Perseid fireball

perseid-meteor-in-cygnusThis year saw perfect conditions for the annual Perseid meteor shower. With the Moon out of the way, and clear skies for the main event. The aim was to do better than last year, and if possible capture a rare fireball.

I used the super wide angle Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 to give myself the best chance of grabbing the shot.

In the first image, captured a couple of days before the peak, I got lucky with a bright meteor passing through Cygnus. But better was to come with another clear night on the peak of the shower…

perseid-fireballAt around 12:30 am a stunning fireball lit up the sky. A super bright exploding meteor, a bolide, passed directly overhead! Frustratingly I only captured the start of the meteor trail, with the brilliant explosion happening out of frame.

After hastily moving the tripod, I took a sequence of shots of the still glowing ionisation trail left by the meteor, which persisted for several minutes. The animation of 30 second exposures shows the trail dispersing in the upper atmosphere.

Details: Nikon D7000 with Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. 30 second exposures at 11mm, f2.8 and iso 1600.

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Aurora through the mist

Last night a solar storm hit Earth producing one of the strongest auroras of this solar cycle. Unfortunately for me, a misty evening drowned out much of the show. All but for 20 minutes when the silent display flared up strongly enough for me to catch a glimpse… Continue reading Aurora through the mist

Northern lights

The Aurora Borealis is a pretty rare sight from England. The last time I saw one was back in January 2005! Last night however, everything came together and the illusive northern lights showed up once more.

I know from experience that it pays to check if any auroras are forecast (99 times out of 100 they aren’t!). Websites like spaceweather.com or noaa.gov provide this info, and even offer services to alert you by phone. Checking last night showed an aurora in progress, so I dropped everything and shot out the door. The animation below shows the scene around 5 minutes before the most active part of the display.

Aurora Borealis over york uk

I was able to get out to a pretty good location with an attractive little church and less light pollution just prior to a 15 minute burst of stronger activity, when the skies lit up with fast moving curtains of red and green.

Aurora Borealis from york england 2014

The display died down after this, but continued for at least a few hours more, visible as a shimmering curtain of light hanging above the light pollution of York.

aurora york uk 2014

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The Milky Way

First attempt at shooting with the home made ‘barn door/scotch mount’ star tracker – I’m amazed how well it works!

This single 3 minute exposure was taken using a borrowed lens in the amazingly clear skies of the North York Moors. The detail shown in the shot at full resolution is amazing (click here for a larger view). The Tokina 11-16mm also worked extremely well. Much sharper and faster, with less distortion and vignetting than the Sigma 10-20mm.

I’m hoping a new ‘didymium’ filter/red enhancer I recently bought from eBay (for £15) will help bring out the nebulosity, while also combating light pollution at the same time. I’ll give it a try near my over illuminated home town in the nights ahead.

Details: Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f2-8 at 11mm and f4. Single 3 minute exposure at iso 1600. Tracked with barn door tracker.

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