Day 348 (13 Dec 2012) Star Trails, or Lessons Learned

So the night of the 13th ended up having an amazing meteor shower!  I saw lots and lots, from really bright to dim in the two hours I was out watching.  Prior to going out I planned my shoot to a T, I thought: I found an image stacker designed to make star trails from individual images (the best way to make them w/o lots of noise or being affected as much by light pollution), had my camera settings set, used a dark sky site to find the darkest area around here, located several candidate sites, make a thermos of hot coco, dressed in LOTs of layers (it was 24F / -4C), put toe warmers in my boots, packed a sleeping bag to wrap in if needed, loaded all my camera gear (inc. the wired remote) and headed out.

First lesson learned: remember to pack my camp chair!  I wasn’t going to foul up my sleeping bag on the rocks/dirt.  Second: don’t forget to put the extra hand warmer on my lens.  I brought an extra for that reason to keep it from icing.  I forgot till too late.  Third: it appears most meteors are visible around the horizon (I didn’t catch any in an hour, yet saw dozens).  I pointed at the Gemini constellation, as thats where I read most would start from, which was almost straight up.  Also, pointing up more exposes your front lens element to space more, which will cause it to cool to colder than the air and get ice/condensation faster (leave a comment if you want the science behind this, and I’ll explain)  Fourth: a scraggly tree does not provide a good foreground subject against streaks of light.  Fifth: don’t knock over your glass-lined thermos on the rocks, because the glass inside will break 😦  Sixth, and maybe most important: DO NOT stop the camera sequence, unless you want to start completely over.  Notice the gaps in the trails?  Those each are from a 30ish second gap in shooting.  I had do delete one image because a car drove by and illuminated the tree.  Pulling out the aircraft light images make it look a lot worse due to a lot more gaps.

So, I count this expedition a success!  Yes, my image isn’t what I hoped for, but the next one will have some more knowledge to do this better 🙂  Like not setting up near a road, being more careful w/ my thermos, setting up the camera pointing in a better position and leaving it alone!

2012_Dec_13_StarTrailsComposit-1-2

The software I used for this is StarStax.  Click on the link to get it!