Thursday, 13 August 2015

Astrophotography during the Perseids

OK, so not quite amateur radio or electronics, or is it?

Last night myself and Sam stayed up late and camped out to watch the Perseids meteor shower. The best of which seemed to come just minutes after we started observing at about 22:00 and in fact before the sky was fully dark. We saw some excellent meteors, including one that Sam sadly missed that left a very long lingering smoke trail.

At about 23:00 I started the SLR taking 30sec 18mm f/3.5 ISO1600 exposures, with a 15sec delay between each. Out of around 90 shots, three show definite Perseid meteors. One of them actually might show two - but something knocked the camera during exposure! It also has three satellites in that shot!

The picture above is the clearest Perseid captured. Sadly my skies are not as dark as i'd like them, and at 30sec the light pollution from sodium vapour street lamps is making itself known. This frame is centered roughly on the constellation of Cygnus, which nicely exposes the galactic plane.

Now, have a look at the photo above, another meteor? No, this one appeared in three consecutive shots - its a satellite! If you look very closely at the lower right, you'll see another traveling bottom right to top left of frame. This could be the tenuous link to amateur radio - which satellite is it? Is it an OSCAR? Maybe later I will check the photos metadata for the time, and see what satellites might have been visible

And this one, is that a satellite? It looks more like a meteor! But its neither! This also appeared in consecutive shots - its a tumbling spent rocket body! One thing I forgot to account for though was dew formation, so ive rather a lot of shots that are unusable because the lens fogged up!

So many people never look up more than a few feet over their own heads! And yet there is all this to see, if you just take the time.

So, in just a couple of hours skywatching we saw meteors, satellites, rocket bodies, stars and constellations, and a wonderful view back into the heart of our own galaxy. Add that to a good karate session, a beautiful sunset, and seeing a bloke riding a penny farthing - a great evening.

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