Catch Meteors in a Bucket

  • December 13, 2012 · 7:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

EVENT is Full.

COST: $175 for instruction, guide and loaner equipment.  Add $65 if you wish to join me for an optional second night ($240 total).

From sunset to sunrise the annual Geminid meteor shower is the most energetic and often the most spectacular.  From a dark location as many as 120 meteors per hour can be seen.

Meteor Radiant Point (Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower)

For this event we will be bringing our photography gear, reclining cots, warm clothing and hot beverages to a remote location where we can pair the meteors with a phenomenal foreground in a clear, dry location.  Clear and dry, of course are subject to the vicissitudes of the weather.  If you've never made an effort to watch a meteor shower, you really should.  Students at the last Alabama Hills Workshop were amazed at how many meteors we saw as part of the Perseid shower!

Steven will be providing an opportunity to track the sky for long exposures similar to the one shown in this timelapse.

This time of year the cool air is often clearer. Alas the dense part of the Milky Way will be hiding behind the sun, so not like this though this is what the foreground may look like.

Baying at the Milky Way [C_061214]

Provided are:

  • Instruction, including all the content I cover in Astrophotography 201
  • equatorial mounts (3), and
  • tips and pointers on shooting and post processing.

 

The participant is responsible for bringing:

  1. Camera equipment with extra batteries and memory cards. High performing cameras are preferred, but not necessary.
    Lens: Bring a fast, wide lens (e.g. f/2.8 17mm)
    Lens: Bring a moderate (100-200mm telephoto, too)
    Bring a second (or third camera)
    And bring a tripod and Intervalometer for each camera.
  2. Intervalometer (Steven has some loaners)
  3. Sleeping bag/warm blankets, pillow
  4. Fully reclining cot or chair (highly recommended)
  5. Equatorial Mounts (optional - bring one if you have it already) with necessary hardware to mount your camera.
  6. Snacks and Hot Beverages!
  7. Layers of clothing in the event of wind, rain, or blowing dust.
  8. WAIVER OF LIABILITY REQUIRED

    NOTE: Need waiver from
    Walker,
    Yogesh

CAVEATS

For maximum benefit, you will want to be able to sleep days and remain awake at night - much of it anyway!  Consider this in your plans for driving.

Also, if it is at all possible, you may find it more convenient to meet me in Ridgecrest at about 4:00 PM.

 

Accommodations

Meals and accommodations are up to you. You CAN do primitive camping at the location (it's allowed), or and I recommend this, sleep days in a nice (cheap) bed in town. If you want something swankier - that's possible, of course, but there is no Ritz Carlton.  I've stayed in the Budget Inn and Suites and found it quite acceptable.  There is a similarly named place that is not so acceptable.

 

Location

Our base of operation will be Ridgecrest, California and we will spend nights out in Trona Pinnacles.

 

Bask-a-lisks [C_0600706-14de_st]

 

Questions and Answers

  • How long a drive is it?
    From San Jose, it's about 6 hours mostly freeway and depending on the weight of your foot ;-)

  • Why Trona?
    Because with the desert climate, dark skies, and interesting formations its a great spot. 
    Since it's BLM land, camping is allowed, too. There is a vault toilet on site - but only one for a large area.  Besides, Ridgecrest is only 20 minutes away.  Please note that a AWD/4WD is recommended, but not necessary. 

  • What about Death Valley
    Accommodations are more expensive and difficult to get in DV and frankly getting an interesting foreground is a bit harder.  DV is a backup location in case of weather.

  • What should I worry about?
    Worry about being tired. You can go, set up your camera and go back to bed in town if you like, but watching the event is more spectacular.  It might also get cold and windy.

  • Why else might I consider going?
    Steven will tell you what he knows about capturing meteors, about meteor showers, and Trona itself.  Plus you'll get a chance to use equatorial mounts and learn a bit about the night sky (basically what I cover in the Astrophotography 201 course with an emphasis on meteors).
  • Why is attendance limited?
    I want to be able to provide equipment for everyone, and it will help if we can fit into one or two cars. 

  • What about Friday and Saturday Night? Can I sign up for those nights?
    Sign up for Thursday and Friday is included for an extra $65.  I will add another event for the Friday group, but Thursday people get preference.  I have no hard plans for Saturday Night - indeed, I'm thinking of slinking off by myself to a super secret location.

  • But I have to work, can we do it another night?
    Alas, I do not have power to reschedule the meteor shower! Friday night should be good, and if you can't leave town, you can venture out to dark location near town and watch. 

  • Can I carpool with someone?
    It's actually a great idea. Be bold and leave a comment below with your interest. Understand that SCA members come from all over, and arranging a carpool is on you. 

