Night Sky

Here at Light Outdoors we try many outdoor activities whether it’s hunting, fishing, camping, archery, and now astronomy and photography.
Folks I’m going to tell you I thought shooting firearms was expensive.
One scope I’m saving up to by is 2000 dollars. Holy Crap! That is a used car!
The camera I would like to get a full frame Nikon is about 3000 and the lenses for it are 400 to 1000 dollars apiece. Crap! What did I get myself into?
Although I will say this, it is a lot of fun or it was until I learned that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are on a collision course in space. What the heck? A great old big universe and they got to try to take up the same parking spot.
When this happens life on Earth will most likely cease to exist or life as we know it anyhow.
Of course this is going to happen in roughly 250 to 400 million years from now. But still I am taking no chances. I’ve cancelled my 401k and cashed in my savings. Aint going to catch me with no galaxy colliding catastrophe. No sir.

So anyway….

Still practicing taking night sky photos. I think they are getting slightly better although I could be wrong. Milky Way 2 8-9-2015 (Custom)


The above photo was taken with a Nikon d3300 using the kit lens set at 18mm 20 seconds at 1600 ISO.

Been working with Lightroom from Adobe trying to adjust the colors. My neighbors street light washes out everything and makes the sky a nice pukey shade of brown.

Milky Way 3 8-9-2015 (Custom)

This is another 20 seconds at 1600

Milky Way 8-9-2015 (Custom)

I think I made this one turn out waaaaaaay to purple. Unless you’re a Barney fan then it can never be too purple. Of course I am not a Barney fan.

milkyway4 (Custom)


The above one came out far better than I though with all of the lp that was around. The neighbors (on both sides of the street) had their houses lit up like they were planning on landing planes.

Orion Pleiades (Custom)


This one was taken because the Orion Constellation is finally coming back into view in my area. Of course it was taken at about four a.m. As you can see Orion is at the bottom in the center of the tree. The Pleiades or Seven Sisters are at the top left of center. With an open cluster about midway down.

Tried to get a picture through a telescope of the Orion Nebula this morning but was unable to because of the street light next door. I will find a dark spot and get one though sooner or later.
If anyone has any tips or tricks that you might want to share please comment.
Thanks for visiting


Walkabout Shelby

My son and I along with my 82 year old mother went walkabout, through the old iron works of Shelby Alabama.  Not a lot to see but a lot of history there. It was interesting listening to my mom talk about the things that happened during her life growing up in Shelby and each thing we saw led to another recollection from her.

DSC_4538 (Custom)This was the starting point of this particular little jaunt. The Shelby Iron Works park, located on County Road 42 in Shelby Alabama.

DSC_4462 (Custom)


Right across the dirt road from the iron works park is the old hotel. It was the first building in Shelby county to have both running water and electricity.
The big wigs with the iron works would come in by train (the depot was about 50 yards away) stay at the hotel, take care of their business and then hop on the next train heading back to where they belonged. The hotel had a large dining hall about 26 rooms and a kitchen that did not close when it was fully staffed. The original was burned down  during the war of Northern aggression and this one was built in 1900.

DSC_4468 (Custom)


Just behind the old hotel sat the old post office. When the mail came in on the train it went straight to here.
The post office was not just a place to get mail, you got news, found out about jobs and took care of a lot of business transactions (buying or selling moonshine whiskey).


DSC_4466-2 (Custom)


There is a ditch that runs right in front of the post office and alongside the old hotel that handles the over flow from the well house.

DSC_4469 (Custom)


The well house, covered an artesian well that produced water for the hotel as well as the surrounding area and a lot of people from Shelby would walk down and carry jugs of water back home. The water used to be very pure, clean and cold but it has not been tested lately.

We wondered from here across county road 42 to the old chemical plant. This was where they made coke (charged carbon) for the iron works in order to make steel.

DSC_4475 (Custom)


It is a concrete skeleton now and was the home for several pine cone, acorn and bottle rocket battles from my childhood. There are some old tunnels that I have no idea what they were used for that runs from the plant into the woods toward the other ruins.

DSC_4486 (Custom)

A tunnel that has been mostly filled in over the years. We used to crawl through these things checking them out and seeing where they went. That was before my friend Donnie came up missing in one and has not been seen from since. Just kidding, he found bats in one and we didn’t feel like crawling through a foot of bat crap. Knowing what I know now, thank the good Lord we didn’t.

