Iridium Flare

Copyright 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved

Iridium Flare?I took this photo last month when I was shooting in Fremont Peak State Park with several Night Sky Photographers. This is one of the set-up/ test shots I took before starting my star trail sequence. After uploading the frames I was going through them and discovered I may have caught an Iridium Flare. Iridium Flare is the sun reflecting off communication satellites orbiting in space. ” The Iridium communication satellites have a peculiar shape with three polished door-sized antennas, 120° apart and at 40° angles with the main bus. The forward antenna faces the direction the satellite is traveling. Occasionally, an antenna reflects sunlight directly down at Earth, creating a predictable and quickly moving illuminated spot on the surface below of about 10 km diameter. To an observer this looks like a bright flash, or flare in the sky, with a duration of a few seconds.

Ranging up to -8 magnitude (rarely to a brilliant -9.5), some of the flares are so bright that they can be seen in the daytime; but they are most impressive at night. This flashing has caused some annoyance to astronomers, as the flares occasionally disturb observations and can damage sensitive equipment.

When not flaring, the satellites are often visible crossing the night sky at a typical magnitude of 6, similar to a dim star.” ~Wikipedia

I realize the flare is hard to see in this photo so I’ve zoomed in on it and cropped it out to enable one to see it better. It has the classic shape of Iridium Flare. I took this photo on May 11, 2013 at 9:06pm PDT.

Close of FlareI need to check out the site that has predictions to see if this could be Iridium Flare.  I think the site is called Heaven’s Above.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 16mm Fisheye lens

Update: After checking the Heaven’s Above site to see if there was an Iridium Flare predicted on the date and time I took this photo I found there was a predicted flare on May 10, 2013 at 19:31 h.  in the same place in the sky as this flare. I’m confused. Nothing was listed for May 11th. The site says all times are local. Do I need to factor in Daylight Savings time? I wondered if it could another satellite?  Searching the sites FAQ’s I found this.

Q. While I was out waiting for a flare or other satellite to appear, I saw another flare which wasn’t in the predictions. What could it have been?
A. This was probably a flare from a failed Iridium satellite. Several satellites have failed in orbit, and are not in the nominal orbit and/or attitude. However, they can still produce flares just like the operational ones. The difference is, that we can’t predict when they will happen.

Sunset from the Galiban Mountain Range

Via Flickr:
Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved

This year for my birthday I wanted to spend it photographing the Milky Way, stars, and sunset. Since I would be up all night or nearly so my family opted out. So, I joined one of my favorite Meet-up groups in Fremont Peak State Park to shoot the stars.This Sunset was the beginning of an awesome night out. The sunset was fantastically beautiful, and the sky cleared for us to get wonderful photos of the Milky Way., and Star Trails I was up on the Peak when the clock hit Midnight May 12th…my birthday. Myself and several friends shot until after 4AM. I arrived home at 9AM on Sunday morning tired, but happy. I spent the rest of the day relaxing then my family took me out to dinner for my Birthday/Mother’s Day combo.
I feel so blessed right now to have such loving and supportive family. I’m heading to bed soon. I’ll probably fall into a deep sleep as soon as my head hits my pillow.
I hope all Mom’s reading this had a wonderful day, and a great week-end!

Nikon D700| Nikkor 17-35@24mm| f/8| 0.8sec| ISO 200| Matrix Met| Tripod| B+W 6 stop ND filter| 2stop Singh-Ray Grad ND

Campsite 24

Campsite 24, originally uploaded by dmzajac2004-.Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve wanted to shoot my tent under the stars for about a year now. Last night the opportunity arrived. It’s not the shot I’ve imaged, but it was good practice and a great learning experience. As always there are a couple of things I’d do differently, but overall I like this shot.

I had a lot of fun hanging out with like-minded photographers last night, and I hope to do more shoots like this as the weather gets a bit warmer.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 24-70 @ 24mm|  f/3.5| 48 frames each 121 seconds| ISO 160| Manual Priority| Tripod| Developed in LR4.4| Stacked in CS6