I know, it’s not something you normally hear someone say holding a camera, however it’s how I felt this morning.
Normally when I’m Driving home in the early hours (this time I was not driving home from a night shift but dropping Jools off for work). It was just after 0500 hrs when I jumped out of the car fully intending to go for a lie down until the more respectable hours of the day. However something struck me when I stood next to the car, how quiet the distant roads were, and how crisp and clear the stars looked. Now it is a good while since I’ve really tried taking any astrophotography shots, the last time I tried really I was using film, now I use the Nikon dSLR it was a bit of an adventure really.
My first problem was focussing the camera, I used to work with a Bronica which had a huge bright viewfinder to compose the images and focus through; the Nikon on the other hand has the usual small viewfinder which I find a bit dark to compose and focus through (at least for astrophotography I do), and I must remember to turn off the LCD information screen, it’s surprising how blinding it can be to have the screen light up an inch from your face when you’ve just about adapted your eyes to the dark.
Anyway my first image was of Orion, he was standing just above the trees and is a easily recognisable form that a photo is often worth taking…
After that I tried extending the exposure time slightly…
Moving on from Orion I tried The Pleiades, Taurus is also included, well, it barges in everywhere 😉
My final image was a wide angle shot looking towards Polaris…
At this point the Eastern sky was starting to get light and I thought it time to goes inside and warm up with a cup of coffee or two whilst the photographs uploaded. Now I like the images, but they suffer in some respects The orange glow the creeps into the longer exposure of Orion and Polaris is evidence that we don’t live far enough from town. Whilst we live a couple of miles or so out of town the light pollution is becoming obvious. Now when you look at the night sky or a clear night you may see no sign of light pollution with the naked eye, start taking a photograph or two and you soon realize that there is far too much light around these days nights.
Of course this will not bother 99%* of the population but I find it a bit sad that in a few years time the night sky won’t be something that we can look up at in wonder, as the light pollution that only appears on photographs now will continue to get worse and worse until you can only see the brightest of stars on a clear night. I know that many people that read this will still be thinking to themselves so what? Well, it’s not the fact that the stars are slowly vanishing from view that niggles me, it’s the fact that they may not inspire someone in the future. I’m not talking about inspiring someone to become the next Stephen Hawking, but the night sky can inspire an artist to paint, a writer to write, and of course lovers to cuddle just a bit closer (though that may be because of the cold).
It’s a bit annoying too really, as light pollution is something that is fairly easy to resolve; for one those 1000W security lights don’t really need to stay on all night, nor do they need to point into the sky – unless you are so paranoid that you imagine burglars parachuting into your house rather than sneaking through an open window. Street lights can be installed that point the light downwards rather than all over the place, I can see the point of a street light illuminating a street, I can’t see the point of it illuminating the sky. You also need to consider the energy which is wasted illuminating the sky with security and street lights, any stray light is wasted energy, with the current panic over the credit crunch wasting energy is like throwing money away and that is something which I don’t like to do 🙂
Rant over, honest!
*This statistic is as reliable as many you’ll seen on the internet 😉