Twilight Observing

Posted in Lessons I Learned, My Astrophotography on September 2, 2013 – 9:30 PM
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For many newcomers to astronomy it is difficult to visualize the constellations.  How do they fit together in the sky?  What stars are the markers?  And even for experienced stargazers, a new location can be disorienting.  Constellations move across the sky season by season and throughout the night.  And things towards the poles move much slower than on the celestial equator.  While the sky is darkening, take advantage of that short period where the bright stars are out.  Constellations are best seen when looking at just the brightest stars.

Take this photograph taken August 31 at about 8:30pm from the coast of North Carolina.  At the location, the shore to the sound faces nearly due south.

A late twilight view facing south from the coast of North Carolina

A late twilight view facing south from the coast of North Carolina


Click the image to see it larger.  Looking close, the asterism many see as the teapot is in the upper half, just left of center.  The brilliant orange star is Antares indicating Scorpius is present.  This area of the sky is filled with gems.  The milky way runs right through the area with many star clusters and nebulae.  This same image, with lines drawn for the constellations, is here:

Outlines of constellations become clear when there aren't so many stars to obscure the shape!

Outlines of constellations become clear when there aren’t so many stars to obscure the shape!

Now annotated, this same 10 second image (camera was allowed to collect light for 10 seconds) shows a lot more.  What a great view of constellations rather far south.  Many of the brightest objects in sagittarius can be seen (not possible with unaided eye).  Also, the lesser known constellation named Corona Australis, a “C” shape is clear.  Even the very southern 2 star constellation named Telescopium is visible.

Allowing another 15 minutes for darkness to set in, a longer exposure could be had.  And what beauty we find in this part of the sky.  It takes long exposure photography to see this much detail, but even your eye can make out some features in the sky.  Bincoluars are a great tool if you get a clear southern horizon during the summer as well.

The Milky Way to the south

The Milky Way to the south




This entry was written by matted, filed under Lessons I Learned, My Astrophotography.
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