Saturday, 16 November 2013

Going, Going Gone

After waiting for over a month to get out, we finally had a clear night on the 4 November. It was very cold but sunny all day so I hoped that it would be a good night. I met up with a friend Chris at 6 pm and headed straight into Derbyshire, its never going to be as good as Shetland for unpolluted skies but we have to make the most of it. With Sheffield at one side and Manchester at the other there is always going to be an orange glow.

                                                                                       Pleiades- Hot Blue stars found in Taurus

Setting up quickly in the dark we first found a reasonable foreground which helps composition and started to set the timer for a long exposure. I already knew that the moon wouldn't be a problem as it was new, so no extra light pollution from the source. But after about 15 mins we could see the cloud building over the Pennines  and with a strong wind the cloud was over us and obscured the stars. The following night was similar in every way, even though the weather forecast again said it would be clear skies.

This week it again promised clear skies on both the MET and BBC weather forecasts, so this time I thought I would give the Chesterfield area a try, but on arrival a blanket of cloud hid the stars and even the moon for large periods, which was nearly a full moon. Not the best time to be out photographing but I needed to get out. By 10 pm the clouds had departed and clear skies at last appeared but trying to find a sheltered spot away from traffic  was difficult around Chesterfield so i headed back to Coal Aston on the outskirts of Sheffield.

With the moon acting as a search light it made all the stars very subdued and even the plough was difficult to make out. So I gave up and will wait for another clear night. Only 6 clear nights (according to weather forecasts) have been evident in 7 weeks so far.
                                                                                       Cloudy moon skies
I will look for other dark sites, it is a big problem even going out into Derbyshire which is one of my favorite destinations as the glow is evident on all the photos.I intend to go out East next time and will look on Google maps for a location

The problem in Shetland is more to do with the wind than the light pollution, with vast areas that are not near cities, in fact any away from Lerwick, Scalloway, Voe, Sandwick would be ideal and these have low populations so less light pollution.

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