Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Moon Dogs over Letterkenny

These dogs neither bark, nor bites, they don’t care if you care them or not. Moon dogs became visible on either side of the moon over the skies of Letterkenny on 15th April 2015 around 02:00am. A very pale moon pillar (the vertical line that originates from the moon) and parts of the parhelic circle (the horizontal line that starts from the moon and goes through the moon dogs) are also visible in this picture. Even though the 22 degree halos (moon rings) are common, the moon dogs are very rare to be seen.
For those who don’t know them, moon dogs are those bright spots visible on left and right side of the moon in this picture. They are also called mock moon, moondog and paraselene (the scientific term). These are caused by the hexagonal-plate-shaped ice crystals in the thin layer of cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. These bright spots appear approximately 22 degrees on the left and right side of the moon, the 22degree halo or the moon ring if exists intersects at this point. The cold weather front that made the temperature real feel to be around 0 degrees and below in Letterkenny on the Good Friday evening of 2017 would have been caused by these law flying hexagonal ice crystals (diamond dusts).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Moon Pointed the Direction of Sunrise

On a frozen winter morning, an attempt to capture the sunrise was rewarded with the fog covered view of Letterkenny (a view from "Ceannan View"), the distant mountains peaked above the foggy layer beneath, and the crescent moon's bow told me where the sun is going to rise.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Northern Lights - Horn Head, Dunfanaghy, Donegal, Ireland on 27th March 2017

County Donegal witnessed beautiful Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) from the evening of 27th March 2017 till next day morning 4:30am. Here is a time-lapse video created from 745 raw images captured from Horn Head View point near Dunfanaghy, Donegal, Ireland. You can see the lights literally dancing which is why sometimes it is referred as Dancing Lights or Dance of the Spirits.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Saint Eunan's College, Letterkenny - A Twilight View on 25th March 2017

The sky turned into impressive red and yellow during 25th March 2017 and the adjacent days. Here is a view of Saint Eunan’s college in silhouetted with the astonishing colors of sky after sunset.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Brilliant Northern Lights Display over Horn Head Peninsula - Dunfanaghy - Donegal

Brilliant Northern Lights display lighted up the sky from yesterday evening (27th March 2017) till 03:00 am today over Horn Head Peninsula in Dunfanaghy area. Here are some selected frames from the 450 or more shots that I could capture all night long before the camera battery got exhausted. I will be posting a time-lapse movie out of these brilliant aurora displays soon. The show was magnificent; I could see the light pillars dancing in the sky towards the North, and the green background aurora flaring up and down so fast like fire, I could even see the reflection of the dancing lights in the sea (North Atlantic Ocean). Now I understand why Aurora is also called as dancing lights.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

An aurora click that captured many other worlds by chance!

First of all, thanks a ton dear Balsaraj Pothera and Santhosh Varghese for joining the aurora hunting trip to Horn Head in the cold and windy weather

Even though Aurora (Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights) is the main thing that I focused in this frame, it captured many other worlds in it, let me elaborate these worlds starting with the near ones first and in that order

1. Horn Head view point– The view point is a main attraction of the northern part of Wild Atlantic drive; Horn head is a peninsula in Donegal, Ireland and is an internationally important colony for breeding seabirds such as European shag and razorbill, this area is Natural heritage and refuge for fauna and designated as Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservatory by the Irish government
2. Atlantic Ocean – What you see beyond the cliffs of Horn head is the Atlantic Ocean which covers approximately 20% of Earth’s surface which itself is the world for many creatures
3. Aurora Borealis – The Northern light occurs about 80-90 kilometers above the sea level and extends to several hundred kilometers above sea level
4. The Stars – The stars that you see in this picture could be housing many planetary system which could be a world by itself, many extra solar planetary systems are being discovered recently
5. The Milky Way – The milky way can be distinguished as the faint white milky band that stretches from left to right in the upper part of this image which aligns with the zig zag part of the iron sign post with the HORN HEAD sculptured in it in the foreground; our own galaxy that contains our Solar system, right now it is considered as a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter between 100,000 light-years and 180,000 light-years and is estimated to contain 100-400 billion stars and probably 100 billion planets
6. Andromeda galaxy – Last but not the least; Andromeda galaxy can be seen as the bright smudge over the brightest part of green Aurora band in this picture; i.e., just towards the lower right of the center point of this image. Andromeda is approximately 220,000 light years across, it is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, it contains at least twice the number of stars in Milky Way and is much more massive than Milky way

