This year, I’ve been extremely privileged to be a guest Astronomy and Space lecturer on board Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas; two beautiful ships belonging to Royal Caribbean that are currently circumnavigating Australia and New Zealand.
As part of my involvement with NASA’s Saturn Observation Campaign, my model of the Cassini spacecraft comes along on all trips, so when our trivia team won white t-shirts I used mine and asked everyone to sign there names on it. I made friends with a lovely lady called Jenny Rodgers who was giving watercolour lessons on board and asked if she could draw the Cassini Spacecraft on the front, which she happily did. Even the captain of the Radiance of The Seas, Captain Sindre, got into the spirit of the event and signed it too…this t-shirt will now be posted to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to be put up on the Cassini wall as Cassini Headquarters. If you would like to know more about this incredible mission to Saturn please go to: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/
When you are on a ship, it’s not really possible to look through a telescope because of the ships movement. But you can thoroughly enjoy looking at the moon and stars through a pair of binoculars (so don’t forget to pack a pair when you go on your next cruise).
You can also have a lot of fun using astronomy apps on your mobile phone or iPad, you just hold them up to the sky…and like magic, it shows you all the constellations currently up in the sky. The best app that I tell everybody about is called Star Chart, it’s simple to use and it’s FREE. You will find the app in iTunes at:
My main enjoyment when on a cruise is to watch the sunsets, I’ve always wanted to see or capture the elusive and very rare ‘Green Flash’ and on my last cruise not only did I get to see it once, but we saw it twice, two evenings in a row and Yes, I captured it with my camera…it was Amazing!
First of all I was on the 5th deck and would say my view was parallel with the ocean horizon, when the sun nearly reached the top of the horizon, the bottom of the sun spread out below it in what appeared to be a mirage. I keep watching carefully as the sun set down into the ocean, observing that there was a green rim on top of the suns jagged top edge. I just kept watching carefully and taking photo’s until the sun set…I did not stop taking photos even though the sun had nearly disappeared and then incredibly just before the sun completely disappeared below the horizon the top of the sun appeared to stay a few seconds longer on the horizon where it displayed a marvellous flash of bright green before it disappeared completely below the horizon…it was just awesome!
To take the pictures of the green flash, I hand held my Canon 7D camera with a Canon 100-400mm lens set at 400mm and steaded myself against the railing…I also put the camera strap around my neck (for protection in case I accidentally dropped it into the water!!).
I also waited until the sun was not far off the horizon because if you take any images before this time, the sun is just too bright and blows out the image. If you are taking any sunset images please be very careful not to look at the sun, focus the lens not far from the sun on the horizon without directly looking at it, then when you look back in the lens to compose the picture do a bit of averted vision and look to the side of where the sun is, to protect your eyes. If you have a point and shot camera, you can safely line up the sun using the camera viewfinder on the back to take your shot.
Camera settings for my images were:
First 3 images: @ F8, exposure 1/500th second, ISO 100 (-1 compensation)
Setting Sun images both @ F6.3, exposure 1/350th second, ISO 100 (-2 compensation)
Green Flash image: @ F 6.7, exposure 1/350th second, ISO 100 (-1 ½ compensation)
Separate Green flash image: @ f5.6 exposure 1/250th second ISO 100 (-1 compensation)
If you want to find our more about the very rare green flash, please go to Les Cowley’s excellent atmospheric web page at: http://www.atoptics.co.uk/atoptics/gf1.htm
Posted on spaceweather.com at: http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=90201