There was no hint of the Aurora when we ventured out at 6.15 pm (it did show briefly at 10.30 pm) but the sky was stunning and only 5% cloud , so why on earth did the forecasts say otherwise (well it is only a forecast). They did get the wind and temperature correct with only a force 2-3 and 1 degree.
I headed to a local dark site and it could have been anywhere in Shetland but this was over at Bigton to the west and only 10 mins away.
Quickly setting up I wanted to find the Comet 46/P Wirtanen which is the brightest today (12 12 18)at magnitude 3 . It actually is closer to earth on the 16 December when it is only 11.6 M Km away and it should look bigger then.
The problem will be the wind in Shetland with force 7 winds expecting so photography will be very difficult.
Anyway the green comet did show up in the photos, despite a fuzz appearance.
Another target was the Plough, again easily picked up to the north while Mars was showing well to the south
The milky way was spectacular to the west and with no moon to provide any light pollution many stars became visible.
It makes you wonder just how many satellites are orbiting the earth when you can capture 3 or 4 in one 15 second frame. One however the Iridium satellites which produce a nice flare will no longer be flashing in the sky after this month, with new ones being launched which don't show the middle bulge.
Besides all the targets I went to photograph, it's an excellent period for Geminid meteors 14- 18 December which are usually very bright and around 120 per hour. Had it not been for Force 6-7 winds for the rest of this week, they would have been a great target with the Comet.
Coastguard helicopter and the Plough
All the photos on this page were taken with a Sony A7s and a 24mm Samyang lens, ISO6400 F2 between 10-15 seconds depending on direction
I have just finished delivering the Night Sky Photography Course in Lerwick and the revised course has gone down very well. I will be running this again next November so keep an eye out for details, places go quick.
Milky Way over St Ninian's Tombolo