  • Can I carpool with you, Steven?
    I am pretty sure our travel plans will be incompatible.  I am leaving earlier and returning much later than this event.

  • How will I know where to meet you?
    I'll send detailed instructions via email to the confirmed participants by December 7, 2012.  Early arrives can meet me in Ridgecrest, California (exact location TBD, but likely the Starbucks at 750 North China Lake Blvd).

  • What if the weather is really icky?
    Icky happens.  I have some contingency plans for icky including travel... but of course there is only so far it makes sense to go.
    Contingency plans include: 
    Going elsewhere
    Experiments in Light Painting
    Painting with Fire

  • I think I'd like to spend the night in Trona Pinnacles. What should I bring?
    A fancy RV, a butler and your satellite TV, of course.  Seriously, I wouldn't pick this as the first time to venture into the semi-wilderness.  Those of you who are veterans at the out-of-doors will already know what to bring.  There is a vault toilet in Trona Pinnacles.
  • What do I need to attach my camera to an equatorial mount?
    Be sure the regular tripod screw in your camera body or lens collar is accessible. If you have a quick release plate attached, be sure you have the tool(s) you need to remove and reinstall the quick release plate.
  • What do I need to attach my camera to your telescope?
    I am bringing my telescope, but I don't plan to use it. For astrophotography it is more convenient (and more instructive) for you to use your own moderate telephoto lens that you bring with you. However I do have adapters for Canon and Nikon lens mounts that will allow what is called "prime focus astrophotography".  If you don't understand what that means, that's quite all right here is a translation: bring your Canon or Nikon camera with a wide angle fast lens and a telephoto lens.  If you don't have a telephoto lens, don't worry. Be happy.  Not a Canon or Nikon? Bring the lenses you own except anything over 300 mm as that won't be practical.

  • Something else? Please ask below.

 

Join or login to comment.

  • Hai T.

    It was a cold and rainy night, not the best conditions for night shooting but we were still able to get some great shots.

    December 17, 2012

  • Robert M.

    Can't imagine having more fun hunting meteors with great company on a cloudy night in the mud. :-) In spite of the weather, which finally did clear, I learned new concepts and techniques to help improve my quest for better night sky landscape photography. Steven, fantastic as always, was patient, informative, engaging and full of ideas. Looking forward to the next event!

    December 16, 2012

  • Steven C.

    5 stars for the company. 1 star for the weather (until dawn, that is).

    1 · December 14, 2012

  • Robert M.

    Does anyone have an extra fully reclining chair I can borrow Thursday night? I'll bring along a comfy thermarest as a good backup, in any case.

    December 9, 2012

    • Robert M.

      Patio furniture tecnology has come a long way, apparently. Ace hardware has an anti-gravity chair for $60. It's a bit short, and does't recline completely flat, but as I'll be floating above it (still trying to find the on switch, though), it should be quite comfortable.

      December 10, 2012

    • Steven C.

      Sounds like a good fit if it is comfortable enough to sleep in, that is. It was very windy last night here. I was toasty warm in my 15 degree down bag. It is likely to be colder on Thursday, but less windy.

      December 12, 2012

  • Robert M.

    No problem! I'll check around for a heated version ;-)

    December 10, 2012

  • Steven C.

    An update on the weather... right now Wednesday is looking to be the worst day of the week. 75% cloud cover and winds up to 30 mph and a 50% chance of rain that should end by Thursday afternoon. By Thursday evening, the winds die down to 8mph. At the moment Friday looks pretty good... though it's too early to tell.

    It WILL be cold, however. So be well prepared.

    December 10, 2012

  • Hai T.

    Hi Steven,
    Yes, I'l meet you at the Starbucks at 4:00PM. I'll leave from San Jose at 7:30AM Thursday. I should get there before 4:00PM.

    1 · December 6, 2012

  • Robert M.

    Just to clarify, we just need to be able to easily remove and replace the quick release plate on our camera body, true? I'm assuming that an equatorial mount includes a tripod.

    December 4, 2012

    • Steven C.

      Correct. My equatorial mounts have ball heads on them with standard 1/4" bolts for attaching cameras. All quick release mechanisms are not created equal so you may have to install my plates on your camera or use your camera with no quick release. An equatorial mount usually includes a means to hold it up (tripod, pier or pillar).

      December 5, 2012

5 went

Your organizer's refund policy for Catch Meteors in a Bucket

Refunds offered if:

  • the Meetup is cancelled
  • the Meetup is rescheduled

Additional notes: No refunds for weather, equipment failure, etc.

Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.

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