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Reaching for the stars

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(My first attempt at shooting the sky at night. The Perseid meteor shower also visible, centre frame. The line to the left is an aircraft. Also, the light on the horizon is not the moon but a cross channel ferry)

 So with yesterday being such a clear and beautiful day, come midway through the evening I decided it might be a good opportunity to try and capture the Milky Way. However, in my part of the world, finding a dark spot with little to no light pollution is hard to come by. The best place for me is about a 20min drive to Pett Level, situated half way between the towns of Hastings and Rye. Being on the south coast means that the most visible part of the Milky Way is seen looking straight out to sea.

A quick look at the weather report, showed that there would be a big bank of cloud coming through at around 1am, however, when we arrived at 11pm, the clouds were already beginning to push in. Even though this is the darkest location near to me, light pollution from the two towns was quite visible but was just far enough away to see the stars and Milky way with the naked eye.

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I pretty much knew which camera settings I would need to use and I wasn’t far off on my first couple of shots. 15 seconds, ISO2000 at f2.8 with my Sigma lens set at 18mm. After a few shots at this setting I then decided to increase the ISO to 2500. The most difficult part was trying to set the focus as best I could, as just selecting infinity doesn’t always get you the best results. I’m not entirely convinced the I nailed it on this occasion.

We we also very lucky to see a some of the Perseid meteor shower, with one really bright one going right overhead. Unfortunately not where my camera was pointing but I did manage to capture a few in some frames. ( See top image and one below, visible top right corner)

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The other factor reducing visibility, apart from cloud and light pollution, are the nights being currently at their shortest, so it’s doesn’t really get truly dark as it would during the winter months. With this in mind and looking at the results from this, my first attempt, I will definitely be returning at each new moon, when the sky is at its darkest during the winter months. Weather permitting of course.

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