Eclipse of the super blood moon

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I went mooning last night, and got a spectacular view of the super-mega-ultra blood moon eclipse. The skies in Boston being perfectly clear which made for some great photographs. I shot the picture below from my roof, surrounded by all the light pollution of Kendall Square. I was surprised by all of the stars which showed up in the photographs, which were not visible to the naked eye.

Blood moon eclipse over Boston

Blood moon eclipse over Boston, taken from my roof in Cambridge at 10:47pm, near the peak of the eclipse. This was 3 second exposure with a 200mm telephoto lens.

Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbird

I found a dazed ruby throated hummingbird on the ground in front of the door to the ChemE department, and nursed it back to health.

Today on the way in the front door at work, I looked down and there was a hummingbird on the ground! I almost stepped on it. It was lying on its side and seemed dazed, so I picked it up and moved it out of the way of traffic. It was a cold morning, so I brought it into the sun to warm up. Another postdoc got some sugar water, and we fed it and had plenty of time to take some great pictures while it recuperated. We suspect that it probably flew into the window. After sitting in the sun for a few hours, it flew away. What a neat experience to hold a hummingbird!

Canon A570 IS movies

This winter I bought a new digital camera, the Canon A570 IS. It was a great purchase. It was inexpensive, takes excellent pictures, has optical image stabilization, nice manual settings, uses AA batteries, and has very little lag between when you press the shutter button and when it actually takes the picture. It’s movie mode is also great, although it takes MJPEG videos, which are very large. I spent a very long time figuring out the best way to edit the videos and then compress them to some standard format. I chose Cinelerra as my video editor, and Microsoft MPEG4-v2 as my compression codec.

Unfortunately the movies do not load correctly into Cinelerra the way the camera saves them – the audio is messed up. I found I had to run the movies through mencoder using this command before I could open them in Cinelerra:
mencoder input.avi -ovc copy -oac pcm -o output.avi

When I was done composing my movie in Cinelerra, I export the movie using the “Quicktime for Linux” file format and choose “Uncompressed RGB” from the video setup menu and “Twos Complement” from the audio setup. The movie that gets rendered is huge, but then I compress it with ffmpeg to MPEG4 using this command. The resulting video will play in Windows Media Player. qscale sets the quantization level, and is an alternative to setting a static bitrate:
ffmpeg -i input.avi -f avi -b 2000k -qscale 5 -vcodec msmpeg4v2 -acodec mp3 -ar 48000 -ab 128k output.avi