Catching an Iridium Flare – Part 2

From the Starry Night Program

From the Starry Night Program

   This morning was another opportunity to catch an Iridium Flare and this one involved Iridium Satellite # 77. Using the Starry Night program I noted that the path it would follow would be a little west of south and would be below the area of the Pleiades and the Hyades.
   So with that information I aimed my camera and set the exposure time for 2.5 seconds, opened the aperture to 4.0, and set the ISO to 800. Raising the ISO to 800 or 1600 allows me to use either a faster shutter speed and or a less open aperture. By doing this it sometimes eliminates the need to digitally enhance the picture by adjusting brightness and contrast levels for example. And it probably goes without saying that taking a time exposure picture requires a tripod and of course a camera with manual settings allowed.

   Click here to see a full screen size labeled picture of the area. Notice the airplane in the lower right. This picture is actually 25% of the original. Click here for the original picture (5184 x 3456).

Light Paths: Satellite - Airplane

Light Paths: Satellite – Airplane

   The slideshow below is from the pictures taken just before and after the maximum brightness. Watch the airplane as it moves from right to left. Compare the light trail it leaves behind with the light trail from the satellite before and after maximum brightness. The satellite is a solid line from reflecting sunlight while the airplane light trail is like a series of dots on a line – from the blinking and flashing lights on the plane.

   Click here to read about and see additional pictures of the ISS and Iridium flares.

   To pause the slideshow move the cursor over the pictures to bring up the controls.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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