9:28PM, there I am, sitting at my computer, when I realized that I should check the Hubble pass timings. Turned out it was flying over just then. So I grabbed my phone, a OnePlus One, whose camera can expose up to 8s. I used my Heavens-Above app to track the exact position of Hubble, and for the first time consciously, I saw Hubble streak across the sky. Just by coincidence, when I snapped this picture, it passed right by Arcturus (the bright dot, mag -.05, 4th brightest star in the night sky). I took a few more, and then broke into my happy dance, because my first ever attempt at photographing a satellite was this epic picture 😀
[Copypasta description of my post from another site since I’m not in the mood to rewrite a similar one]
So my parents decided to take a two day, one night trip down to the Keys this past weekend. I’d recently learned about Big Pine Key, which was only about 45 minutes from Key West, and how it’s one of the best places in the southern US to stargaze.
Unfortunately, my parents are the type of people that think the darker and more unfamiliar a location is, the higher the density of rapists hiding in the trees (even though the only thing hiding in the trees were deer). My dad started cursing at me for being “stupid” (he even dropped the f-bomb, and I’ve never heard him say it in front of me) and he completely ruined my evening. My mom ruined most of my photos because she had to shine a light at every “rapist” (deer) that came from the shadows, and as you know, astrophotography absolutely cannot have any light pollution to come out right.
Then the tripod’s swivel thing decided to break, and I had to hold it steady, else holding the shutter button (on bulb mode) would cause the camera to turn wildly. The tiny movements of my hand caused blur in many of my images, and I couldn’t take an exposure longer than 2 minutes, because that’s how frequently my paranoid parents kept either bugging me or flashing lights that would otherwise ruin the photo.
Even the picture below is highly edited in order to maximize the number of stellar objects visible. Many iterations of exposure edit and levels and color balance and whatnot. I didn’t get to photograph Andromeda, but I did see it for the first time in my life. That was one hell of a sight, as fuzzy and dim what I saw.
Anyways, Comet Lovejoy appears very clearly in this image (the Milky Way is very faint, and only is visible because of extensive post processing, although it was visible when I was there in Big Pine Key), and using the position maps and its distinctive color, I’m pretty sure I’ve circled the right dot.
TL;DR: Here’s Comet Lovejoy, among many stars in a post-processed picture, taken in rather unfavorable conditions, namely paranoid parents, in Big Pine Key.