Starry Night – Bright as Day

Starry Night – Bright as Day

I’m back in the Lou again and I’m back at work too. Yesterday, I braved another marathon rocket shot and drove all the way back home from the cabin in just one day. 750 miles makes for a long day; especially when you are doing all of the driving by yourself.

It is still hot here. How hot is it? It is triple-digit hot, 106 °F to be specific. It is so hot and dry that I predict that it is going to take a hurricane to break this summer’s heat spell and drought. It will actually only be the remnant of a hurricane by the time that this first named storm hits Saint Louis, but it will dump a bunch of rain and breakup the prevailing weather patterns that have us locked in their grip this summer. Unfortunately for Saint Louis the hurricane season is still too many weeks away.

The photo with this post is another one of my night photographs from last week at the cabin. I had high hopes for some spectacular night shots, but this one and a few more are the only ones that are even presentable. I had hoped to capture the Aurora borealis and one night last week there was a large flare solar event that promised an excellent opportunity to observe and photograph the northern lights. I checked the websites that do Aurora borealis forecasts and I was well within the observable region, but unfortunately the weather forecast was not onboard, cloud cover spoiled that one and only chance.

Another photo-op missed was something called the Iridium flash or Iridium flare. The Iridium satellite constellation is composed of many low earth orbit communications satellites. The Iridium satellites are what make satellite telephones work. You know the kind of mobile phones that news reporters use when they are in a remote location, like Afghanistan? The Iridium satellites have several key features that make observing and photographing them interesting. First, they have a single large solar cell panel. When this panel is properly aligned, it causes a bright reflect flash of sunlight. It can be as bright as the full moon, bright enough to be seen in daytime. Now this flash is narrowly focused, so it can’t be seen over a wide area, just tens of kilometers. There are many Iridium satellites and they travel in a low earth orbit, so these events are reasonably frequent. My problem here was a combination of my unwillingness to stay-up all night and some faulty forecasting. So, I never got to see any of these flash events.

Finally some of my problems were of my own making. I learned today that I didn’t have all of the settings on my camera set properly. Now I have corrected these mistakes, so that next time I might be able to generate better pictures. Practice always makes perfect. Isn’t that what they say?

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