astro, history, nature, night, photography, travel, world

A space trip

Andromeda galaxy – the galaxy next door – only 2.5 million lightyears away

This past week, the Canadian actor William Shatner flew to space after getting invited by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.  At the age of 90, he finally crossed the so-called final frontier. Shatner got famous for playing Captain James Tiberius Kirk from 1966 to 1969 in 79 episodes of the US TV series “Star Trek”. Later, he took over the role again in a couple of sequel cinema movies.

Although NASA investigated space travel and space exploration at that time, I assume, William Shatner never ever assumed to be once in space himself. He was an actor playing with other actors in a movie studio set-up like a (at that time) hyper-modern and futuristic command bridge of a star sheep. But, times are turning. “Being” the captain of a spaceship made him famous and can be considered as the foundation of his international career. Although there were a couple of further movies dedicated to space travel at that time, I’d consider this one as the archetype of space exploration movies. In my opinion, the egalitarian philosophy (gender and skin color are not important at all – for that time, these sets were extremely progressive although you can see from today’s point of view, that there is room for more) among crew members as well as between crew and aliens: observe but not interfere.

On Twitter, I saw a screenshot showing Shatner after having left the spaceship and quoting him, that would have been the dream of his life. Another commenter was quite upset about it. Why he could have done this at that age and it would have been better, a scientist or at least a younger person were shot to space.

I can understand Shatner and why he had not refused to accept the invitation. Since I’m a child I’m interested in space exploration. In my children’s room, I had a huge poster on one of the walls showing the Space Shuttle in all of its glory while riding on a cushion of fire and smoke up to the stars. I’m admiring the images taken from outside of our planet showing our planet, stars, or deep-sky objects. Over the years a couple of books found their way onto my bookshelf, starting from my childhood. Jesco von Puttkammer and Carl Sagan are among the authors and in the 1990s I started collecting digital images published by NASA on their quite new web page. One of the most impressive images I’ve ever seen is the rising earth about the moon surface taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the Moon. You see the image on the NASA homepage. When I’d get such an opportunity, I’d try everything to be part of that special party. My perfect destination would be a stay at ISS for a couple of days. I’m so jealous of Alexander Gerst (Astro Alex) and the views he had during his spare time on ISS. You can see some of the images he took while on ISS on Twitter.

I know, I will never ever get such an invitation. Nor will I ever have enough money to pay for my own tourist’s flight. And, to be honest, currently, these tourist flights are only up to about 106 km above sea level and allow only a very short stay. The flight up and down lasts longer than the stay. So, it’s more like a “hey, I was there” than enjoying the experience.

On the other hand, it’s a huge amount of waste and pollution necessary for making such a trip possible.

I took that image above showing the Andromeda galaxy in February this year. I’m not totally happy with the result, but I guess, it’s quite ok. Photographing deep-sky objects from the earth is very challenging. They are not very bright, but very small and light pollution is a serious problem. OK, when knowing where and when to look, you can recognize Andromeda with your bare eyes as a tiny patch different in size, brightness, and color than the surrounding stars. But it’s still a challenge photographing it and for having a view, I’d definitely recommend using a binocular or better a stabilized telescope.

Take care!

art, astro, long exposure, night, photo-of-the-day, photography, postprocessing, star, travel, winter, world

Throwback Thursday: Orion Nebula

As I proposed last week: the Orion nebula. Orion, the hunter, is present in the winter sky in the northern hemisphere and the nebula can be found in the sword hanging. Orion is located left of the Pleiades.

You can see the nebula even with your bare eyes, but better with a spyglass or a telescope.

Take care!

art, astro, long exposure, night, photo-of-the-day, photography, postprocessing, star, travel, winter, world

Throwback Thursday: A path to the stars ….

… or on my way to Orion.

I was out that night for photographing the Orion nebula a couple of days ago (ok, literally it’s two weeks tomorrow). It’s located in the sword hanging of Orion right ahead. I liked the situation, how the path leads you directly to Orion. So, I took a wide-angel image first. Next week, I’m showing you the nebula.

You can easily see, how much light pollution we have here. And this is a location with only very little light pollutions in comparison to the situation in the wider area. You might remember my complaints from the past i.e. when I talked about the comet Neowise.

