The MilkyWay, A Fireball, A Wigwam And A New Toy

As I have said a couple of times before, the clear nights in Germany during summer time are just a few, and for that (if you are in “astronomy landscape photography”), you have to take those nights  by chance. Last saturday was one of  them, the MilkyWay standing high on the firmament, the Moon wasn´t around yet, and by pure chance I´d found this  huge wigwam a couple of days ago. While a was setting up the camera and doing some test-shoots, a very bright meteor, a so-called Fireball, was hitting the scene. I yelled out at the sight of this beast – never have seen such a huge one before, nor photographed one. Here is the explanation from a good site: “A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky. A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation.” You can find out more here:  I was so overwhelmed by the pure sight of this spectacle, but there was no one around to share it with. After that “flash”, I tried other compositions and finally found the right angle to get everything into the frame. The second image was made using a new toy, the Vixen Polarie, a small piece of technology, doing the work like an equatorial mount, but only with the size of a camera. With the Sigma 10.5 mm Fisheye lens, I´ve been able to do 60 sec. images without blurring the foreground and still getting sharp stars. With 120 sec. of exposure, you get either a blurred foreground, or tiny star trails (which are only visible using the 1:1 view). The solution would be to blend two different images, one with a sharp foreground, and one with dot-like stars, combined via PhotoShop. No problem now with the Polarie, but since I got no PS (yet), I used the 59 sec. single shot in this post. It´s been also very helpful to use the modified Canon 1100 d, which got an up to 5-times higher infrared sensitivity, for making the red, hydrogen-alpha nebulae more visible. That all combined with a sturdy tripod and an intervalometer, one can only be stopped by the bright rising Moon. The drawbacks of night-photography? light-pollution and air-plane traffic! and of course, it can get scary sometimes, like triggering off a light barrier while walking along a dark forest path with 18 kg of backpack – but luckily nothing happened. Enjoy!


A huge meteor, a so-called Fireball, hitting the scene. Notice the blue/green hues to the left, after that, the meteor fragmented into a bright white ball…30 sec., fixed camera;


The MilkyWay over the wigwam; single shot, 59 sec. with Vixen Polarie; the North America Nebula is visible at center top, while our neighboring galaxy, the Andromeda Nebula, can be spotted between the tent spires…


The MilkyWay with its reddish, hydrogen-alpha nebulae; 120 sec. and Cokin P 830, on Vixen Polarie…


Like the one before, but without softener; two 120 sec. images stacked….


“You are only able to see what allows you to be seen!”

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