April is astronomy month! Astronomy is the study of everything beyond the earth’s atmosphere (more or less), and it’s a science. It is also a way of understanding and appreciating the beauty and complexity of nature in a way that is both rich with experiences and endlessly fascinating. Many people equate astronomy with telescopes, but it’s not necessary to have a telescope – or even use one – to appreciate the sky and even to photograph its beauty. Here’s a case in point, a photo of the western sky over Lake Huron that captures hundreds of stars too faint to see with the naked eye, and also a famous galaxy and a current comet!
For weeks I’ve been hoping to get some photos of Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) and I finally got some satisfying shots on the evening of Friday 5 April 2013. I kept track of the clear sky charts for Ontario that day, and, realizing that the comet was getting close to the Andromeda Galaxy (so should be easier to find) and that it was setting soon after sunset in the west, I decided to try shooting from “Ontario’s West Coast” – the shore of Lake Huron. I arrived at about 7 PM at the gracious home of my friends Margaret and Gordon Cale, who gave me a hand on that very cold evening to try seeing what could be seen out over the lake, and we set up a telescope and camera on the shore. I wasn’t ale to get too far with the telescope, but started shooting with the dSLR about a half hour after sunset. I knew approximately where the comet should have been, but I couldn’t see it with my own eyes. I had to rely on time exposures on the camera to pick it out.
It was a cold but beautiful night, and I was able to get several photos of the comet and the Andromeda Galaxy to its left.
To close off this post, here’s another shot taken on Friday 5 April 2013 at Pine River: the magnificent Constellation Orion (with its brightest or second brightest star, depending on circumstances, Betelgeuse, glowing orange at the left) and the brightly overexposed planet Jupiter over the south-western horizon of Lake Huron. Not a bad start for Astronomy Month 2013, but there’s more to come!
Copyright © David Allan Galbraith 2013