Friday night was the launch of the LADEE satellite to the Moon. It was momentous because it was the first launch from Wallops Viriginia of a mission beyond Earth orbit and, I think, only the second launch of a payload bearing Ares rocket from Wallops. Almost as important as those, is the fact that Wallops happens to be only a 20 minute drive from my in-laws and less than 3 hours from my house. You can actually see the rocket heading up from my house! Downside, the trees near my house block most of the view, so all I could see was the rocket motor twinkling between branches a few times and then for about 45 seconds between two trees was an unobstructed view. Sadly I had my 12/2 mounted instead of something like my 60/2.8. I got the picture on a 25s exposure, but it isn’t anything to write home about at all. Still very cool and there is a field about 200yds away that probably would provide a much better view. I really need to go see a launch there though. I was born post-Apollo, but I am still a space nut.
I did take the opportunity to snap a few celestial pictures though. The 12/2 is really great for it with the snap focusing ring making it pretty easy to make sure that it is set to infinity. I still have some sky glow where I live (only 20 miles from Baltimore), but the skies are still pretty clear so long as you aren’t looking right by the horizon. I am sandwhiched pretty much inbetween Baltimore and Frederick with Washington DC to the south, so lots of skyglow, but I have probably the clearest skies around without going west another 30+ miles or heading north (but too far and you start running in to York and Harisburg sky glow).
Olympus 12mm f/2: f/2.8, 25s, ISO200
An ISO800 picture probably would have pulled significantly more stars, but it also would have enhanced the skyglow significantly around here. For where I live, unless you want to shoot straight up, 25s at ISO200 (and f/2.8) is about the best you can do to balance skyglow and star luminance.