February Stars and Planets

_LME9609-Pano_smThe Milky Way over Columbia Lake. Venus can be seen over the ridge. Jupiter is above and to the right. Light pollution from the town of Canal Flats and atmospheric airglow contribute to the surreal colour. It should be noted these colours can not be seen by the eye but is recorded on the camera’s light sensitive sensor. 

It cleared up this weekend and only seemed fitting to get a few shots of the stars. Jupiter and Venus rise in the morning before dawn near the brightest part of the Milky Way, as viewed from this part of the Earth.

_LME9573-Pano.smThe Hoodoos and stars.

Lisa, Willow and I headed out in to the brisk -25 night. We drove south to Columbia Lake then walked to a bluff. The lake groaned below, the ice contracting in the cold. It is a sound I grew up with and always makes me feel good. I always thought it sounded like whales singing when I was a kid.

We had to wait for Jupiter and Venus to rise along with more of the Milky Way. Finally they were up. Luckily we weren’t yet frozen. Very fine morning.

Perseids 2018

hoodoos_crop_smAndromeda and a Perseid share the sky above the ribs of earth.

Lisa and I spent the night and early morning chasing shooting stars.

The smoke in the valley bottom was poor so we headed for the mountains. It was still smokey but we could see stars.

_LME8309.smLisa captures a stunning meteor emanating from the heart of Perseus.

We spent a few hours at higher elevation. The Perseids flew. Lisa and I agreed trying to get photos of meteors is like fishing. It is so enjoyable, to cast or press the shutter, and see one jump or streak beyond our line. It is a beautiful thing to watch and experience. Just like fishing she caught the big one getting the picture above.

RCE_1010-Pano.smBackroads. A Perseid Meteor flys (left) over the haze and below the stars.

The meteors were continuous but not as plentiful as other years. It could be we missed the peak. It could also be the sky was obscured with smoke, letting us only see the brightest. The ones we saw were long and often left smoke trails.

RCE_1025-Pano_smOn the benches, coming home. Mars shining through the smoke (low, left of the Milky Way). The tip of a bright meteor at the top of the frame.

On the way home the smoke thickened. We stopped here and there to document the night.

We arrived home at 5. We agreed it’s tough to stay up all night, but well worth it.

hoodoos.satalite.smUn-cropped merged panorama. A satellite points back towards star clusters, Chi Persei and H Persei.

Perseids

perseids2.17x22A meteor (left) streaks toward Perseus at tree line. The light of Andromeda Galaxy
(right, above and left of the tree branch) reaches us 2.3 million light years after
it was shone. Lightening lights the clouds on the eastern horizon.
A large rock, lit by our campfire, is covered in fossils of sea
creatures older than the light of Andromeda.
To see it is a miracle. 

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is now underway. If you have dark clear skies you may be able to see a few.

The peak is around the 12th and could be very good as the moon is young, leaving the night sky dark.

Come peak, Lisa and I will spend the night in the mountains chasing the streaks. It is difficult to predict the conditions. Even if clear smoke could obscure the sky. Tonight, Venus could barely be seen in the western horizon. Mars can’t be seen yet. Once it gets higher above the eastern horizon it will become visible.

Meteors occupy the entire sky. I often point my camera towards horizons, this year may be better preserved shooting directly overhead where the smoke is not so noticeable.

If that is the case It may be better in an enclosed space like a canyon. You see less of the sky, but what is seen is directly overhead.