Moon, Mars and a meteor over Minette Bay (plus other celestial wonders)

The moon and Mars rise over Minette Bay, Kitimat, BC, as a meteor streaks over head. You can see Saturn on the far right (Robin Rowland)

This week is a stargazer’s delight. Mars is at its closest approach to Earth, and that means the Red Planet is the brightest it will be from July 27 to July 31 (the latter date is when Mars is actually the closest). Although North America missed the solar eclipse earlier this week, the moon is actually at its smallest, sometimes called a Buck Moon. The giant planets Saturn and Jupiter are high in the southern sky this week. Earlier in the month, Venus was visible as the Evening Star and for those with the proper gear it was possible to get a glance of Mercury.

Kitimat is in the midst of the summer heat wave that is gripping most of North America. Nights are mostly clear although there is some high haze from smoke in the atmosphere stemming from the forest fires in both Siberia and North America.

With all that I drove out to the Kitimat Viewpoint late Saturday July 28,  to capture it all.

Gear
Apps (for Android)
The Photographer’s Emphemeris
– told me when the moon will rise and the angle of location. Note: TPE gives moonrise at sea level. That means moonrise in Kitimat is usually between 50 and 70 minutes later depending on where it comes up over the mountains.
A compass app. To check the compass direction of the moonrise as predicted by TPE.
Sky Map. Android app originally developed by Google. Hold up you phone and see location of stars, planets, nebulae, satellite etc.

Camera
Heavy duty Manfrotto tripod
with
Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 17 to 35mm wide angle lens
Mounted with Cokin P121L Neutral density filter (to reduce the glare from the moon)

Handheld
Sony RX10iii

Jupiter and Saturn over Douglas Channel

Jupiter over the Rio Tinto aluminum plant (right) and Saturn (left)  over the mountains above Kitamaat Village, about an hour after sunset (Robin Rowland)

The late summer dusk lingers for more than hour after sunset, so even the distant mountains of Douglas Channel can be seen.  Jupiter is bright over the Rio Tinto plant at 10:50:33

Sony Alpha 77 ISO 4000 F2.8  1/2.5 of a second

Moonrise

Moonrise over Minette Bay. (Robin Rowland)

 

The moon is about to rise above the mountain (Robin Rowland)

 

The first arc of the moon peeked over the mountaintop at about 10:57:40.

The first image in the photoblog was taken at 11:00:23 and the second at 11::02:27

Sony RX10iii, handheld, ISO 4000 f4 1/1000 of a second

The RX1oiii is a high-end carry everywhere point and shoot. Moon was shot at 600mm on manual focus.

 

The moon reaches for the zenith. (Robin Rowland)

Same settings on the RX10iii at 11:06:50.

 

Mars rises

 

Mars rose to the west of the moon at 11:17:08 This image showing the moon, Mars and Minette Bay Lodge was taken 11:18:35.

Sony Alpha 77, manual focus,  ISO 2500, f5 at 2.5 seconds

At 11:23:31 same settings

 

 

I was bracketing shots, working with different shutter speeds and other settings, still on manual focus.  The meteor streak is in just two frames. This was taken at 11:37:05. (The other at 11:36:58 by 11:37:00 the next frame it was gone. I did not notice the meteor streak until I got home.

Alpha 77 ISO 1600, f3.2 at 2.5 seconds

A last look at Jupiter

Jupiter over the Kitimat mountains and the Rio Tinto plant. (Robin Rowland)

At 11:34:02 Jupiter is setting over the mountains behind the Rio Tinto aluminum plant.

Sony Alpha 77  ISO 1600  f2.8 2.5 seconds

 

Icy nights, Venus, Mars and the moon

Mars (top center) and Venus set over the mountains of Kitimat #BC with the snow illuminated by the light of 93 per cent gibbous moon. Taken on a cold clear -23C windchill night ISO 8000 1/60 f4.5, January 11, 2017 (Robin Rowland)

The first two weeks of January in Kitimat were cold and clear as an arctic outflow stalled over the Pacific Coast.  A friend back east posted a shot of Venus, and I looked out the window and there the planet was clear in the night sky.

For the next few days (except a couple of times it was too cloudy) I got out in the frigid night air


Venus and the waxing crescent moon (9.1 per cent) over Kitimat on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

Venus and the waxing moon over the light of Kitimat, January 1. 2017.

Venus and the waxing moon now at 15.9 per cent over Douglas Channel, January 2, 2017 (Robin Rowland)’

The view a few minutes later as the sky darkened. (Robin Rowland)

 

The waxing moon and Venus over Kitimat, January 3, 2017  (Robin Rowland)

 

Venus by herself sometime later. (Robin Rowland)

The waxing crescent at 31 per cent on January 4, 2017.  (Robin Rowland)

 


The first quarter waxing moon on January 8. Taken through my bedroom window as the skies cleared with an old Lumix FZ50 standby camera I keep there. Shot at IS0 800 and is a bit noisy (camera vintage is 2005) so converted the image to black and white. (Robin Rowland)

The 93 per cent gibbous moon that illuminated the mountains to the west on January 11, 2017. (Robin Rowland)