Saturday, 19 December 2015

What a night

It seemed quiet fitting that having just delivered an astrophotography training session to my intermediate photography group in Lerwick , the conditions for astrophotography that night was just perfect.

After a few very cold night with lots of ice about, Monday finally warmed up and it promised a reasonably clear night/ Monday was of course the night for the Geminid Meteor shower so I kept locally and headed down to the coast a short distance away with good all round views.

At 7.00 pm I pulled up and instantly saw the aurora, it was too much of a temptation so I brought out two cameras and mounted them on  tripods. The 18-200mm lens pointing out to the aurora which continued to develop, the second with a 11-16 mm lens pointing towards the sky.

For the second time in a couple of nights it started to rain, but this was brief thankfully, the clouds clearing. The brightness of the aurora began to change and curtains of green waved across the sky , shafts of green reaching high into the sky and also below.

As usual the lights from Cunningsburgh caused light pollution and made the clouds orange but I think this added to the photos. This aurora was the second best I have seen this year, but this one had little other colour than green visible. This wasn't the case further north and west where purple banding and shafts of light could be seen in Unst and Walls

The Aurora can last several hours or a few minutes, this one was visible throughout the three hours I was out. At nearly 10 pm it started to fade, but others saw it well past midnight. I could have well missed the whole events had it not been for the meteor shower which I intended to photograph.

Using multi shooting at 25 seconds I captured many frames but only two with meteor trails, I did however see dozens, some very bright. Most tended to be short in length, but a couple very long trails came through very bright.

Its difficult capturing meteors even with a wide angle lens, even pointing to the source did not really help and looking at what happened last night I will in future point the lens away from the centre. At over 100 per hour the Geminid Meteor shower is the best chance to capture one or more of these beauties.

Normally I am down at this spot by myself but on this occasion several other people including photographer took the opportunity of a still moonless night to see the spectacle. It was good to get out at last but the forecast for the next 10 days looks poor with gales and rain returning so this may be the last chance to get out for some night photography

It was good to see a few of the photography group managed to get some Aurora photos of their own. If you want to come on an Adult learning course either beginners - know your own camera or intermediate course ( 3 different 6 week courses) covering a wide range of photography, then contact Shetland Adult Education in Lerwick . Note the January 2016 Intermediate course is full, only a few left on the Intermediate course commencing end of February. A new beginners course starts in April