October 30, 2011
Another beautiful sunset and moonset. There’s something about a crescent moon hanging in the
twilight sky that makes it one of the most interesting phases. I had an idea for a multiple exposure photo
of the moon setting, and decided tonight would be the night to get it. I set one camera on a tripod to
shoot a picture every 5 minutes for 2 hours. I started at 6 p.m., when there was still faint light from
the sunset. I eventually used every other frame, so the picture I posted is the moon every 10 minute as
After setting the camera for the moon shots, I went to my car for dinner. There was still light on
the horizon, and it was reflecting off the roof of the car. As an experiment, I took a few photos and was
surprised at how interesting they looked. Even though the car is bright red, it reflected the deep blues
of the twilight.
I saw my shadow from the moon as it got darker – a good sign for me since I’m trying to use the
moon to light up the night scenes. I thought it was a pretty successful night of shooting, although I need
to get better shots of the petrified wood and the sky … maybe tonight, when there will be slightly more
light from the moon to light up the landscape.
After the moon set, I moved to a viewpoint called the Teepees for several hills that have eroded
to look like their namesake. I brought out the star-tracking device that I was partially successful with
at the Grand Canyon. This time I brought the instructions and soon had the Astro-Trac working. And it
worked well! There were a few false starts and out-of-focus frames. I started shooting wide-angle shots of
the Milky Way over the Teepees and in other directions. Then on to the objects I tried before – the
Andromeda Galaxy and the Pleiades. By this time it was 10 p.m., and Orion was rising in the east. I shot a
few of the “belt” area and managed to get the Orion Nebula in the frame, a very colorful wisp of gas left
over from an exploding star. I was amazed. I could see some pinks and reds, and this was just with a 200mm
lens on the camera. There is a faint straight line in the picture I posted, just to the left of the bright
nebula. It showed up in several pictures going down and to the left over a period of more than 17 minutes.
It wasn’t a plane, which would go much faster. It probably was a satellite; I’ll have to ask my astronomy
friends. After 2 hours, I packed up and drove back to the apartment.
Earlier on Saturday, I had lunch at the Petrified Forest Diner, next to the visitor center here.
It must be from the 1940s or 50s, very neat and tidy with dazzling fabric on the seats and carpet. Lots of
photos of the diner and the park’s history on the wall, and tons of Route 66 memorabilia; the historic
highway goes straight through Petrified Forest. I had the Boca Burger (vegetable patty) and real onion
rings. I plan to return for breakfast one day.