Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas cheer

Even before the `Christmas Star' people have been looking to the skies, and the interest has become even greater since the arrival of digital photography. On Christmas eve I finally managed to capture some photos of the International Space Station. Bang on time, 5.20 pm it came over Sandwick very low heading towards to the moon from west to east. In Shetland it was a lot lower than down in England. 

The white line (ISS) is in fact travelling at over 22,000 mph and has been manned for just over 14 years. Its amazing that it has clocked up more than 1.5 million miles, that's the equivalent to 57, 161 orbits around the earth.
The white line effect hides the fact that it is larger than a six bed roomed house and weighs 925,000 pounds and has 8 miles of wires inside.

Pleiades shines in the night sky even through the light pollution (just to the top right of the house).
The aurora has been on a off for the last few days but cloud as usual has been a problem. In Shetland the Aurora is known as the `Merrie Dancers ' as they move across the sky. These photos taken on a very cold night looking towards Cunningsburgh
Estimated kp readings have been at 4-6 which means the the Aurora had been visible even in northern England, providing there was no clouds  present. In Whalsay conditions seem to have been better than the rest of Shetland judging by the photos that have been produced.
Still looking forward to seeing the amazing colours - reds & purples and a wider area when cloud isn't present. Sometimes the best way of finding the Aurora, is to point a camera to the north , the camera sensor can pick out the colours far better than our eyes, especially when any light pollution is present.
We started to go over towards Bigton but snow had fallen and it was becoming icy, someone further north in Shetland hit a patch of black ice which sent the car spinning 360 degrees. Its been unusual for Shetland to have these icy conditions but at least the skies are clearer.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Time Please- Intervalometer

Taking photos of the night sky involves long exposures and with most cameras only going down to 30 seconds exposure it means that you have to use some other means of controlling the time. Using a Timer remote control is the best way, this is also know as a intervalometer  which then enables you to control the exact length of time the shutter is open.

I would normally set the control unit up before going out to save time, although the display does light up so you can see what you are doing out in the field. In addition I should point out that it doesn't have an off switch so make sure you take the batteries out when you have finished otherwise you will have flat batteries when you come to use it again.You can normally pick these up for around £20 but wouldn't advise the cheapest ones.

You can also use the control to take long exposures without setting it up. Just slide the button up into the lock position then you can set the camera up for continuous shooting say at 30 seconds on the caera at f/4 for star trail photos. Having taken around 100 photos use Star Trails free software to combine them all into one photo

Shetland is having a lot of very unsettled weather with numerous gales hail snow and rain so getting out to take any photos is very difficult. I am hoping for a more settled 2015 and plenty of opportunities to get out to do some night photography.

Have a great Christmas and hope you get some clear still skies near you.Thanks again for looking at this blog, why not try my other Shetland blogs:

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Courses available

I will be running the following adult education classes in Lerwick

Introduction to Nature (Course code AL115)
Starts 19 January 2015 fr 6 weeks  9.30- 12.30

Last date for booking 10 December 2014

Digital Photography for Beginners (Course code AL116)
starts 2 March for 6 weeks f 2015 9.30-12.30 

Intermediate Digital Photography (Course Code (AL117) 
starts 27 April 2015 for 6 weeks   9.30-12.30


Digital Photography for Beginners (Course code AL119)
starts 2 March 2015 for 6 weeks 1.45- 4.45pm

Intermediate Digital Photography  (Course code AL120)
starts 27 April 2015 for 6 weeks 1.45-4.45 pm