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Astronomy buzz is a lot like the National Enquirer - sensational, trashy, and often times just plain wrong.  How many times have we heard about the "Comet of the Century"?  A while back we learned of a possible new meteor shower that was going to be more like a "meteor storm"!  They were a new set of meteors that were formed in 1988 when a comet dissolved and left a shower behind.  Earth went through this area on Saturday May 24th  and many reports had it hyped to the extreme.  

They were called the Cameleopardis after the constellation named after an early Roman name for a giraffe.  So there I was on early morning watch (3:18 - 5:00) at the tennis courts at Shawshank.  Lawn chair, tripod, camera and extra battery, I stood vigil looking up at the sky, waiting for a storm of meteors.  And looking.   And looking.  Snapping pictures for 30 second durations hoping to glimpse a meteorological event of the century?, decade?, week?.

Working on various exposure settings, first Auto, then Aperture-Priority, then Manual.  I had lots of time to tinker.  One of my first shots seemed a bit underexposed.  

So, I sit in my lawn chair and after each 30 second exposure I push the shutter button again and wait.  This is a rather monotonous procedure but it gives me plenty of opportunity to make sure no errant gator has crossed the picket line and is eyeing breakfast. 

  Every so often, after a few minutes at one location, I then turn the camera around to a new one.  I readjust my chair, and off we go again, occasionally fiddling with a new aperture, or new length of exposure, and maybe a different ISO.  

Since I am in a large city, and with Tampa to the North East, Sarasota to the South, and Clearwater/Largo to the North, my opportunity for real dark sky is limited.  All of my shots battle ambient light but there is not much I can do, short of packing up my gear and heading to some country road across the Skyway and maybe over to the Parrish area.  Might do that sometime, but this being Florida, home of the Whacked, it might be a bit perilous.

In this shot I happened to have captured what looks to be a nebulae.  Isn't that rather neat?  Maybe I'll put on my zoom one of these nights and see if I can find it - maybe get a little closer, and clearer.  

Sadly, the Cameleopardids were a bust round here.  Some people spotted them further north, but the ambient light and lack of activity around here made it a virtual bust.  I did, however, get a shot of a plane traveling north.  

In this shot, I got up from my chair and stretched a little, and entered the exposed area from the right.  That is my head on the right looking like a shadow.  I wonder if Ansel Adams ever made that mistake?

And before I knew it, the moon was rising, and the sky was getting lighter.  My continued journey through the art of night photography wasn't much a thing of art as much as it was a chance to get up early and fiddle with settings.  It was just enough interesting to want me to go out again, meteors or not and see what I can do with the magic box.   


  1. Maybe the BFE sky would be accommodating for some good night shoots? I'll leave the lights on for you.


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