Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

No Meteorites

My sister (via my niece) informed me on the evening of May 23rd that there was going to be a spectacular meteor shower in the early morning hours of May 24th. Since it was a moonless night with a cloud-free sky, Wisconsin was expected to be one of the best places to see this display. While it was very difficult to do, at the appointed time (a little before 1 a.m., I packed up my camera and tripod and headed up the road that leads to the Cherokee Marsh. I wasn’t sure it would be dark enough to get good photos there, but I knew it was as far as I was going to be able to go. Also, it is on the north side of town and the meteors were supposed to be coming from a place in the northern part of the sky.

Unfortunately no one had told the meteors about the show and virtually none attended.  I’m not sure why the promised show didn’t materialize but I and a half a dozen people who had picked the same location to watch the show ended up seeing virtually no meteors – nada. Still it was a beautiful night and I could sleep in when I returned home.

I subsequently looked through all of the photos I had taken that evening. I had moved the camera around to get various views of the night sky, but a group of 38 of my photos were shot from a position that faced exactly due north. I realized this when I scrolled through them in Lightroom and watched the stars spin around the northern axis. All of my photos from that location were taken with the same ISO 1600 f/4.5  30 second exposure. My exposures covered a 28 minute time period. I wasn’t sure what I would get if I combined the photos but I figured it had to be more interesting than a photo of no meteor shower. In a twist worthy of the Weekly Photo Challenge, the combined photo of no meteors turned out rather nicely, as you can see. Serendipity is alive and well, or at least was during that meteor-free morning and as I subsequently viewed my photos in Lightroom.

By the way, this photo was created using a method that is typically used to stack star trails. In that case, the exposures are typically much longer and you would normally be taking an entire night’s worth of photos. Here is a nice article about how to do this kind of stacking using a few different methods. Since I have Photoshop CS6 Extended, it was remarkably easy. I further enhanced the image in Lightroom 5.

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I have always been fascinated by the Aurora Borealis (also known as the “Northern Lights”). For those of you who share my fascination or are just interested in something beautiful, here is a very nice YouTube video of the Aurora Borealis set to some eerily appropriate music. The notes say that this was published on Aug 16, 2013  and is an edited version (by Amir Soltany – 2013) of “Aurora Borealis timelapse” (by Tor Even Mathisen – 2011) with music by Overcoming Paranoid & UlPsyEn (2013).