February 3, 2012

Iridium 37, Flare Near the Dipper

Finally! An Iridium Flare! I took this shot last night at just after 7 pm. You can see the big dipper in the picture, and if you follow the two stars at the end of the bucket you can see Polaris near the edge of the photo. The flare itself is the bright thing in the middle. 

I got to where I was going to shoot it about 10 minutes early and set up the camera. I knew that it was going to be 40 degrees in altitude about 25 degrees east of north. Having it so close to Polaris made it easy.

I did a few test photos to make sure everything was all lined up correctly. Then sat in the car to wait. The flare was to peak at about 10 seconds before 7:17, so I went back out at about 14 minutes after according to my cell.

My cell phone clock is about 2 minutes fast, and I know that, but when it hit 7:16 I saw a satellite coming from the right direction about to pass just out of the frame to the left. I almost moved the camera, and if I had I would have missed the real one. 

I saw the satellite around zenith, straight overhead. When came into where I knew the frame was I pressed the shutter button. I knew that if I just used a 30 second exposure it would get cut in half again, so I used a bulb exposure. The exposure ended up being just a tad under 70 seconds.

I quite like the result, and I think it is pretty cool how precisely these flare can be predicted. Anyways, that was my yesterday night.

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