DSC_4473 (Custom)

I’m not sure what the structure above is or was used for, I think its just cool as heck.



DSC_4493 (Custom)


More of the old brickwork and foundations from the area around the chemical plant.

DSC_4519 (Custom)


Some scraps stuff from the iron works. A partial brick, the porous rock above is slag from the iron and the green and black rocks are some type of glass slag. Pretty much man made obsidian. I do know one thing about those green and black rocks, they are hard to do anything with and the shards off them will cut you like a razor.

DSC_4499 (Custom)

Further out into the woods there is another skeleton of a building which was also used by us kids for bottlerocket fights.

Clear Pond (Custom)

Further along you will find clear pond, which is one of several large ponds created during the mining of iron ore. There are some very large fish in this pond. It’s called clear pond simply because the water is very clear you used to be able to see several feet down when you were out in a boat. Did I mention there are some very large fish.

Maybe one day we can walk back out there and see more things but for now this concludes my Shelby Iron Works walkabout.

Thanks for visiting Light Outdoors.


So I wandered over to the dark side of the house

So last night I decided to go around to the other side of the house where we have the dog pen to try to get away from the neighbors annoying street light and this is what I saw. This was taken  somewhere between 10 and 11 pm on 7-24-15.
Usually we stay out of the dog pen for photography and using the telescopes for several reasons. The power lines hook up on that side of the house. You have to open and close a gate to get around there or else the dogs will get out. The dogs always want to look at Pluto and sniff around Uranus. Also we have two almost solid black dogs and even after your eyes adjust, you cannot see them and will literally trip over them walking around.
We have had storms all week actually for the last three weeks we have had very little time without cloudy skies. Last night was the first night in  a while that we could actually see the moon and stars.DSC_4419 (Custom)There was a lot of lp from the moon but we were still able to get a few decent shots of the milky way.
All of these pics are unedited and straight from the camera. I am still learning about the camera settings so bear with me.
One thing I did notice in these is that away from the street light the sky does not have the brown tint to it.

DSC_4417 (Custom)

When I figure out what I am doing and get the hang of photo editing I might be able to have some of the really nice looking touched up shots.

DSC_4418 (Custom)

Just the simple fact that here we are sitting on a little speck in the middle of all those little specks amazes me.

DSC_4426 (Custom)

These are bands of our own galaxy that we can see on clear nights.

DSC_4430 (Custom)

If you notice the orange tint on the trees that is what a street light at the house next door can do for your night-time photos.

DSC_4431 (Custom)

I was experimenting with the iso and time seconds on some of these.




DSC_4432 (Custom)

ISO a little higher on these two.

DSC_4434 (Custom)

The above pic is the North end of the milky way.

DSC_4437 (Custom)

One thing I did notice last night is that it was the first night in a while that I did not notice a single shooting star in any of the pictures .

DSC_4442 (Custom)


Although we here at Light Outdoors love our hunting, fishing, and outdoor things I am thinking of uploading night photos like this more often. It actually cost less than hunting and fishing.


Gods and Goddesses

Jupiter the king of the gods standing above Venus the most beautiful of the goddesses yesterday evening._DSC3910 (Custom)

The conjunction of Venus and Jupiter over the next couple of nights is supposed to be so close (at least from out perspective) that they appear to be one super bright star.
Some believe it was this conjunction of one like it that appeared the night Jesus Christ was born.
Personally I was not there so I can not say this is fact or not.

_DSC39071 (Custom)Unfortunately where I live they are both appearing so close to the tree line that I cannot get a good picture of them.
Hopefully if this continues through the weekend I will be able to get some better pictures from some other location.

Are We Alone?

