1. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    Hello, I took these pictures of what I first thought was a star, but when I zoomed in the object looked different in the pictures. Any idea on what it is? 20170925_200321. 20170925_200320. 20170925_200304. 20170925_200301. 20170925_200257. 20170925_200133. 20170925_200131.
     
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  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    A planet?

    If you know the exact time and location, and the rough heading then you should be able to find it in Stellarium.
     
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  3. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    Venus. (The Queen of the UFO's)

    An hour or so before dawn, looking east, right?

    I've been watching Mars and Venus getting closer together for weeks. Just 3 days ago they were within 1/4 degree of each other (half the width of the full moon). But Mars is very faint compared to Venus.

    Venus shows phases, like the moon. I can't be sure but it looks as if the top photo is in good enough focus to show Venus in the gibbous phase that it's currently in. (So it's not a perfect circle.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  4. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    I installed something called star tracker, is that app accurate? I am in SC and the direction according to that app was pointed SE. Will the stars and planets remain in similar locations for an amount of time or will they appear in different places daily?
     
  5. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    I thought that I should add that the pictures were taken quickly one after the other and they go from bottom to top in the order they were taken.
     
  6. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    The Earth does rotate and orbit the sun.
     
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  7. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    They are in similar position at the same time of day each day, but do move, especially the planets. So you want to get the date and time right.
     
  8. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    I have a few more that were taken right before the ones I posted.
    20170925_200111.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    From night to night at the same hour of the night they will be in very much the same place.

    I'm guessing it's the planet Venus or possibly the star Sirius. Just get up at the same time this morning and you'll see it. Start sorting things out by going to the site below.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  10. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    This site is easy to use. https://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Yourhorizon

    The only tricky part is using UTC. South Carolina is -4 UTC. It just means you add 4 hours to your local time to get UTC. I've set the time to tomorrow morning at 6:30 (10:30 UTC), which I'm guessing is about the time you saw this. If I'm guessing wrong just set the time correctly. The stars change position during the night for the same reason the sun moves across the sky.

    [​IMG]

    The white one with the female sign is Venus and the red one with the male sign is Mars. Venus is much brighter than Mars and is the brightest "star" you'll see in the sky by far.

    Start playing around with this site by setting the time differently and you'll see how the stars move during the night. They move for the same reason the sun does - the earth is rotating.

    For your first amateur astronomy project, see if you can identify Mars as well. Look at them each morning and you'll see Mars moving a little bit farther away from Venus each day.

    Your first constellation can be Orion, because that's up at that time in the south. Look for the bright red star Betelgeuse in Orion. You'll see another bright star just to the left and down from Orion, Sirius. Sirius often flashes bright colors like a diamond or the lights on the top of a distant cop car. That's called "chromatic scintillation."


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  11. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Please post the time and date of these photos, if you want help identifying the light.
     
  12. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    They are from September 25th from 8:01pm through 8:03pm.
     
  13. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I can't see anything in particular in the SE at that time. So I suspect you might just have have an out-of-focus star.
     
  14. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    Thank you for checking it out.
     
  15. Clouds Givemethewillies

    Clouds Givemethewillies Active Member

    You need to make the time zone and daylight savings clear to avoid possible confusion.
     
  16. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    He's in South Carolina, pictures taken in September. Therefore UTC -4.
    How is the app calculating your direction? Do you remember the direction you were facing? Also some approximate GPS coordinates.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  17. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    It could be a distant plane flying toward you. Are you still in Boiling Springs, SC? For this location and the time, the likely candidate flight is American Airlines 2388 from Orlando to Chicago performed by Boeing 737-823 N875NN.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
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  18. Clouds Givemethewillies

    Clouds Givemethewillies Active Member

  19. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    I don't think the ISS would be in the same place for two minutes.
     
  20. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    Fomalhaut. One of the brightest stars in the sky. And it stands out because the stars around it are dim.

    (With the caveat that it's kind of surprising that you could capture it so well on a handheld camera)


    http://earthsky.org/tonight/lonely-autumn-star-shines-brightly-in-southeast


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  21. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    It's still visible at 8:00 PM in S.C. As a matter of fact it's higher in the sky, slightly farther to the west. And there's no moon, so it will be more visible. Go out tonight and look for it.

    [​IMG]
     
  22. Clouds Givemethewillies

    Clouds Givemethewillies Active Member

    Judging by the contrail, the object is not low in the sky
     
  23. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    I will check tonight if the clouds clear out. I can't recall ever seeing a star that noticable in that location before. The only one I can compare the brightness to is probably the north star. I need to take more pictures around the same time to compare.
    I thought it was interesting how it appears to change brightness and shape. Do you know why there is a blackened area around it, is this a camera effect?
    Screenshot_20171010-182658.

