Stars, Meteors, and the Milky Way

So last night we broke our routine, instead of a Friday night photo shoot we did an impromptu trip to Pape Lake to watch the Geminid meteor shower, while photographing star trails.  With the temperature dipping to 34oF (1oC) and the lack of ambient moonlight (it was a New Moon), we could plainly see the immensity of the Milky Way, satellites, hundreds of aircraft moving along their flight paths.

On our eastern horizon we could easily see Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, Jupiter was in the midst of Taurus, and the star Capella was visible in the left of my viewfinder. Several meteors appeared, mostly coming from a northerly direction towards the south. One particular meteor put on a spectacular display as it incandesced blue-green with a huge orange tail that was trailing debris as it rocketed low across our northern horizon.

Below are two efforts from my evening’s night photography. First I targeted the eastern horizon from a portion of the dried lakeshore (due to the severe drought this past summer). The shoreline is clearly visible and serendipitously, Wilson wandered into the field between my camera and the wooded background to perform his light orb dance.

Eventually I changed to a southerly position next to Robert in order to show the reflections in Pape Lake and the glow of distant urban areas far in the background. I find it interesting how the manufactured glow of urban lights affects the white balance during digital shooting like this. I particularly enjoy the rich amber glow that gradates across the sky and its reflection into the still lake.  Although the wind was still, the duck and geese decoys anchored neared the shore gently moved during my long exposures, creating interesting ghost effects on the water’s surface.

Capella, Pleaides, Jupiter, and Taurus above Pape Lake, Concordi

Capella, Pleaides, Jupiter, and Taurus above Pape Lake, Concordia Missouri.

Looking South, Pape Lake, Concordia, MO.

Looking South, Pape Lake, Concordia, Missouri.

 

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One comment

  1. Dr. Ownby, Is it possible to use a telescope tracker if a photographer wanted to produce sharp images? I’ve never shot star trails, however, I have done some lightning shots in the past using film. I would think that even while tracking the earth’s rotation, one would still have a certain amount of blur, but not sure. Nice images. ;-)

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