I’ve been playing around with pictures of the night sky lately, and as you can imagine I’ve had varying success here among the bright lights of Orange County. The best I can do locally is out around Silverado Canyon, which is only a so-so viewing spot. But it’s good enough to let me figure out how best to set up the camera for future efforts.

I took these photos last night, which is the last moonless night for a while. The top photo is just an ordinary exposure, with the the Big Dipper highlighted. Polaris is right in the bend of the tree, so it was a good angle. Once all that was done, I set the shutter on Bulb and let the camera sit there for a while in order to get a nice photo of star trails.

I had planned to let it go for three or four hours, and I even brought along a Mophie battery pack so my camera could last that long. But after about an hour or so, clouds rolled in and I packed up. The Clear Sky Chart for Irvine had indicated that the cloud cover would change between midnight and one, but the change it showed was so abrupt that I didn’t really believe it. However, it turned out to be almost spookily accurate, and when I woke up this morning there was actual water falling from the sky.

Still, the result wasn’t too bad. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do much better than this around here, but sometime in the next month or two I think Marian and I might take a short vacation to some nice, dark spots out in the desert. We just haven’t figured out which desert yet.

April 18, 2018 — Hall Canyon, Orange County, California

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