Wednesday, August 19, 2015

STARRY, STARRY NIGHT

Camp has a big field of lawn in the center with buildings on three sides.  At night the field is lit by cabin porch lights and three very bright mercury-vapor yard lights which come on after the sun goes down.  Other than that there are no lights in the area from civilization.

I realized camp would be the perfect place to view the upcoming Perseid Meteor Shower.   DH and I talked it over with the other workers and decided it would be a good idea to invite the campers to view a clear night sky plus falling stars.

We just had to figure out how to turn off the yard lights.  Our first attempt put the whole worker trailer park in the dark.  We got some murmurings later, but they were good sports about it.  Finally we found the breaker switch for each light and knew we could put the field in darkness when we needed to.

We told the girls and their leaders that the main lights would go off for an hour or so after midnight. We encouraged anyone interested to join us on the field with warm clothes and blankets.

DH and I have camping chairs which recline so we set them up on the lawn while the campers were still enjoying their evening camp fires.  I’d also brought my camera with its remote shutter release so I could take some timed exposures of the night sky.

Before we turned out lights I took a few shots of the big dipper with the camp buildings in the foreground.  It wasn’t until later that I saw I’d also included DH’s feet as he reclined in his chair.

Even before we darkened the area we saw a few long, slow, colorful meteors with sparkling tails.  We could hear ooo’s and aahh’s going up from those who also saw the sight.

At midnight we went around and shut off the big lights one by one, and those in the cabins cooperated and turned off their lights too.

 People were scattered all over the grass in groups staring up at a sky so dark and filled with stars that the Milky Way shown like a hazy rainbow overhead.

We were seeing approximately a meteor a minute by then.  Some streaked across the sky and some were just a blip of trailing light.  Big ones brought yells of “Awesome!” from our young crowd, some of which had never seen a night sky without the pollution of street lights.

I set my camera down on my hat on the grass and left the lens open to the sky to see if I could catch some flashes of meteor.  Some of the photographs came out okay, but with only the standard constellations.  A lot of my attempts were out of focus because I was trying to adjust my camera in the dark so I wouldn’t spoil my own night vision.

 Several shots were messed up by condensation on the lens because I had no tripod to keep the camera high above the damp grass.

 We could tell by the gigging, yelling and singing that there were still groups of girls watching, or at least staying up past any kind of bedtime.

DH finally gave up and went back to our trailer.  I was still playing with my camera so I stayed up to turn the lights back on.  Meteors continued to fly across the sky in every direction in front of the summer constellations.  Still I hadn’t captured one with my camera.

Then around 1:30 a.m. I smelled skunk and felt that, even though the little critter may have been far away, the chances of him running into people on the lawn in the dark was not worth risking.  So I turned on the big lights and told everyone to get back in their cabins.

I walked back to the trailer and still wanted to try a few more photographs.  I went out to the parking lot, away from most of the lights and set my camera up on our car.  I aimed my lens straight up through the pine trees.  I still didn’t see anything unusual in my shots so I packed it up and went to bed.

It wasn’t until I tweaked one of those photos in Photoshop by increasing the contrast and bringing up the lights that I saw I had, indeed, captured my objective.

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.”  --Vincent Van Gogh

7 comments:

joeh said...

That is very cool, hard to capture, I guess if you take enough pictures you can get lucky.

I haven't seen stars like that in years, way too much light at night around here.

fishducky said...

I wish I had been with you!!

Linda Sue said...

whoa, nice shots, sister!

Florida Farm Girl said...

Oh, what a treat to catch a falling star like that!!! Night skies are gorgeous.

Val said...

That's so cool!

Carla said...

The Universe's own fireworks show. :)
I saw your title and immediately thought of Don McLean's song.

Terry and Linda said...

WOW! I wish I could film the starry starry night! Good post!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com