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Rainbows, Milky Way Astrophotography

Posted: 4 August 2021

The Monsoon took a slight break as August 2021 started. However, Sunday, 1 August was still mostly cloudy. Monday, 2 August, was partly cloudy until a surprise strong thunderstorm arrived late afternoon. As the storm approached from the east there was a nice double rainbow, followed by some heavy rain. Photo taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max (0.5X lens, cropped).


When the storm ended after 1 hour 10 minutes of rain (0.5") we had another nice rainbow over Oracle! (same settings)


There was a report that the storm was a "microburst". Some parts of Oracle had more rain. There was also strong wind from the storm. Sue Armbrust, an Oracle resident, took this photo (used with permission) from Highway 77 as she approached Oracle.


A professional photographer in Tucson had contacted me about a month ago and expressed his desire to have me teach him how to photograph the Milky Way. We decided to go to Oracle State Park, our local IDA International Dark Sky Park, on the next clear night. Finally, on Tuesday, 3 August, the sky was clear. We met at the Park about 1900 MST, 20 minutes before sunset. We set up our cameras before it became dark and I discussed some astrophotography techniques. We also became better acquainted and learned that we have had many similar experiences in our lives.

I initially had him taking sky photos with his camera mounted on a camera tripod. Later we mounted his camera on my iOptron SkyTracker Pro for longer exposures of the night sky using the tracking mount.

While he was taking his initial photos, I did some Milky Way astrophotography using my Nikon D850 DSLR with a 14mm UWA lens and then an 8mm fisheye lens. The camera was mounted on a non-tracking tripod.

f/3.5, 20 seconds, ISO 3200, FL 14mm UWA (cropped)

f/4, 30 seconds, ISO 6400, FL 8mm fisheye (cropped)
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In the fisheye photo the Summer Triangle stars of Vega, Deneb, and Altair are visible near the center. At the bottom the planets Jupiter and Saturn are visible.

Skyglow from Tucson is visible over the mountains. There was still a lot of moisture in the atmosphere from all the recent Monsoon storms. That increased the skyglow brightness over the mountain to the south of the Park.

We finally left the Park at 0130 MST! It was a wonderful night under the stars. I had fun teaching night sky astrophotography to this professional photographer. He was very excited about what he was seeing and photographing. We both had a blast under a beautiful and dark night sky. And we have become great friends.

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