I’ve been playing around with pictures of the night sky lately, and as you can imagine I’ve had varying success here among the bright lights of Orange County. The best I can do locally is out around Silverado Canyon, which is only a so-so viewing spot. But it’s good enough to let me figure out how best to set up the camera for future efforts.

I took these photos last night, which is the last moonless night for a while. The top photo is just an ordinary exposure, with the the Big Dipper highlighted. Polaris is right in the bend of the tree, so it was a good angle. Once all that was done, I set the shutter on Bulb and let the camera sit there for a while in order to get a nice photo of star trails.

I had planned to let it go for three or four hours, and I even brought along a Mophie battery pack so my camera could last that long. But after about an hour or so, clouds rolled in and I packed up. The Clear Sky Chart for Irvine had indicated that the cloud cover would change between midnight and one, but the change it showed was so abrupt that I didn’t really believe it. However, it turned out to be almost spookily accurate, and when I woke up this morning there was actual water falling from the sky.

Still, the result wasn’t too bad. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do much better than this around here, but sometime in the next month or two I think Marian and I might take a short vacation to some nice, dark spots out in the desert. We just haven’t figured out which desert yet.

April 18, 2018 — Hall Canyon, Orange County, California

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In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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