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Starry Nights

I have just had two of the most incredible nights in North Wales. Usually when I am up in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere I am looking for moths or Nightjar but this time it was about stars.


I am becoming more and more fascinated with our nocturnal wildlife, through things like nocmigging (recording birds migrating via sound at night) but I was missing a piece of the nighttime puzzle - I had not really looked at stars or understood how light pollution is effecting many species.


So inspired by the likes of @DaniDarkSkies on twitter I decided to head out on consecutive clear nights in North Wales to see the stars for myself.

Winter Milky Way through the Cygnus region of the night sky over North Wales.
Milky way through the Cygnus region

The first thing you notice is how few real dark areas there are around, even in the countryside you still get the glow from nearby towns and cites. So I ventured towards Eryri National Park, a designated Dark Sky Area but called off at nearby Llyn Aled.


For someone new to using a camera in almost pitch black conditions it was a steep learning curve and I decided that although Llyn Aled is not spectacular in its landscape, it offered huge skies to get to grips with the stars and the camera.

Panoramic shot of Llyn Aled with stars
Panoramic shot of Llyn Aled

It is hard to see from the web-sized image above but I was amazed at being able to see the Comet (C2022 E3 ZTF) that has been in the news, Mars, Orion and to see Sirius, the brightest star in the image so clearly.


I have some plans to do some starry night images with some nocturnal species during 2023 (how successful it will be remains to be seen), so I am getting to grips with different techniques including some time-lapse, tried out on Venus and Jupiter setting.

Venus (lower bright object) and Jupiter (upper bright object) setting


The great thing about the time-lapse images is when you stack them you get to see the rotation of the earth in a single image, like the one below, an hours worth of images stacked to produce these star trails.

Star Trails facing  towards Polaris in North Wales
Star Trails facing towards Polaris

I am still buzzing from these last few nights, I feel inspired as well to create lots of similar style images, but there is a lot more to learn as well as hope for many more clear nights in the coming months!


I will keep you posted with more adventures soon!


Dave




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