The greatest challenge in capturing this image was patiently waiting in the dark, cold and highly windy night for Aurora to turn up bright enough to be captured by the camera. The high wind gusts made it impossible to leave the camera and tripod alone for even a second and it made it very tough to get images without any camera shakes as these images were captured with a shutter speed of 15 to 20 seconds. Even with all the thermal suits and hand gloves, it was difficult to stay out of the car for more than 10-20 minutes at a stretch as temperature outside was around 2 degree Celsius.

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Waterfall at Barnesmore Gap (Blue Stack Mountains)

Barnesmore gap is a mountain pass situated in the Bluestack Mountains (Croaghgorms) in County Donegal, the former County Donegal railway run through Barnesmore gap

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Northern Lights on a Cloudy Day

The aurora predictions where really high from the evening of 1st March 2017 till 06:00 am with predicted Kp Level 5, but the geomagnetic storm recorded Kp Level 6 from 9:00 pm. The overcast cloud and rain disappointed the aurora hunters in Donegal and Northern Ireland, many reported brilliant aurora displays from South as far as Cork. Regardless the rain and clouds, I decided to go for it and reached Horn Head around 10:00 pm along with my friend Balsaraj. Towards north a very narrow gap was clear of any clouds and we sighted the aurora immediately on reaching the location as we looked towards North. The magnitude of brightness was so good and the portion of light pillars visible through the narrow band of cloud clearance hinted that the real light pillars were magnificent if the sky was clear. The above image is what I could capture after all,  with a zoomed in view of 85 mm on a full frame. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Sunrise on 8th February 2017 - A view from Thornberry Estate in Letterkenny

The sunrise (One of the most photographed celestial event along with Sunset) on 8th February 2017 was spectacular, the red and yellow sky gave a warm welcome even though the temperature was around zero with frost all over the ground.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Moon, Venus and Mars Conjunction over Cathedral of St. Eunan and St. Columba - Letterkenny

The three celestial objects - Moon, Venus and Mars showcased a spectacular shown on the evening sky of 31st January 2017. Venus was high enough from the horizon to be clearly spotted by anyone looking towards the West for the past couple of months, similar alignment occurred during the past two similar phase of moon in the last two months. I was delighted to capture the previous alignment which happened around the start of this year and the photos were posted here =>

The last alignment during the first week of this year made almost the Syzygy arrangement (a word used to denote the  straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system), with Venus and Mars on either side of the crescent moon.

This time, the alignment pictured a smiley face in the sky, Venus positioned towards 2-O-Clock direction and Mars positioned to near 12-O-Clock direction relative to the crescent moon.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Northern lights view from Horn Head on the night of 2017 January 31

January 31st turned out to be a double bonus day for astrophotography enthusiasts, by evening the Moon-Venus-Mars conjunction decorated the evening sky. After a few clicks of the beautiful alignment of the three celestial bodies in the Western part of the sky, I headed towards Horn Head Peninsula - a very good location to watch for Aurora Borealis in Ireland. The night turned out to be fruitful with mostly clear skies and without high wind, more importantly, the atmosphere humidity and temperature of around 2 to 3 degree Celsius did not do dew up the lens. I missed a very good spell of the dancing lights by the time I reached the location (around 9:15 pm Irish time), I met another guy on top of the cliff, who had already photographed a few beautiful snaps by then. In the next two to three hours I kept on clicking until the Aurora almost disappeared from the sky, and I was lucky to create an 18 second’s time lapse video that covered around 2 hours of Aurora. For the first time in my life, the Aurora was bright enough to be clearly seen by the naked eyes. When I reached back home at 03:00 am on Feb 1st, I was so eager to transfer the images to the pc and view them. The images turned up to be satisfactory, so I managed to do the final processing and time lapse video creation as well as publishing the contents to this blog and face book before I went to (I am going to :) ) sleep. 

Time-Lapse Video