The question has been asked millions of times. Are we alone in the universe?
Is there life out there?
_DSC2547 (Custom)We look  up at the stars and try to see the big picture but still cannot answer the question.
If there is life out there, why has it not tried to contact us? Maybe because it is intelligent.
Maybe it has tried contacting us and the government keeps it a secret.
Maybe it is not as advanced as we would like to believe (those of us that believe other life exists) and has not mastered space travel either.
When you think about it, looking up at the stars is seeing into the past.
Some of those stars we see when we look up at the night sky was beaming light toward us hundreds, thousands and millions of years ago.
In fact the light from some of those stars was passing through here long before mankind existed.
_DSC2557 (Custom)Think of this. We live on one planet in a solar system made up of hundreds (yes that is correct) of planetary objects. Planets, moons, and dwarf planets all rotate around our sun.
With all of our space probes we have not yet made it far out of our solar system.
We live in a galaxy made up of millions of stars, some of which are certain to have their own solar system, so there is a distinct possibility they have at least one planet with the ability to sustain life just as earth does. Whether or not the life looks like us or not is another story.
DSC_3767_001Our Galaxy (the Milky Way) is just one of billions of galaxies out there in this big old universe.
According to astronomers there are at least one hundred billion galaxies in our observable universe. 100,000,000,000. That is quite a lot.
According to;  So far scientist have discovered over 500 solar systems in our part of the milky way and estimate there may be as many as one hundred billion solar systems in our galaxy alone.

Like I said before so far we do not have a probe that can even determine the size and scope of the milky way, because we have not reached the end of it yet.
All we can do right now is view the nearest galaxies to us
800px-Andromeda_Galaxy_(with_h-alpha)The Andromeda galaxy pictured above is one of the closest to us and easiest to see on a clear dark night. Although you would have to have a really good scope so see it this well. (Picture came from Hubble via Wikipedia commons.)
There is an estimated 1,000,000,000,000 stars in the Andromeda galaxy making it the largest galaxy in our neck of the universe. The Milky Way has an estimated 400 billion stars.
Add to that the smaller Triangulum galaxy. Which is right below the Andromeda in the above picture and in the picture below has approximately 40 billion stars.


So what we know is basically most stars do not have a solar system. However if only one in 1 million did that would still allow for 40 thousand solar systems in the Triangulum galaxy.
Possibly 1 million solar systems in the Andromeda and possibly 400 thousand solar systems in our own Milky Way galaxy.
To think that we are the only life forms in a solar system which we are just starting to explore, in a galaxy we haven’t even cracked the shell on, in a universe that the human mind cannot fully grasp, would be the apex of foolishness.
The human mind is bound by the finite. Infinity is something we cannot fully comprehend because we are not infinite, we live, we die, knowing only what we can see or touch.

Hubble2005-01-barred-spiral-galaxy-NGC1300 (Custom)


I never fully comprehended how vast our universe is until I read that most of the stars we see with the naked eye at night are in our own galaxy.
Unless we create some way of interdimensional time and space travel (A T.A.R.D.I.S maybe) we will never be able to fully view our galaxy and much less our universe.
If you can get a good set of binoculars and look up at the sky and see how many more stars there are  as opposed to what you can see with the naked eye.
Get a good telescope and take a look through it.
Find a good dslr camera and set it up pointing straight up, keep adjusting the exposure settings,  take several shots and see how many more stars appear in each photo.
That will be my next mission, when I have a clear night.

Trying Other Things With Camera

So I am still learning about the Nikon D3300 that I bought recently. It is my first DSLR and I have been practicing and trying other lenses as I get them.
I bought an adapter to hook the camera up to my telescopes just to see what I could see with it and how well it worked.

These are Cannas from about 30 yards with the d3300 attached to a Celestron Powerseeker 80eq that is about as in focus as I could get at that distance.DSC_3336 (Custom)

These are some lilies in my neighbors yard at about 60 yards.

DSC_3339 (Custom)

These are pampass grass flowers (I guess you would call them flowers) at about 80 yards from down the street.

DSC_3341 (Custom)

The flag flying in my neighbors back yard roughly 100 yards away

DSC_3365 (Custom)


From there I decided to try to take some moon photos The adapter I have allows you to screw the camera directly onto the telescope like it was used in the pictures above and it allows you to also use the 1.25 inch piece to insert an eyepiece.
All of the moon photos used the adapter and an eyepiece as I could not achieve prime focus without them. (I need to get focul reducers and field flatteners for space objects).

_DSC2895 (Custom) _DSC2897 (Custom) _DSC2905 (Custom) DSC_2459 (Custom) DSC_2460 (Custom) DSC_2462 (Custom)

If you have any suggestions use the comment section.

