It was an icy, cold and clear morning in late February, and I'd woken up at 4am with the express purpose of driving to my local hill, Moel Famau, the highest peak in the Clwydian Range, for a pre-work climb and photography session.
But the best laid plans...
Thanks to the hard overnight frost my car was completely iced up, I couldn't even get the doors open!
I wasn't keen on waking the neighbours by scraping away at the ice, so instead I started thinking about a Plan B.
With the stars shining brightly overhead I decided on a walk up to my local common at Buckley, which includes quite a decent lake which I hoped would be calm enough to reflect the stars wheeling by overhead.
Well I wasn't disappointed as the stars, including the constellation Orion the Hunter, were perfectly mirrored in the placid waters of Buckley Common lake.
My only problem was the brightness of the lit buildings and streetlights lining the common, so I had to be very careful in selecting my exposure, bright enough to show the stars clearly but not too bright that the luminance of the artifical lights would overwhelm the scene.
But with all the camera settings and ancillary equipment finally dialled in and set up I started shooting the hundreds of still images required to create this time lapse video.
In the end I kept filming for an hour and a half, watching entranced as Orion slowly sank towards the horizon and a satellite or two passed across the heavens on their lonely flights.
Then, towards the end of the shoot, something extraordinary happened.
I was looking up when all of sudden I saw a row of satellites pop into view, heading east to west and all following each other like a train.
I started counting but gave up around thirty, and still they came for about fifteen minutes in total.
If you watch this video carefully you can see them shooting upwards from the horizon to the top of the video frame.
Intrigued, I googled 'satellite train' when I got back home (much chilled!) and found out that what I had witnessed was the SpaceX Starlink satellite cluster, comprising sixty satellites in total.
So all in all, my 'Plan B' of a morning's photography turned out rather better than expected!
Filename - buckley stars timelapse 01
Camera - Canon EOS 6D
Lens - 14mm prime
Exposure (start of sequence) - 10 secs @ f2.8, ISO3200
Exposure (end of sequence) - 10 secs @ f2.8, ISO3200
Filters - None.
Shooting interval - 10 seconds
Location - Buckley Common, North Wales
This clip - HD 720p, 30fps (4K+, and 1080p HD formats also available)
Clip duration - 17 seconds
All content copyright © Howard Litherland 2009-2020 unless otherwise stated.