pounds and a foot wide. In other words, a good sized rock. NASA will now look closely at the impact site, hoping to see a new crater 50 or 60 feet across.

At the same time the Moon was getting hit, an ‘all-sky’ camera in Ontario noted a cluster a deep-penetrating atmospheric hits here on Earth. The paths line up. They are all most likely from the same source.

IDL TIFF fileThat’s not unexpected. Meteor showers, like Perseids or Orionids, which never make it to the Earth’s surface, often hit the Moon too. The image on the left shows impacts from the last eight yeas.

This is another impediment to sending men back to the Moon. Space is incredibly perilous.

Moon Video That’s Even Better Than The Eclipse

I have never seen the Moon like this–never seen its motion so beautifully presented.

I stumbled upon the video at the bottom of this entry earlier tonight. I was already committed to talking about the lunar eclipse. No way to work this in without a great deal of explanation. I’ll share it on the blog.

Here’s the background (read as much as you want or scroll down to the video player–the video’s still cool):

The Moon always keeps the same face to us, but not exactly the same face. Because of the tilt and shape of its orbit, we see the Moon from slightly different angles over the course of a month. When a month is compressed into 12 seconds, as it is in this animation, our changing view of the Moon makes it look like it’s wobbling. This wobble is called libration.

The word comes from the Latin for “balance scale” (as does the name of the zodiac constellation Libra) and refers to the way such a scale tips up and down on alternating sides. The sub-Earth point gives the amount of libration in longitude and latitude. The sub-Earth point is also the apparent center of the Moon’s disk and the location on the Moon where the Earth is directly overhead.

The Moon is subject to other motions as well. It appears to roll back and forth around the sub-Earth point. The roll angle is given by the position angle of the axis, which is the angle of the Moon’s north pole relative to celestial north. The Moon also approaches and recedes from us, appearing to grow and shrink. The two extremes, called perigee (near) and apogee (far), differ by more than 10%.

The most noticed monthly variation in the Moon’s appearance is the cycle of phases, caused by the changing angle of the Sun as the Moon orbits the Earth. The cycle begins with the waxing (growing) crescent Moon visible in the west just after sunset. By first quarter, the Moon is high in the sky at sunset and sets around midnight. The full Moon rises at sunset and is high in the sky at midnight. The third quarter Moon is often surprisingly conspicuous in the daylit western sky long after sunrise.

The video is actually an animation with one frame per hour. I have never seen the Moon like this–never seen its motion so beautifully presented.

[jwplayer mediaid=”10610″]

video courtesy: Goddard Space Flight Center

How I Shot The Moon

Truth is if I took my Canon Xsi and set it on auto it would produce the same type of shot you get from a point and shoot–overexposed and a little blurry.

I went out and shot the Moon last night. A reasonably pedestrian shot, but it got a bunch of comments on Facebook and Twitter. That’s probably because lots of people try to shoot the Moon with little success. I’ll give you my secrets.

If you’ve got a camera that’s full automatic you’re screwed! The moon will be white and totally featureless. Sorry.

However, it’s possible your camera isn’t as automatic as you think! Lots of point and shoot cameras also have manual modes or ways to play with the settings a little.

My shot is underexposed! Well, it is to the on-camera metering system.

The Moon is small enough in the field of view that the camera is willing to think it’s an anomaly and set-up for what’s in the rest of the frame–black! I told the camera, “use your judgement then subtract two f/stops.” That made the finished product darker than what auto called for.

Even with my 200mm lens the Moon was small in the frame. I cropped the shot with Photoshop. You can easily crop or cut away the unimportant parts of shots with Picasa , from Google and free, or at Picnik.com, also free.

Cropping a photo is almost like zooming in farther. You’ll be showing part of the frame in the same space you’d normally show all of it. That exaggerates any motion and increases the chance of a blurry shot. To combat that I set my shutter speed reasonably high at 1/640 second and mounted my camera on a monopod for extra stability.

No monopod or tripod? Sit the camera on a stationary object like a car or a fence. Lean up against a tree or building. If you’ve got a jacket use that to cushion and steady the camera and give yourself a little more latitude in where it’s pointed.

I wasn’t confident my lens would properly focus on the moon so I focused manually. I’m not sure if that helped, but I was more confident in my abilities that its.

This photo was sharpened after it was downloaded to my PC. Almost all my photos are. Again, this is something Picasa and Picnik both provide which really help. Sharpening a photo a little can make it pop out at you.

When I post photos I’ll often be asked what kind of camera I used. Truth is if I took my Canon Xsi and set it on auto it would produce the same type of shot you get from a point and shoot–overexposed and a little blurry. Spending a few seconds to manually adjust can make a world of difference.

Super Moon Over Connecticut (Photos)

I turned to the east at 7:23 and right on schedule…. nothing. That’s not right. The Moon is always on time!

I would have written this a few minutes ago, but I wanted to wait until the feeling returned to my fingers! Spring may be under 24 hours away, but winter isn’t done yet. It was windy and cold as I made my way to Quinnipiac University’s York Hill Campus.

Tonight is the night of the “Super Moon.” The Moon is full while it and Earth are at their closest point. It’s unusual for both those things to happen simultaneously.

I know enough to know it wasn’t going to be spectacular, but it would be nice.

Moonrise was scheduled for 7:23 PM. “What are you waiting for,” Helaine asked a few minutes before 7:00?

It only takes five minutes to get from here to there. Within the first thirty seconds I knew what I’d been waiting for–warmth.

I first stopped behind the fieldhouse to take a few twilight shots of New Haven. A security officer showed up thirty seconds later. He’d noticed me driving beyond the “No Vehicles…” sign.

I’m lucky. He was nice about it. I got to take my shots before moving on.

There were a few other people waiting at the top of QU’s hill as I crossed from the parking lot to the easternmost overlook on this new campus. I could see other folks even higher up near Quinnipiac’s Windspire Wind Farm.

Yes, electricity was being produced tonight. Lots of electricity.

With a few minutes still to pass I turned toward Lockwood Farm down in the valley below. The silo… it’s a cell tower! Is nothing sacred?

I turned to the east at 7:23 and right on schedule…. nothing. That’s not right. The Moon is always on time!

I waited. Still nothing. Maybe the Moon was behind Sleeping Giant Mountain?

As it turned out though we had no clouds overhead there were a few on the horizon. The Moon began to poke through around 7:30.

It’s a little larger. It’s a little brighter. It’s still the full moon. If no one would have talked about it being oversized tonight you wouldn’t have known it!

I, on the other hand, am thinking of soaking in a hot tub. It’s still winter!

Pretty Moon

Just the Moon.

After our rock and roll weather today the Moon looked pretty hanging over the trees. Nothing else to see. Just the Moon.