Spring is aurora season, and just before midnight last night a display of the northern lights lit up the sky. Taking a test shot from the window confirmed the alert from my phone app, so I headed out the door. The display had already started to subside once I’d defrosted the car and got to a dark spot. But I got there in time to capture a sequence of 50 frames. Enough for a (very!) short time-lapse…
A meteor can be seen around half way through the time-lapse sequence, just to the right of the Andromeda galaxy. You might need to download the HD version to make it out… Here’s the ‘test’ shot taken before heading out. The display was pretty strong at this point…
Image details: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 35mm f1.8G at f1.8. All shots were 10 second exposures at iso 640. Edited and animated in Photoshop CS6.
Living in northern Europe has a few drawbacks when it comes to astrophotography. The high latitude means we struggle to see many of the best constellations. And for a couple of months a year, the summer sky stays blue throughout the night, making astrophotography impossible. But with the drawbacks come one or two beautiful phenomenon as compensation. Along with auroras, midsummer displays of noctilucent clouds are only seen at higher latitudes.
On the long summer evenings of June and July, a river of electric blue clouds will sometimes appear around local midnight. These ‘night shining’ clouds, believed to be seeded by meteor dust on the edge of space, are illuminated by sunlight travelling clear over the Arctic.
With midnight approaching on the July 7th, the unmistakable sight began to appear through the twilight. I wanted to capture the movement of the clouds by taking a series of images to create a time-lapse video. The time-lapse itself, taken between 12:30 and 1:30am local time, is made up of around 300 individual photos taken 10-15 seconds apart. These were then stitched together using PhotoLapse making the sequences into short video. It’s only brief, but it shows how the clouds flow in a river-like motion from the north. (The red lights seen at the bottom of the frame are those of Bilsdale transmitter, around 50 miles/80km away).
Click here to download HD version of the video.
Details: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 180mm f2.8 at f2.8. 1.2 seconds at iso 200.