I said a week ago that we’d be off to a low light area to appreciate the August night sky.
And we did just that on Sunday night.
We packed a picnic, and camping chairs into the car, along with tripod and camera and set out for Howells Knob Lookout – just 35 minutes away.
We arrived just in time to see our nearest star set.
And we enjoyed the rest of the view for a bit.
We thought we’d then get comfortable, sit down and enjoy our meal while we waited for it to get dark.
That was when we discovered the zips on our camp chair covers had seized up and we were unable top open them. At least we had the car to sit in.
As it started getting dark, it also starting to get quite cool, but I won’t say cold. Who am I trying to kid? It was 10.5°C (50.9°F), but wait . . . the wind chill factor made it ‘feel like’ 7.6°C (45.6°F) and I would have appreciated a blanket to wrap around my shoulders. Unfortunately, we were past the point of no return before I remembered them and the darker it got, the windier it got and the colder it became. Even Dean commented on how cold he felt, and that’s saying something. I didn’t look at the temperature again, but I’ve no doubt it became considerably colder.
So there we were, in the dark, cold, chilly evening waiting for the stars to come out with no chair to sit on and no blanket to offer additional warmth.
Up to 90 minutes (or more) after sunset, the Sun was still making the western sky rather light, but the dusty sprinkling of the Milky Way was becoming visible overhead and I enjoyed standing on the leeward side of the car gazing up – although I was shaking like a leaf and telling myself over and over, “I am not cold, I am not cold, I am not cold!” and I started to get a kink in my neck.
The view was well worth the effort and discomfort but we are not astrophotographers and I’m not able to share with you exactly what we were looking at.
Dean was persistent and set the camera on the tripod and played around for a bit.
Verdict No 1: The area was not as dark as I imagined it might be. There was still a lot of light pollution coming from the nearby township and, every now and then, vehicle headlights would shine directly at us. Albeit they were still quite a distance from where we were, they were interruptive.
Verdict No 2: We have a lot to learn about astrophotography and know that the equipment we were using was far from ideal. But it is the equipment we have (and can afford) and we just need to ‘do more to learn more’.
Verdict No 3: We have decided to revisit this activity when the weather warms up and know of a perfect camping spot. With the next New Moon just 28 days away, fingers crossed we can brush up on the right camera settings and the weather is kind enough to provide clear skies.