July 2020 and the big news astronomically speaking was the flyby of the reasonably bright comet C2020 F3, otherwise known as Neowise.
Here in North Wales the weather plays a big part in what can and can't be seen at night, so when the forecast predicted a clear night on Saturday 11th I got all excited about the chance of pulling an all nighter to watch and photograph the comet in our reasonably dark skies.
But I didn't want to photograph the comet in isolation, I wanted some recogniseable North Wales landmark to include in the frame to add a sense of location and to form a fixed element against which I could create this time lapse video of the comet's movement across the sky, just about 10deg; above the northern horizon.
So I needed a landmark, plus an unobstructed view of the horizon looking north, plus reasonably dark skies (although full darkness isn't achieved this close to midsummer at a latitude of 53°N).
I knew of only one place that fulfilled all of those needs, the north facing beach at Talacre, complete with the iconic Point of Ayr lighthouse sticking up out of the sands.
So I timed my arrival to start shooting the hundreds of still images required to make this time lapse at midnight, and being in British Summer Time (BST, or UTC+1) that meant the sky would reach its darkest an hour later, at just after 1am.
The sky was still pretty bright along the horizon, but at an elevation of 10°the view was dark enough to allow the comet to be seen easily with the naked eye, and given a modern DSLR's ability to see in the dark I as able to set the exposure to give a really clear and vivid image of the stars and the comet without over exposing the lovely twilight colours lower in the frame.
As the night moved along a half moon rose to the east, slowly lighting the white painted lighthouse until the sky started to visibly lighten to the northeast as dawn approached, the stars faded and the comet lost its intensity.
Time to call this shoot to and end then, after a wonderful three hours or so, but that wasn't the end of my morning at Talacre, as I hung around till well after sunrise, still shooting more time lapse at this amazing location.
Filename - talacre comet timelapse 01
Camera - Canon EOS 6DMK2 DSLR
Lens - 17-40mm zoom @ 40mm
Exposure - (start of sequence) - 15 secs @ f/4, ISO1600
Exposure - (end of sequence) - 15 secs @ f/4, ISO400
Filters - None.
Shooting interval - 15 seconds
Location - Talacre, North Wales
This clip - HD 720p, 30fps (4K and HD formats also available)
Clip duration - 17 seconds
All content copyright © Howard Litherland 2009-2021 unless otherwise stated.