The Moon illuminates a snowy scene (my back yard) in the pre-dawn darkness. This is an 80 second exposure at 35mm f/3.2 and ISO 125. The yellow-gold color on the background trees is from low-pressure sodium streetlights on the next street over. Click on the image to enlarge; right-click to open the full-resolution version in a new tab.
Dark skies are a treasure, a part of our culture, a part of who we are as humans that we must preserve. Due to some enlightened and forward thinking in the late 1980s, the outdoor lighting code implemented in Flagstaff has thus far kept light pollution from completely overrunning our beautiful natural skies.
From my back yard, 2.5 miles from the downtown commercial business center (click the thumbnail at right), I can see stars as faint as about magnitude 5.5 on a clear, Moonless night. In the video, North is towards the upper left corner. On the left side (NE), you can see that the sky background is noticeably brighter than toward the SW at right. The center of downtown Flagstaff is toward the NE.
This is 3.25 hours of the sky wheeling by in my Flagstaff back yard. Famous objects that appear: the Andromeda Galaxy (passes straight overhead), the Double Cluster in Perseus (left of Andromeda Galaxy), the Pleiades (towards the end, at the bottom), and Capella (towards the end, bright star at left).
Camera: Canon G3 X, 30 seconds per “video” frame (15-second exposures).
The zodiacal light at 7:51 pm (MST) on February 10, 2015, as seen from the west parking lot of the U.S. Naval Observatory near Flagstaff. If you’re wondering where the Observatory is, it’s about five miles west of downtown (Google maps link).
Below are two versions of a stack of eight 30-second exposures taken with a ZWO ASI120MM camera mounted on a camera tripod. This was 1h 47m after sunset (6:04 pm), and 21 minutes after the end of astronomical twilight (7:30 pm). You can see several naked-eye astronomical wonders, which are marked on the annotated version:
- the planets Uranus, Mars, and Venus in the glow of the zodiacal light
- the Pleiades star cluster, upper middle
- the open cluster, M35, upper left
- comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), just below the flagpole
- the Andromeda Galaxy, also just below the flagpole
- M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, below the flagpole
- the Double Cluster in Perseus, above the flagpole
- M42, the Orion Nebula, over to the left by the 61-inch telescope dome
- the light pollution dome from Phoenix(!), lower left, 120 miles away