Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Starry, starry night....

Late, late Sunday (August 12 or 13) I stayed awake for 25 hours and joined 7 fellow members of my Photo Group on a dark (very dark) boardwalk in a marsh, to  take photos of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. 

I hope the others in the group did better than I. My shots were of the starry, starry sky but none showing shooting stars, meteors, comets, satellites or other streaks of celestial light in motion.

OK, of course I know the stars were moving (or we were) and they rose higher and higher above the marsh horizon. I did shoot the "Big Dipper" the only galaxy cluster I recognized.

We had gathered in a Wal-Mart shopping center at 2:45am Monday morning and then drove in a convoy 22 miles to a national forest, Cape Romaine, parked and then hiked 1/3 mile ( it seemed much longer) along a path in dense woods, teeming with skeeters, ticks and - possibly - lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Eight people with flashlights strung out on the wooded path, backpacks filled with snacks, bottled water, bug spray, several cameras, timing devices to snap continuous 30-second photos for hours and large tripods. 

I had my usual Point & Shoot small Canon S90 digital camera. Two of them actually, just in case one malfunctioned at 4 am a long, long way from civilization.

The bugs were not as fierce as we had been told to expect. I was more concerned with ominous Critter sounds coming from beneath the wooden boardwalk where we had set up. 

What does an alligator sound like in the dark? Or an upset possum? I was told that even shrimp make noises. Good grief.

I'm assuming sensible snakes were asleep at this hour.

I came home around 7am, took a shower and dropped my sweaty shirt and jeans into the washer to kill all the ticks I'm sure hitch-hiked home with me. 

The cat was confused with these new activities at strange hours. She left me alone as I adjusted my sleep mask, put in earplugs and started snoring close to 7:45.

I slept till noon and then uploaded what I had shot.

I did see a lot of streaks but found that I had not caught any with my camera. 

They either flashed overhead right after my shutter closed on a 15-second exposure.

Or I saw them to my left or right of where I was aimed. 

I was taking single shots. 

Others were automated, snapping hundreds of pictures that they could layer together with post-production software.

I had enjoyed a night out with friends, savoring the darkness, the conversations and the humid setting.
I smiled as I remembered the policeman who had quietly glided up to our several cars  gathered in the
otherwise deserted Wal-Mart lot around 2:30 am. 

I explained who we were and why we were there. He seemed relieved!

Will post some more of the pictures soon if I see something really different. 

Right now, I'm thinking another nap would be good. 

The cat seems resigned to this disruption of her routine.. 

She's a sweet kitty. And very quiet while I sleep.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

Others will be uploading their photos of  the star chase that evening/ early morning.

Go to the Photography Group site to see some actual star trails and meteors.

Some were stymied by clouds or excessive light "pollution" at other locations.

If nothing else, our leader Alistair Nicol knew where to take us and showed us how to enjoy snapping in a pitch black setting. He's posted a time-lapse view of the morning.

Thanks Alistair and members of the Photo Group.

These meteors come around every year.

I better let the cops know to expect us.

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At Tue Aug 13, 09:35:00 PM , Anonymous Judy Reeves said...

You awake yet? Just thought I'd check in and see how the starry starry night excursion went. HOpe you're not too disappointed that you didn't capture any shooters, er, shooting stars. So overcast in SD I couldn't see a thing except the city lights reflecting back down. Well, maybe next August.


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