Stargazing from the window of a plane at 35,000 ft

On a recent non stop Air Canada Flight from New York City to Calgary I had this past November I was treated to a window seat for an evening of Star gazing and photography.  From the vantage point of being above the clouds, you get a really clear view of the sunset and the emergence of the Stars and Planets.  This evening it was the recent conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, with Saturn nearby that gave a real treat.  I was also able to take a few pictures with my cell phone camera to record the event. 

For the first couple of hours while it was still daylight, there was not much to see, but as the airplane cleared the Great Lakes and overflew Minnesota, the planets came into view over the right side of the plane.  I must have taken over 50 images, using various settings.  But the most striking image I took was over the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota around Williston ND.  I have shared it below. 

Jupiter-Venus Transit from 35,000ft – We see the two planets on the left, Saturn is over to the right – centre.  Below is Williston, ND.  Taking a picture like this is a bit of a challenge, you have to compensate for the vibrations of a longer exposure, and mask out any cabin lights and reflections. It was a lovely sight to watch.

Mercury Transits the Sun 2019

On November 11th 2019 the innermost planet of our solar system transited the face of the Sun.   That is Mercury passed directly in front of the sun and was visible through telescopes with solar filters as a small black dot crossing the sun’s face.   The next transit will occur in 2032 which is in 33 years.   To see it from Calgary it looks like we will have to wait another 17 years in 2049!

So I set up my scope and observed the event in the cold chilly air up on Nose Hill.  After the sun climbed higher in the sky and after allowing a number of the public to get a direct view, I took this picture. Mercury is the little black dot in the upper right.  


Here I am set up

What is the best cell phone for Astronomy

Earlier this year I faced the difficult decision to replace my current cell phone at the time with a new phone, this time I wanted to purchase a phone that would give me ability to take pictures using my astronomical equipment, or just using a tripod of the night sky.  I began the search as any of us should do……. by asking Google (since is do not have a apple or amazon account)  A quick Google Search gave me a list of options to consider.    (i.e. I asked google “What is the best cell phone for Astronomy”) I was able to even get Google to point me at websites that presented side by side comparison between the leading choices.  Then I had to consider are the choices available through my cell phone provider.   This all happened around 8 months ago.  The choices now are different than the choices them. 

At the time the choices I looked at were the latest Samsung (which I have owned in the past,) the latest LG (which was the brand of my current phone,) the Google Pixel, the latest Apple IPhone, and the latest Huawei – just to annoy Donald Trump.  I have been an Android users for ever, never having owned an Apple product, but I was willing to consider it if that was the best phone based on the performance reviews I found.

Google gave links to nice websites that provided side-by-side comparisons between the top products. and the winner was:


The first photo of a dark sky the next night, just point and shoot was impressive:

Next I tried a constellation shot from my back yard, which happened to be Ursa Major

That was 8 months ago and I usually take a few pictures with the camera each time I head out after dark and the skies are clear.  This one was taken at the Mount Kobau Star Party this July in the early morning hours:

I used a Tripod with the camera mount from a selfie-stick to take steady shots that are needed in the dark for the best results, and voice activation to take the pictures.