Take care!

astro, landscape, nature, night, photo-of-the-day, photography, star, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: a rare visitor

Currently, we have a rare visitor from outer space next to us: comet Neowise

Here, where I live the conditions are quite bad for astrophotography. In the past, I already told you a couple of times, light pollution is a serious problem all over Europe and especially here in my region because of the big cities Cologne, Leverkusen, Wuppertal, Dortmund, Bochum, Essen and the rest of the Metropolregion Ruhr Area emits so much light even to the sky that you can see hardly any stars at night. When looking up to the stars, you could count them on 3 or four hands.

The second problem is the time of the year. In July sunset is very late and sunrise very early. and in the time between the sky is still a bit enlighted from the sun, even it is already below the horizon: the twilight zone. The above image is taken at 23:45! The sunset was at 21:42  and the sunrise at 5:30.

The third problem is the direction: the comet is located in the north-western direction. The western part of the sky is the part, where the sun sets and where the bright parts remain the longest. (in addition to the huge lights from the cities in that direction, as long as they are less than 70km away)

An we have a fourth problem: during summer the moisture in the air is much higher than in winter. So, thin cloud layers in the upper sky filter some lights. Winter nights are much better for astrophotography.

During the first two weeks when Neowise was already visible from the earth we were left out because of bad weather. But, last Sunday the weather was great at daytime and that was quite proposing for a try and I did, even the could forecast for the night wasn’t good. Nevertheless, I tried. Although I read, the comet should be visible with the bare eye, I was unable to see him. The first photo instead made him visible! Hooray! A second try during the next night, unfortunately, didn’t bring better results despite the cloud forecast was better. Reality proofed the forecast wrong. So, I’m still hoping for a third chance. But the weather forecast proposes lots of rain and clouds for the next weeks. I guess I won’t see him again.

Take care!


astro, landscape, nature, night, photo-of-the-day, photography, summer, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: an alignment among giants

Earlier this week the two biggest planets of our solar system were next to each other: Saturn (the left bright spot in the sky) and Jupiter (the brightest spot in the sky).

They were in opposition to the sun (Jupiter on July 13th and Saturn on July 20th), meaning, they were well illuminated by the sun and positioned in the darkest part of the sky (look in eastern direction).

Both of them are quite close to earth at the moment because of the track they follow around the sun.

Take care!


astro, landscape, long exposure, nature, photography, star, world

Throwback Thursday: Blood-moon 2019

On Monday early morning last week sun, earth and moon were lined up again. While crossing the shadow of earth the should vanish from the sky for some time. But, instead of vanishing you can see a descending moon during the time, when the moon is immersing in the shadow. Later, you can observe an ascending moon, while the moon is living the earth shadow. When the moon is completely in the shadow, you could guess, you were unable to see it. But, instead of seeing a moonless sky a full-moon, you can see a low-red glowing moon in the sky, where shortly before the full-moon was visible. In 2015 I took images of the pages and composed them into a single overview image. You can see it here in my blog, too. The long-wave red lights are able to surround the planet earth and touch the moon in the shadow of earth and illuminate it with this low red light. A wonderful experience, despite -8°C and getting up at 4:30 a.m.

This time, I didn’t take photos all night. Instead, I checked a location in advance for a single shot: blood-moon over the nightly landscape.

This was my 4th try for photographing a blood-moon. and I’m satisfied with the result. The first try was many years ago with very bad results. the camera was simply too bad for such a job. The second try was in 2015, as you can see here. The third try was in summer 2018, but there was a huge cloud field in front of the moon. So, I missed it. The next opportunity for middle Europe seems to be Dec.20th, 2029. I guess, we won’t see it here because of bad weather.

Take care!

art, astro, landscape, long exposure, nature, night, photography, seasons, star, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: In the Alpes

Two weeks ago, I was visiting my brother in Switzerland. I hoped for better conditions for star photography. You know, I’m living in one of the worst parts of Europe for this kind of photography because of the enormous rate of light pollution (get a light pollution map and find the purple area in the middle of Europe. South-East of it, in the red area, you can find my home area).

I was right, the conditions were much better, but not as good as they were in northern Norway.

The small, bright line heading from the center to the lower-left corner, is a falling star. In mid August you can spot the presides shower. While we saw some of them in the sky, I only captured this one with my camera.

Take care!