San Francisco Bay Area Wildfire Smoke

During the late afternoon, I took a peek outside and spotted some high clouds. That usually means a colorful sunset. I didn’t realize how hazy the skies were at the time. San Francisco was pretty well hidden from the smoke coming from the Northern California wildfires.

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Stanford Dish at Sunset

Grabbed the relatively lightweight Nikkor 28-300mm lens for an evening hike. I learned my lesson last time when I hauled a backpack and tripod. Just cannot move quickly with that much gear. Anyways, the leisurely walk turned into a biathlon once the sunset colors revealed themself. Run and shoot. Run and shoot.

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Lagoon Nebula

Clear Outside predicted a few hours of clear weather, but I could already see the clouds filling the skies. When I tried to confirm polar alignment before this set, Polaris was already obscured. However, ASIAir Pro was still able to plate solve despite the clouds. The final photo came from stacking 30 images taken at 30s each with the TPO UltraWide 180 f/4.5.

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Len Turner Memorial Vista Point

The Len Turner Memorial Vista Point offers a view of San Francisco, running from Candlestick to the Bay Bridge. When I previously had difficulty focusing on San Francisco at night, I suspected my lens and teleconverter combination may have been the culprit. After switching to the TPO UltraWide 180, I realized that the problem was the fog. Even the portions of the City which were not obscured by fog, the moisture and strong wind rendered all the city lights into bloated dots. So, this cityscape needs to be reshot on a clear evening.

The Len Turner Memorial Vista Point is located on Ralston Avenue in Belmont, CA. Apple Maps had the wrong address for the location and sent me down Belmont Canyon Road.

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Huntington Beach Fireworks

Huntington Beach Fireworks

While waiting for the July 4th fireworks to begin at the Huntington Beach pier, an even more spectacular display erupted in the adjoining neighborhood. I was surprised to see so many aerial fireworks. I remembered running around with sparklers as a child. No one was launching pyrotechnics to rival the pros. Seriously, this was more entertaining than the official fireworks show. However, after some research, the aerial fireworks may not have been safe and sane.

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Star Trails

When most photos are captured in fractions of a second, spending an hour or more to take a photo feels like madness. That’s the reason why I never attempted to photograph star trails before. However, once I headed down the path of astrophotography, the calculation changed. Since I’m waiting for the camera most of the time, I could be twice as productive by setting up an older camera to take star trails. Since this was my third attempt, I was only willing to commit 30 minutes to the process. Also, I wasn’t sure what factor the 62% waxing gibbous would play in the final image. The end result turned out better than expected.

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Rho Ophiuchi

Antares and Rho Ophiuchi. Can’t wait for this target to move to a direction with less light pollution. It wasn’t a completely clear night. The light pollution illuminating the clouds doesn’t make it any easier.

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Antares and Rho Ophiuchi

Ever since the departure of Orion and Andromeda, I’ve been searching for a new target. The other night, I spotted Antares, the red supergiant, in the constellation Scorpius. I knew that Rho Ophiuchi was near Antares, but I didn’t bring a star chart and I was in an area with a poor cell signal. It was only after processing the Antares photos that I discovered that Rho Ophiuchi is in the same area.

During the second attempt, I waited for the rise of Antares. On the back of the camera, I could see the pentagon in Live View. Including the star above and below the pentagon ensured that I was not cutting off the image.

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Stanford University

The classic view of Stanford University is from Palm Drive. From this behind-the-scenes angle, you can see the Stanford campus from a different perspective. The iconic Hoover Tower stands out and above all the surrounding buildings. The back of Memorial Church is also visible. Just follow Palm Drive, which is the vertical line on the left, down to the Quad. The Stanford Dish is not visible, but you can find the illuminated smaller dish.

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Virgo Cluster

Usually, I am looking for a galaxy or nebula near a bright star. However, the Virgo Cluster had no bright stars in that section of the sky for reference. I had to guess at the location since the back of the camera in Live View mode was pitch black.

The bright galaxies are M 86 and M84 in the center from left to right. Below that is M 87 or the Virgo Galaxy. To its left is M 88. M 99 is also visible and appears at the top of the image just right of center. Also known as the Coma Pinwheel or Virgo Cluster Pinwheel, it looks somewhat like a comma since one spiral is further out than the others.

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