    The next two show the shape is different.
    Screenshot_20171010-183340.
    The one below is the most interesting to me. I am always still when recording or taking pictures so that I don't get any motion blur. I don't know why the object would appear this way unless it was moving.
    SmartSelectImage_2017-10-10-18-40-25.
     
  24. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    It's called "scintillation." Or you could just say it's twinkling. Bright stars on the horizon do that.


    The stars in that part of the sky (south) slowly change during the year. This summer you'll see the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius and the brightest part of the Milky Way in that same spot.

    I don't know. Probably.


    Even the smallest movement with the lens zoomed in will cause the image to streak. I'm not surprised at the streaks. I'm surprised at the relative lack of streaks. If you don't have a tripod, rest the camera and your hands on something solid.

    A big problem is focus. So many cameras these days don't have a manual focus. Automatic focus gets fooled by the dark, featureless sky, and you get blurry out of focus images. Then the out of focus star in the photo looks as if it has a strange shape.
     
  25. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    I looked outside last night and couldn't see any easily visible stars as the night before looking in the same area. I could see some easily visible stars in a different direction, so I played around when taking pictures of them. I moved the camera around just before and during the pics to test how they would look out of focus. I saw some distortion, but pretty far off from how other objects looked in the images that are in focus. Some of these were in some images and not in others when they were taken in the same direction seconds apart.
    SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-30-42.
    SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-23-41. SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-25-11. SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-24-26. SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-27-27. Screenshot_20171011-172914. SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-25-40. SmartSelectImage_2017-10-11-17-31-16.
    Here is the area and direction that I was taking pictures.
    Screenshot_20171011-182554.
    I used the star app that I added and found it pretty confusing as far as determining what I was looking at. I will try it again.
     
  26. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    Because there were clouds?

    These newer online programs are overly complicated for beginners.

    Decades ago I used this book. Simple star charts for each month.

    [​IMG]

    There's an updated version of this book. Just look on Amazon.

    Another thing that might be better is a star finder. https://www.rainbowresource.com/product/Glow-in-the+Dark+Star+Finder/020043

    It has two scales: Day of the year and hour of the night. Just be patient, go out a few times each week, pick out the brightest stars, and try to recognize the constellations. Before you know it, the night sky will be as familiar to you as the streets and buildings in your town.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  27. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    No, it looked pretty clear in that area and was clear again tonight. I didn't see any easily visible stars anywhere close.
     
  28. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    Clouds at night can be tricky. The sky might just look blank. But without actually being there, it's hard for me to tell exactly what's going on. I suggest just moving on from that one experience, and teach yourself the night sky. Pretty soon you'll be able to point out stars and constellations to friends and family. You'll be able to recognize planets just because of the way they look. Venus is very bright and blue-white, Saturn is a salmon-yellow, Mars is a dull red , etc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  29. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    And to add to that, contact your local astronomy group. They are normally very friendly and always willing to help new stargazers navigate around the night sky. You don't need expensive kit either, a good pair of binoculars will do to get started. I've got an old 1950's ex British army pair, 8x40, paid £3.00 for them in a charity shop, but even they will split the odd binary like Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major (The Great Bear / The Plough / The Big Dipper), give a faint view of objects like The Orion Nebular, show the larger moons of Jupiter and give spectacular images of the moon.
     
  30. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    This can be your project for the next week. At about 8:00 p.m. your time, the north sky will look like this. The names are names of constellations. The big dipper is setting, Ursa Minor (the little dipper) is dim and you won't be able to pick it out because there's too much light pollution, Draco and Cepheus are not very interesting. Concentrate on one thing. Try to pick out Cassiopeia. It's a big W. Later you'll learn how to use Cassiopeia to pick out the north star, (which is a dim, unremarkable star.)

    [​IMG]


    This is what the southwest sky will look at the same time. There are some pretty spectacular things to see. The yellow disk is the planet Saturn. The constellation Sagittarius looks like a teapot - the handle is up and the spout is down. You should be able to pick that out. The bright red star near the horizon is Antares. These should all be bright enough to see. (The white disk with the P is Pluto, which is far too dim to see.)


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
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  31. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    I miss this guy... This is just as true in early October, 2017 as it was in early October, 1987. Orion is up in the early morning. (So are spectacular Sirius and Venus.)

     
  32. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    Another way to spot Sagittarius and Scorpius...



    Right there is the brightest part of the Milky Way. But... you won't see it. Too much light pollution in the city, or even a small town.