There has been a solar storm raging over the last 2 days. Holes in the corona allow high speed plasma to escape the Sun and fly out to impact Earth – if the hole is facing Earthwards.
As usual it has been cloudy and wet in Northern Ireland but I managed to catch this last night. The almost full Moon has illuminated the foreground and clouds.
I have learnt recently about the importance of the histogram in night sky photography and am trying to “fill my histogram” and keep the peaks to the left to ensure a good exposure with lots of data – seems to be working.
Carrickhugh, Ballykelly, Co. Londonderry overlooking Lough Foyle.
Canon 5D mark 2 with Canon 24mm f/1.4 L lens. 4 second exposure at ISO 1600 and f/2.2.
Aurora parameters when taken: Kp = 4, IMF Total = 13.7 nT, 8.8 nT south. Local magnetometer reading: 115.7 nT
Weather forecast was poor for Limavady so I drove 90 miles southeast to join the Irish Astronomical Association in Delamont Country Park outside Killyleagh in County Down, near Strangford Lough.
There was quite a crowd – lovely dark site but some traffic though the carpark produced some random lights.
There is a lot of stuff flying around up there! Meteors tend to get brighter then fade or break up and characteristically go from green through to red as they ionize different gases in the atmosphere as they descend. Ive tried to weed out all the satellites and planes but have kept one Iridium flare as an example.
Entering the “ladle” of the big dipper!
In this second image, the upper streak is a Perseid, the lower one is a plane – regular flashing lights!
The brightest Perseid that I could catch.
A Perseid, riding along the Milky Way.
This is not a meteor – its an Iridium Flare – the Iridium satellites (77 planned – atomic number of Iridium = 77) were built to facilitate satellite phone communications and have large highly reflective receiver panels that catch the Sun as the satellite rotates so that you get a spindle-shaped flare that is often brighter than the stars or planets – often mistaken for a meteor – but is all white in colour.
Weather remains terrible so I have gone back on some old data. The above image is formed of 7 separate images stacked in PixInsight and then some key Milky Way features annotated.
The Summer Triangle comprises the 3 bright stars: Deneb, Vega and Altair.
The North American Nebula is a hydrogen alpha emission zone.
The Coathanger is an asterism that looks like an upside down Coathanger- its official name is Collinder 399.
I’ve always liked dark nebulae – dust and molecular clouds that obscure stars. I’ve marked in LeGentil 3, the Northern Coalsack and Aquila Rift.
Canon 5d mark 2 with 14mm f2.8L lens at f2.8 and ISO 3200 -20 second exposures.
Next time, I’ll try it with a hydrogen alpha enhanced camera and try pushing up to about 30 seconds exposure. Quite a lot of coma with this lens at the periphery.
Although this isn’t a patch on some of the very beautiful images out there, I’m actually quite pleased with this.
Taken in Ballykelly at about 0042 hrs BST – there were no NLCs and I decided to turn the camera up to the zenith.
Its the best Milky Way that Ive ever taken – there is a standard way to do this to demonstrate the quality of your site – a 20 second exposure at ISO 3200 – I tried this once before in my back garden in the town of Limavady and ended up with an orange mess.
You can see the light pollution at the mid left from Limavady caught in a passing cloud.
Canon 5D II with 14mm f2.8L II lens, 20 second exposure at ISO 3200.
I would love to claim that the bright streak is a Perseid meteor – I did see one beautiful orange example tonight, streaking across the sky – but this is just a satellite – it is just too uniform unfortunately 😦
The satellite is SL 14 R/B – Russian.
Just a faint display tonight – the eye could only see a faint glow – the camera picked up some detail and structure.
Type 1 by eye, Type 2 by camera – I checked using an astronomy programme – the Sun was within the 6-16 degree “window” below the horizon to illuminate NLCs.
Type 2 – diffuse bands and Type 3a – short straight waves – blending into the reddish twilight.
Canon 5D mark 2 with 85mm f1.8 lens at ISO200 and f2.2, 4 second exposure.
Hoping that stopping down 1 or 2 f-stops and exposing long enough to keep the histogram roughly centred will help. Still waiting for that spectacular display however! Maybe some day!
Click to zoom
My first successful capture of NLCs from a non-urban site.
Not the brightest display but there is some nice structure at 100% zoom.
Type 2 brightness – barely brighter than background.
Type 2a – diffuse bands.
Type 3a – short parallel bands.
Canon 5D mark 2 with 85mm f1.8 lens at ISO 200.1.3 sec exposure, wide open at f1.8.