MOON SET & FACTORY SMOKE
After almost a week of clouds the sky finally cleared on February 11th 2008. With high pressure dominating and delivering settled almost Summer-like weather and little in the way of wind, things were not encouraging for night sky observing. As I suspected, once the Sun set in a crystal clear sky the fog developed and the sky turned hazy and very poor for telescope work. Despite trying, I had to give up my comet chasing plans and after watching the ISS and docked shuttle Atlantis transit I decided I would go after the Moon later in the evening. The best static camera Moon images require a twilight sky background. When this happens one can get the Moon perfectly exposed complimented by nicely exposed foreground. This evening the ecliptic was at a very steep angle with respect to the horizon which resulted in the Moon being too high to image with foreground subjects. Another reason why the high Moon is an unattractive target (except for webcam imagers) is that it will appear small compared with its lower altitude equivalent which will often sport the photogenic 'Moon Illusion' effect.
Tonight I had no choice but to wait until the Moon got lower in the sky before setting. When the time came I walked out to the Crewe Road and began taking images over-looking the Coleraine Road into the low and very dark western sky. If you want to pick up the foreground you would have to use a long exposure which would overexpose (blow out) the Moon but not if you can find a bright subject matter to counter this. The 'Specialist Joinery' factory was perfect for this. The tower produced a nice lazy drift of smoke which was illuminated by the tower's lights. The Moon looked a splendid sight below this smoke and made for a very atmospheric image. This was at 200mm, ISO400 and 4 second exposure at F/4.5. I took 50 images from roadsides and fields and had a great time watching the Moon with dark earthshine grow in size and turn deep orange as it set behind the black Cairn Mountain range. The Moon set at approximately 23.30 UT. I had been watching it for 1.5 hours and hadn't realized the time. What began as a poor session turned into a successful one!.