Desktop Project Part 13: Backyard Orion

The entire universe in blog form
April 7 2012 11:00 AM

Desktop Project Part 13: Backyard Orion

[This is another in a series of posts I'm doing to help me clear off the zillions of cool astronomy pictures I have sitting on my computer desktop. The difference this time? I took this one!]

On Friday night, February 24, 2012, the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter made a pretty line in the sky. I took some pictures as they were setting to the west, but there was a show to the south, too: the constellation of Orion was standing straight and tall over the roof of my house, so I took a quick shot of that, as well:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

[Click to enhunternate.]

Not bad, eh? That's a 13 second exposure with my point-and-shoot camera mounted on a tripod. I just aimed it and took this one picture (right after I took this we had to get dinner started, and the kitchen light illuminates my back yard so I couldn't shoot any more). Sometimes astrophotography is pretty easy! Now, I wouldn't submit this shot to a professional site or anything, but given how least-effort it was I'm happy to post it here.

And it's not terrible. In the bigger version you can see star colors -- Betelgeuse (Orion's right shoulder) and Aldebaran (to the upper right) are both clearly orange, and you can see the blue in Rigel. Look below Orion's belt; in his, um, dagger you can see the fuzzy Orion Nebula, shining slightly pink. Look to the lower left: there's Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, peeking through the trees.

It doesn't take crazy fancy expensive equipment to take pictures that you can enjoy. Sure, I'd love to have a $4000 camera with telephoto and pro tripod, but even with a modest camera it's not impossible to capture the skies. And with Venus still shining madly in the west right now after sunset, even folks in big cities can get interesting pictures of it. If you have a camera, give it a shot!



Related posts:

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.