Astrophotography Challenges

The Astrophotography Section of ASSA regularly challenges its members to capture specific images. Some of these challenges are meant to push your skills, others are to establish a record of interesting events, and others are just meant to be fun! The challenges are listed below:

Solar Eclipse of 26 February 2017

On 26 February, an annular eclipse of the Sun will be visible across much of Africa.  The challenge comes in two parts: First, for the experienced astophotographer, produce the most stunning image or video of the Moon’s disk encroaching on the Sun. The second challenge is intended for the ordinary citizen who wants to join in the fun and has built a pinhole projection camera: Take a photograph of the projected image and send it in to us! If you are in public, send us a picture of people watching the eclipse through your pinhole camera (try to get the camera in the shot!).  We’ll be sharing these images on our Facebook page throughout the course of the eclipse!

As usual, you can send your images to us by emailing them to astrophotography@assa.saao.ac.za

Solar Eclipse of 1 September 2016

On 1 September, an annular eclipse of the Sun will be visible across much of Africa.  The challenge comes in two parts: First, for the experienced astophotographer, produce the most stunning image or video of the Moon’s disk encroaching on the Sun. The second challenge is intended for the ordinary citizen who wants to join in the fun and has built a pinhole projection camera: Take a photograph of the projected image and send it in to us! If you are in public, send us a picture of people watching the eclipse through your pinhole camera (try to get the camera in the shot!).  We’ll be sharing these images on our Facebook page throughout the course of the eclipse!

As usual, you can send your images to us by emailing them to astrophotography@assa.saao.ac.za

Astrophotography Challenge for February 2015

Moon, Venus and Mars - simulationThis month’s challenge: there will be a nice tight grouping of the Moon, Venus and Mars on 20 February shortly after sunset. The three objects will just about fit within a six degree field of view, and are all quite bright, so this challenge is suitable for just about any level of equipment and skill.
However, timing will be critical. Too early and your image will drown in the bright twilight. Too late, and the moon will slip below the horizon. And speaking of the Moon, it will be a very, VERY thin crescent at roughly 4% illumination – so thin that most people would struggle to find it, if it wasn’t for bright Venus just a few degrees above it.
Mars and Venus will be about one degree apart, but will get even close than that – they’ll be less than half a degree apart on the 21st and 22nd of February. So if you miss your chance to capture the Mare/Venus/Moon grouping, you can still go for the Mars Venus conjunction.
Images may be submitted in the usual way – email them to astrophotographyassa.saao.ac.za along with a few words describing your equipment, settings, and any interesting notes you’d like to add.

Mars and Spica

On 8 April 2014, Mars will be at opposition.  It should appear redder than usual, since it will be less than 7° from the bright blue star Spica.  Your challenge:  Capture both Mars and Spica in the same field of view, showing off the contrast in their colours.  For extra credit, try and include Vesta, which will be coming in to opposition on 13 April, and Ceres which will be at opposition two days later.  The longest line between any of these objects is between Spica and Ceres, at a little over 16°.  Submit your images to astrophotographyassa.saao.ac.za with the subject “Mars and Spica Challenge”

Pallas (March 2014)

How to find Pallas

Chart showing Pallas’s location in the weeks following conjunction

Pallas, the 2nd largest (and 3rd most massive) asteroid in the Solar System, reached opposition on 22 February 2014, and will be passing within 3° of the 1.95 magnitude star Alphard (α Hya) in Hydra on 3 March. Over the next month, it will move about a half of a degree per day, and should stay at around magnitude 7. The attached chart will help you find it as it moves through the sky.

Your challenge: Capture as long a series of images as possible, and combine them to make an animation of Pallas as it moves through Hydra. If that’s too advanced, or if the weather doesn’t co-operate, a single image of Pallas will do. Submit your results to astrophotographyassa.saao.ac.za with the subject line “Pallas Challenge”, and tell us what it took to complete the animation. As usual, a technical brief is essential, describing your camera and telescope (if you used one) in enough detail to help other photographers compose similar shots.