December 15th – That didn’t quite work

Constellations

It was late in the evening when I caught wind of an event outside – the skies above Sydney were about to be illuminated by a Geminids meteor shower.

For the uninitiated (i.e. me), the Geminids is a meteor shower due to the object Phaethon 3200. Wikipedia is your friend, unless you don’t like people or websites who talk all types of sciencey space-talk.

For the layperson, it’s an event that will send up to 100 pea-sized objects per hour into our atmosphere, causing long, bright colourful shooting stars.

Challenge accepted!

At about 11:15pm I walked outside and looked up (and to the east), and lo and behold there was a shooting star right there in front of my eyes. It was literally within the first 2 seconds of checking.

I packed my gear and headed up to the oval across the road from St Joseph’s college. Another quick check, another shooting star. This is too easy. I was giddy with excitement.

I grabbed my kit and set up shop on the synthetic cricket pitch, aimed the camera skyward, ready for an intergalactic light show and guessing game – where would I see the first bright intruder into our atmosphere?

18-135mm lens at its widest (18mm). Long exposures set to 30 second intervals. Low ISO (100 or 200). Wide open aperture (f3.5 for my lens).

And I waited, and clicked, and waited, and clicked.

In the 90 minutes spent on that oval, I saw one more shooting star (at about the 85 minute mark), and what I thought must have been a satellite – as it travelled faintly across the sky I couldn’t make out any red/green flashers. I moved everything to track it, but it wasn’t picked up by my lens.

So all I was left with was 100 or so images of the night sky – so I chose the one taken 8 seconds after midnight. Given our weather lately, I could consider that a win.

On a bright note, at least I remembered the Airoguard.

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