Chasing Orion

I’ve been on a quest to take tracked Orion pictures to get longer exposures so that I can bring out Barnard’s Loop. Stacking in DSS doesn’t work for me (don’t know what I am doing, really, but I was able to bring out some of the red stuff by just using Lightroom). By the way, I am using an astro converted Sony a6300. And since I have so many shots, I put together this time-lapse movie:

So this is how my adventure shoot went. I wanted to go to the end of Denning Road in the Catskills, an hour and forty-five minutes from my house. The forecast called for good-to-great conditions. The skies had cleared up on schedule while I was still at home, so I got my gear together and drove off.

Now I’m driving north and I see clouds in the distance. Hmm. I stop at the Neversink Reservoir and there are no stars to be seen. Bummer— but who knows how the situation can change? So I continue. Finally, I arrive at my destination around 8 p.m. Still no stars.

Using a lens warmer proved to be useful. Photo by George Preoteasa.

I was hungry and I brought some supper, so I decided to eat before returning. I took my time, and just as I finish eating, I peek out and see a really bright object. A plane? I lower the window and, incredibly, the sky is completely clear. Orion is high up already. I have to hurry.

The parking lot was plowed but icy, so I had to put on the microspikes for traction. I set up, fist on the tripod to take a few test shots for framing, then polar aligned, then started shooting. It was already 9:00. I retreated to the car at some distance, making sure I didn’t trigger any lights. The sky was gorgeous, you could see the Milky Way so well.

Later on I checked and felt some dew on the tripod. I was sorry I didn’t use the lens heater, so I took it out and carefully put it on to avoid messing up the setting, especially the focus. But I had to wipe the lens and mess up a shot. So basically, for a time-lapse movie, I have to start over. It was just before 10:00.

Now I have to wait. I get back to the car (running non-stop), read from my tablet, listen to some CDs, take a nap, go out and walk around a bit, look at the sky. It’s so quiet and beautiful. Finally, around midnight, I figured I had enough frames for a time-lapse, so I stopped the shooting and dismantled the setup. Most of it was frosted, only the camera and lens were clear. The intervalometer on top of the camera was frosted.

I got back home safely after 2:00. So that’s my adventure in nighttime photography. The moral is this: you have to go even if the conditions don’t look good at the moment. If you’re not there, you don’t get anything. If you are there, you still have a chance.

Related Articles

Contribution of Women to the field of Astrophysics and Astronomy

For most of its 25 years in space, the Hubble Space Telescope has been astounding people all around the world with its beautiful images. Its scientific instruments have revolutionized our understanding of the universe and its history. But this is not an article about the Hubble Space Telescope; rather someone we have to thank for clearing the pathway for its success, and many other contributions she has made to NASA and understanding of astronomy.