Thursday, August 23, 2012

Star Fire

A dark sky outing with friends to Lassen National Park in Northern California was hampered by two large forest fires in the area.  For multiple nights we dodged smoke and clouds for a glimpse through to some of the darkest skies California has to offer.  Finally on Saturday night, August 18, the smoke and clouds had abated and we drove up to the Bumpass Hell parking lot full of anticipation for a night of imaging and observing.

As we entered the Park an ominous white cloud billowed high in the West.  A new fire had started from a lightning strike only a few hours earlier.  As darkness fell the eerie glow would presage the dangerous fire that it would become over the next 48hrs.

The conjunction of Mars, Saturn and Spica (lower left) in the fiery glow of the Ponderosa Fire.  
Click on either image for a larger version where you can toggle the annotation.
The Ponderosa fire is still burning - nearing 25,000 acres with up to 50 homes and structures burned.  Evacuation warnings have gone out to the little town of Mineral where we stayed.

The fire glow over the ridge died down with the coming of night and we enjoyed a nearly perfect night of observing.  It was a very narrow window as I am sure the smoke from this fire has darkened the skies over Lassen again.

Star Fire

Taken at Bumpass Hell parking lot, Lassen Natl. Park,   August 18, 2012
Canon T2i (stock), Canon EF24 mm f1.8
Manfroto Tripod (stationary)
Mosaic of 4 frames, each 8 sec exposures @ ISO1600
no dark or flat subtraction
vignetting and lens correction in Lightroom 4
frame stitching in PTGui Pro
final adjustments and noise reduction in Pixinsight

1 comment:

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