Need to Learn How to Post Process Pictures

So I’ve been taking pictures of the Milky Way and other space related things up to what I can. When I get the T.A.R.D.I.S. finished I hope to be able to take more, of course I am concerned as to how well a digital camera will work in that whole timey wimey displacement thing.
Anyhow I’ve been trying to learn how to use Gimp 2.8 and it’s coming along somewhat.
If anyone has any suggestions (already trying youtube videos) they would be greatly appreciated.
Here is another Milky Way shotDSC_3810 (Custom)

Interesting Observation

Sunday morning about 2:30 a.m. I was out taking more pictures of the Milky Way. I put the pictures onto my computer and noticed in two separate pictures I had two shooting stars running parallel to one another. Now it could have been the same two shooting stars but the pictures were taken about one and a half to two minutes apart. Making them the slowest moving meteors or an absolute rarity. They seem to be heading in the same exact direction so I am inclined to believe they are the same two meteors.

DSC_3813 (Custom)They are to the right of the milky way about half way up in this picture.

DSC_3814 (Custom)They are about one-third of the way from the bottom in this picture which was taken about one and a half minutes after the first picture. Now it could be possible that they appear in the last second of the first photo and the first second of the second photo but there is still the issue that the auto noise reduction in my camera takes about the same time as the shutter speed.
If anyone has any ideas about this I would love to hear them or read them actually since this is a blog and I cannot literally hear it.

Starry Nights

So we’ve been taking pictures of night skies here at the house. My goal is to capture the milky way, but so far I have not had dark enough or clear enough skies to do that.



Although some of them have come out pretty neat like the clouds in the night sky like this ( too much noise I think). Although we did catch a shooting star up toward the left top corner.

I’m really loving my Nikon D3300. I still have a lot to learn in using it though.


Anyway here are a couple of pictures.

DSC_2494 (Custom)


DSC_2509 (Custom)

DSC_2451 (Custom)

DSC_2459 (Custom)

The moon using a telephoto lens. J/K Nikon mounted on a Celestron telescope.

DSC_2470 (Custom)

So we decided to build a fountain in our front yard…..

DSC_1962So we decided that we would build a fountain in our front yard. Nothing fancy just use some of the things we had lying around as well as a few things Cindy brought up from her mom’s house.

We started with the location.DSC_1493 (Custom)


We wanted it kind of close to the house but not so close that it would get damaged during the renovations we have planned for when the house is finally paid off, (about three more years).

Then we began digging a hole. This is my son, running the tiller.
DSC_1497 (Custom)Once we had the hole dug we put in the plastic kiddie pool.

DSC_1501 (Custom)


Leveled it up and started filling the pool with water. The reason we put water into the pool before the base was to keep the base from grinding across the bottom and ripping a hole.
These pools are extremely thin. But for 20 bucks at Dollar General what do you expect?

DSC_1516 (Custom)

Hooked up the pump and made sure everything was working. Then backfilled and started adding flowers around the pool.

DSC_1519 (Custom)

After all the flowers were added we leveled off an area began adding some stepping stones I had acquired last year. They were on sale at Home Depot and I figured I could use them for something eventually.

DSC_1543 (Custom)


I then ripped a landscape timber to make some edging for the outside of the stones. Bought the timbers last year as well, they were on sale for less than two dollars apiece

DSC_1720 (Custom)

Then added a couple of bags of play sand to fill in between the stones. This will probably be changed over to crushed marble pretty soon.

DSC_1868 (Custom)Added some solar powered lights.

DSC_1909 (Custom)


DSC_1927 (Custom)


Then some rocks around the rim of the pool



This is what we have now.DSC_1995


We plan on changing the sand to crushed marble. I still have to install a weather resistant electrical outlet near the fountain and we want to get some submersible lights to put in the actual pool.
Our cost for this fountain was slightly more than a  hundred dollars total.
Stones were left overs from a previous project that were bought on sale for $1.05 each for a total of  $35.70.
One landscape timber that was left over from a previous project that was bought on sale for $1.49
The flowers were bought for a total of $23.68.
The pump was given to me by a friend.
The base was found here at the house, left over by the previous owners.
The statue and bowl were furnished by Cindy’s sister. They were originally used at her mothers place and since her death, they were more or less discarded in the back yard.
The pool was $20.00.
The sand was from a previous project and was purchased for $2.98 a bag for a total of $5.96.
The stones around the rim were given to us by a neighbor who wanted them removed from her yard.
Solar lights were $15.00

Our total cost was $ 101.83

Not bad for being able to sit out under the tree and relax to the sounds of the water flowing.

Update; DSC_2429-2