Miscellaneous Night Sky Photography

The COVID-19 charts were up late today, but there was a good reason: I stayed up all night hoping to do some Milky Way photography, and then slept in until 11 after I got home. So how did I do?

Badly. The whole trip was a complete bust. I tried a new spot on Palomar Mountain and there was just too much light there. Also, the sky was cloudy despite my astro-app telling me the sky would be clear. And even if it had been clear, it just wasn’t a good night for viewing. I could barely even see the Milky Way, let alone photograph it.

So instead I switched gears and took pictures of the clouds. My original goal had been to take multiple shots of the Milky Way and stitch them together, thus getting a single image that showed it from end to end. Instead, I did this for the sky as I found it. This one is eight frames stitched together:

August 15, 2020 — Near Palomar Mountain, California

This picture has a certain charm, but it’s very long and thin, which wasn’t my intention. I did take a series of pictures with the camera pointed higher, but I somehow screwed up the middle batch and this was enough to cause Photoshop to choke when it tried to merge them. So the bottom series of photos is all I have.

A few miles away I took this picture of a cityscape. Unfortunately, I don’t really know just what city this is. Judging from the position of Venus, my best guess is Warner Springs:

August 15, 2020 — Near Palomar Mountain, California

This is three photos stitched together. I took a second series with a different exposure to get a better rendition of the cityscape, but for some reason Photoshop wouldn’t merge them. They were nearly identical to the first set, so I don’t know what happened.

One of these days I need to get a better idea of what the Photomerge function needs to work properly. It almost randomly seems to work on some sets of images and choke on others. When it fails, I always check the images to see if there’s plenty of overlap, and there always is. So what’s up?

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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