Capturing Jupiter Opposition 2019

Living in Houston, I don’t do much astrophotography. When I do attempt to capture the night sky, it’s usually with a wide angle lens and a long exposure, like this shot from the Lick Observatory in California a few years ago.

However, this month all of the news outlets in Houston were hyping up Jupiter and claiming that you would be able to see not only the planet, but also its four largest moons with only binoculars June 10. I decided to had to check it out.

I pulled out my vintage Leica R 400mm f6.8 Telyt and stacked both a 2x teleconverter and a 1.4x teleconverter before attaching it to a Sony A7II and bolting it all to a good tripod.

I’m not a big fan of teleconverters since you lose stops of light and some detail, but I was going for maximum magnification, and this rig got me the equivalent of a 1120mm lens.

For reference, this is how close 1120mm gets you to the moon on a full-frame, 35mm equivalent camera.

I have the StarTracker app on my phone, so I knew right where to look in the sky. The hardest part of the evening was waiting until Jupiter made its appearance above the neighbor’s trees about 10:30 p.m.

I took a couple dozen shots at varying shutter speeds and ISOs, but it seemed like f8 (plus the lost stops from the teleconverters, so actually f22), 1/500 second at ISO 1600 gave the clearest results. However, I had to develop the RAW files twice — once to properly expose Jupiter and once to expose the moons. Then I combined the two files into one photo.

There is Jupiter with Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s pretty cool that you can see at least some amount of detail on Jupiter even using old lenses from the 1970s.

The 2015 Lakewood Yacht Club Harvest Moon Regatta

When you buy a boat in Kemah, Texas you can’t help but hear stories of certain things like Redfish Island, Double Bayou, and the Harvest Moon Regatta.

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It seemed like every sailor with even a little bit of salt had done the Harvest Moon at some time or another. It also seemed like a whole lot of them had suspiciously “won it” more than once.

The regatta is a three-day, two-night race from Galveston to Port Aransas. It’s been an event that I’ve wanted to participate in for years now, but it always seemed I was traveling for work or had some other major conflict.

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This year I thought I was going to miss it again because Mary was out of vacation, and I was already taking two weeks off for a boat delivery in November. However, we had friends in need of one more crew person at the last minute, and they didn’t need me to help sail the boat back. That meant I would only miss one day of work, and Mary agreed to drive down to Port Aransas to treat herself to a spa day before meeting us at the marina for the party.

The weather is looking a little bit scary. It’s probably going to be raining sideways the entire time. This will also be my first attempt at sleeping on a boat under sail. We’ll see how that goes.

When we start Thursday you’ll be able to follow our track at http://trackleaders.com/harvest15i.php?name=HIPPOKAMPOS

One thing is certain, we’ll have plenty of wind.

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UPDATE: Looks like I won’t be sailing in the Harvest Moon Regatta this year. We got this message from Lakewood Yacht Club a few minutes ago.

THE 2015 HARVEST MOON REGATTA® RACE SCHEDULED TO BEGIN OCTOBER 22, 2015 HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Due to serious concerns about the safety of participants and their vessels due to hazardous weather conditions predicted by several weather authorities, Lakewood Yacht Club, as Host, and Bay Access, as Organizer, have decided to cancel the 2015 Harvest Moon Regatta® race.

Information regarding the other events scheduled to occur in Port Aransas as part of the regatta, including the Bacardi Rum Party, BBQ, and raffle events will be forthcoming.

The history and goal of the Harvest Moon Regatta® race is to promote offshore sailing in safe conditions such that the participants, whether seasoned sailing veterans or first time offshore sailors, can enjoy the race and trip down the coast with confidence and safety for all concerned. Race safety is paramount. Though it’s possible the weather could moderate during the time the race would have been held, the forecasts indicate the conditions will most likely remain such that race conditions, especially docking and vessel return conditions, will not meet the goals of the race as organized. Therefore, the 2015 Harvest Moon Regatta® race has been cancelled.

Strawberry Moon

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In the United States, the full moon in June is called the strawberry moon because it was used as the indicator of the start of strawberry harvesting season.

There were rumors and photos circulating Facebook showing the strawberry moon as being pink. My mother even sent me a message to make sure I’d get a photo of the strawberry moon for her.

There it is above — definitely full, definitely not pink.

Stop and smell the roses

Some nights you plan to make an instructional video on how to disassemble and service vintage Lewmar Spring Jaw Self-Tailing Winches, but some nights you just have to stop and smell the roses.

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And stare at the sky, watching the planes go by.

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And then eat cookies while you watch a bunch of episodes of Mad Men Season 7 on Netflix.

But tonight it’s back to work … probably.

Rainy Days

It rained every day last week, but it especially rained all day Saturday. And when I say all day, I mean ALL day. We did nothing but sit inside the boat and watch the flash flood warnings on TV.

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We had planned to christen the new grill, but we resorted to picking up fried chicken at lunch and then cooking burgers on the Origo for dinner.

Of course, the rain didn’t bother everybody. This guy thought it was quacktastic.

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Every time we had to walk the dogs, he was just puttering around letting raindrops fall on his head.

However, the fire ants definitely did not enjoy the rain. In fact, as water started pooling up in different places it created floating fire ant swarms. I tried to stay far away from them, but I think the dogs must have picked up a swimmer as they bounded around. Somehow I ended up with the first fire ant bite of the year.

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If you’re not familiar with fire ants, their bite is a bit like a bee sting, but it creates a little blister white head in the middle. Then you pop it, and the bite oozes for days. They’re especially fun when you accidentally stand in a mound and get 30 or 40 bites on your feet at once. I’m sure this was just the first bite of many in 2015.

Eventually the rain did stop. By Sunday evening the sky had cleared, and we were treated to a spectacular view of a new moon with the planet Venus shining nearby. (Well, sort of nearby, I mean it all comes down to perspective, right?)

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