Josef “Jeff” Sipek

2015 Lunar Eclipse

You may remember that there was a lunar eclipse back on September 27th, 2015. That evening, I set up our 90mm refractor telescope (1000mm focal length, f/11) in the driveway and spend a fair amount of time sitting on the ground. I used a t-mount adapter to mount my Nikon D70 instead of an eyepiece—effectively using the telescope as a big lens. (This is called prime focus photography.) Every minute, I took a shot of the moon hoping to make a collage. It took me nine months, but I finally remembered to do it.

(4 MB full size image—8750 by 1750 pixels)

To keep the overall image aspect ratio reasonable, I ended up using every sixth image. Therefore, each step is six minutes apart and the whole sequence spans about 42 minutes. Each of the photos was taken at ISO 1600, which the D70’s CCD does not handle very well, hence the noise.

I am looking forward to the next total lunar eclipse. It should be a whole lot easier to do with a modern camera like the D750. Sadly, it will be a while before there is another total lunar eclipse on the east coast of United States.

Venus Transit (2004)

The recent transit of Venus made me dig up some old photos. Specifically, those from the 2004 transit of the very same planet. The quality is pretty poor since we were just hand-holding the cameras (Canon Digital Rebel and a cheap point and shoot) near the telescope eyepiece. It was a pretty nice day…


…with the moon getting ready to set…


…and Venus moving in front of the Sun…

venus transit


This is essentially a follow up to a previous post.

As it turns out, the big gray-ish blob commonly referred to as Luna, or even more commonly referred to as the Moon, is still there. As always, it seems to hide about once every 4 weeks.

The other day, I read somewhere that the moon was going to appear bigger than usual. When I got home, I ran outside, saw that it wasn’t cloudy, and took a bunch of photos of the moon. I spend a grand total of about 4 minutes outside before the -8C air got too much for my fingers to control the camera well.

Here are the spoils of war. Just as in the earlier post, these are taken at the 300mm end of my 70-300 zoom, which on my D70 is equivalent to 450mm on 35mm film.

They were all taken at f/5.6, with either 1/640 or 1/800 second exposure.

I should try to use a tripod one day, take a burst of 1/800 exposures, and then try to stack them in software. (I know people use webcams though telescopes and hundreds of exposures to get decent images, so it should work just as well with an SLR.)

Luna Luna Luna

Lunar Eclipse - photos

As I have mentioned earlier, there was a lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, I was unable to get away from the light poluted skies of New York, and so I spend the 4 hours in the backyard. Here are some highlights…

It was quite cloudy during the first half of the eclipse, so the “darkening” shots look pretty bad.


Something eating the moon!


I got a little bored, so I tried to take a photo of the Orion Nebula. Not quite all that good :) Even the 30 second exposure shows noticable amount of rotation of the Earth.



It was quite difficult to get a good shot of the part of the moon still in the shadow. This was a 1 second exposure, f/5.6. From the noise, I guess it was at least ISO 800…I’m a bit too lazy to check :)

The moon is coming back!


But I tried again….

Ewww…ugly noise


…and again.

Ewww…ugly noise - again!

But, if I resize the image to  50% of the original size, it doesn’t look all that bad!

Ewww…ugly noise


Aaaaand, here’s what the moon looked like after the whole thing. Back to normal :) 1/500 second exposure at f/9 with ISO 200.

Yay! Back to normal

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