Posts Tagged: Milky Way

June 23, 2011 – Stars over Grand Coulee

Stars over Grand Coulee

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Well, how’s that for irony? I finally got around to uploading those pics I was talking about, and then I never got around to posting one. Whoops. Oh well, here you go, one day later than intended. And, as you can clearly tell, this is not a photo of the northern lights.

That’s because I didn’t see any northern lights.

Also, this is facing south-ish.

I was out looking for the northern lights, but I don’t think they were quite visible at my latitude. The forecast said they should be, but I was pretty close to the forecasted limit, so I don’t blame them too much. I know what you’re thinking though – why would I expect to see the northern lights from inside a big canyon? Yeah, yeah, I know.

The problem was, first I needed to find clear skies. And that turned out to be a lot more difficult than it should have been. The clearing that was forecasted (by a different set of forecast people) didn’t work out either, so I had to head about 3-4 hours east of Seattle before I could even see stars. I was at that point heading northeast from I-90, through Grand Coulee. That’s where I was when I took this. No northern lights, but a nice view of the sky. So I stopped to take a few pics.

Depending on how bright you have your monitor set, you can pretty clearly see the milky way here, and I believe some “city” lights (from the “city” of Soap Lake) down there at the bottom. This was a 45 second exposure, which I discovered was about as long as I long as I could go before the natural movement of the stars started showing up in undesirable ways. (Right, right, it’s not the stars that are moving, rather it’s the Earth that’s spinning. Shut up. The stars were moving relative to my point of view.) That was surprising to me. I mean, of course I know that you get a lot of movement in long exposures, but I figured I’d have to go an order of magnitude longer (like, say, 10 minutes or more) in order to actually see movement in the resulting image. But no, anything over a minute showed just enough blur to be annoying. I mean, sure, you can make cool pictures that have big long star trails. But in order for those to not suck, you have to have them be long enough to not just be mistaken for camera shake or for your focus being off. Plus, the effect was exacerbated since I was looking south. (Since the further away you get from the north star, the more movement you get.)

But anyway, here’s today’s picture. That’s all. Move along.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. 45s, f/3.2, ISO 800. Focal length: 11mm.

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