While I was dinking around with my binoculars during the eclipse last night, I decided to try to hunt for an application which would allow me to have better control over the exposures etc. on my iPhone. I found the program Manual, which gives SLR like controls (more on that some other time) but I also found out about NightCap Pro, a program that can be used to take star trail photos and long exposures. For a mere $1.99, I could not resist. I downloaded it, read over the manual, and wandered out into my backyard. I couldn’t immediately find my iPhone tripod, so I just rested it on a flower pot aimed roughly up the hill, and snapped this photo with a roughly 30 second exposure.
I was actually pretty impressed. You can see clearly a few stars, as well as the high clouds. The scattered light from my porch and the full moon was enough to clearly show the color of the foiliage as well as my humming bird feeder. I mulled for a moment about what constellation I was looking at, but then realized the bright star was Vega, and the stars above and to the left of it were Lyra. I cropped it down to eliminate the terrestrial landmarks. You can see that the star images are pretty soft and out of focus, I didn’t figure out how to lock the focus at infinity, I’ll try in the future.
If you haven’t heard of astrometry.net, it is a cool website which allows you to upload star field pictures, and it will figure out where the stars were aiming, and then label the stars and constellations. When I handed it the cropped version, it confirmed my suspicion that it was Lyra, but also showed the stars in Cygnus that are above it.
Great fun! The program can also take pictures of star trails and satellites. I’ll have to give that a try sometime soon. Stay tuned.