Paranal, February 2014

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Green flash

Sunday, February 2nd 2014

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The fabled green flash happens sometimes when the atmosphere refracts the sun's light in just the right way at sunset. I watch the sunset every single night that I'm at Paranal, unless there's something I have to be doing at that moment, and usually the sun sets with no hint of green. People on the platform usually say something about how they see it much more often at La Silla, but I didn't see it there either.

Tonight, I didn't see the flash by eye, but I caught it on camera nevertheless. A strip of green floated above the rest of the orange disk, too faint for me to notice it but there without any doubt.

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Crescent moon

Sunday, February 2nd 2014

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My photography set up is not very good for moon shots - I use a very old and cheap Olympus 400/5.6 lens with Canon adapter, and the lens has awful contrast and sharpness. But with some luck and some post processing, the moon still comes out OK.

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Star trails and geostationary satellites

Tuesday, February 4th 2014

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Normally when making star trail photographs, I take lots of short exposures and stack them together. Today I tried it the old fashioned way just for a change, and did a single exposure for two and a bit hours - the battery ran out before it got to the intended three hours. The benefit of doing it this way was that geostationary satellites show up in the long exposure as bright spots along the celestial equator.

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Sunspots

Tuesday, February 4th 2014

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Solar activity has been unusually low recently but today there were some nice sunspots visible at sunset. I didn't use a filter for this photograph - my very slow 400mm f/5.6 lens plus the thickness of the atmosphere between me and the sun at sunset did the job well enough.

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Sunset shapes

Tuesday, February 4th 2014

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No sunspots to be seen on the sun's surface today, but at least a turbulent atmosphere made it go crazy shapes at sunset.

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Laser fire

Thursday, February 6th 2014

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UT4 is equipped with a laser. It creates an artificial star from which the way the atmosphere is moving can be measured, and then corrected for in real time by distorting the telescope mirror. It's incredible technology which allows amazingly sharp images to be taken, and it also looks extremely cool from out on the platform.

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Southern Cross over Yepun and Melipal

Friday, February 7th 2014

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Everyone's favourite southern constellation over two of the telescopes at Paranal, with the Coalsack Nebula, the Eta Carina nebula, and the two Magellanic Clouds also visible.

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Trails over Melipal and Yepun

Saturday, February 8th 2014

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Star trails over two of the four telescopes which make up the VLT. To make this image I stacked 750 individual photos, each one a 20s exposure at ISO 400, using a 24mm lens at f/1.4.

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Hubble over UT3

Monday, February 10th 2014

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Spotting Hubble going over is always nice. It's not so easy to see - you can't miss the International Space Station when it goes over, but Hubble is much smaller and fainter. It also orbits a bit lower so it's often crossing the sky in twilight. Tonight, though, it was already quite dark when I caught it going over UT3.

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