Katie and I have been camping, though it’s just been in the backyard during these Covid-19 days. She starts crying and circling near the backdoor around 8 every evening, so excited to sleep in her tent. Of course that means she goes to bed early.
So she gets me up between 3:30 and 4:30 every morning. We wander back into the house after she does her jobs, and then, usually, I go back out to the tent to finish sleeping.
But the past two nights I’ve spent about an hour taking pictures of the night, honing my night photography skills before I head back to sleep.
Last night was really, really cool.
I was taking a picture of the house with a band of clouds and a couple stars overhead. The camera, sitting on it’s tripod was going through the 25 seconds shoot and then the lengthy noise reduction process, and I was staring at the sky directly above me while I waited. And the most spectacular shooting star blazed across the sky. No, it didn’t cross into my picture, darn it, but I saw it and that made me smile.
The next shot I pointed the camera straight up, knowing there wouldn’t be another shooting star right there, but wondering what I’d capture. And while the camera was going through it’s process I was watching the cloud bank climb higher in the sky just above the house.
And that’s when I saw the oddest thing.
A line of small dots, lights about the same size and brightness as a star, were moving from south to north, right above the cloud bank, quite fast, but slow enough for me to blink a couple times, adjust my glasses, and process that I was seeing something strange. I had time to consider whipping the camera back from it’s upward image capturing, and to swear at myself for moving it away from the house in the first place, but not long enough to actually do anything but watch, fascinated, until they all moved off into the clouds.
There were probably at least 20 lights, a long straight line of them, then a break and then 5 or 6 more. It was 4:20 in the morning. I’d been shooting the sky since about 3:45. I wasn’t sleepy and I wasn’t hallucinating. I don’t know what they were, but I’m hoping someone else saw them too and has an explanation.
Meanwhile, I’ve figured some more stuff out about night photography and someday I hope I’ll be able to stare at the stars and whatever else is up there from a more exotic location than my backyard.
And then I’ll really be smiling. Guaranteed.
Edit: I found out what it was! Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink Satelite Train. You can put in your data and find out when it will be flying near you!