Exmoor under dark skies

I have, for some time wanted to do some wide field imaging under the dark skies of Exmoor , with that in mind my partner Julie and I spent the bank holiday weekend at Zeacombe house caravan park, West Anstey – just 3 miles from the edge of Exmoor national park, just over an hours drive from where I live. 

Zeacombe House Caravan Park
Zeacombe House Caravan Park on the edge of the national park

We spent the first day relaxing after setting up camp, in the sun that moved through a beautiful clear blue sky – and I was looking forward to some imaging using my Canon EOS600D and the Ioptron tracking EQ mount, it’s only a small mount but is more than capable of handling my camera and any lens I care to put on it – unfortunately as the sun began to go down the clouds rolled in, and stayed in for the rest of the night, along with the rain.

Ioptron tracking EQ mount and Canon EOS600D
Ioptron tracking EQ mount and Canon EOS600D

The cloud and rain had cleared the following morning, leaving behind a thick mist that soon burned off as the Sun got higher, before breakfast we took a walk around the local area, lots of fields and not much else – you would definitely need a car if you lived around here, but it would be worth it just for the view across the landscape, stunning. I tried out my new 58mm Infra Red filter for the camera and the world looks very different when viewed through this wavelengh of light.

IR filter
The world through an IR filter

This time, as the Sun began to set the sky remained clear, even though I was only going to use 3 minute unguided exposures through an 18mm lens the mount still needed to be polar aligned, and I was getting impatient for Polaris, the Pole star to appear – it is not as many people believe, the brightest star in the sky, it’s not even among the twenty brightest stars in the northern hemisphere so I had to wait for it to get dark enough to find it. Once the mount was polar aligned I had to wait for night to fall ( I did get quite a few fellow campers showing an interest in what I was doing, this was mainly because I was staring up at a seemingly empty northern sky – but none wanted to stay up for the fun to begin ) , all the while watching for clouds to drift over, none did and I began imaging. First off I imaged the Cygnus region as the milky way runs right through it and I was hoping to catch a late Perseid meteor as the peak of the shower was clouded over, I did see a couple of meteors but none through the area I was imaging.

After taking about 20 exposures I moved to the Andromeda region, this time I only managed to get 10 exposures ( I briefly shone a torch onto the hedge and tree behind it during one exposure for effect ) before a wall of mist rose up obscuring all but the brightest stars and even those vanished as the fog got thicker, everything including myself got wet it was that dense, there was no chance of doing any more imaging so I quickly put everything away and went to bed about 1 ish with damp hair but happy to have done something. once more the following day was bright and clear I got up late just in time for a full english breakfast before we headed back home.

Andromeda region
Andromeda region, Cassiopia to the left

I hope to do more of this type of imaging when I go away and the Ioptron mount is ideal for it, I think I will need a better lens though.



3 thoughts on “Exmoor under dark skies”

  1. Good to see you getting an opportunity to do some wide field imaging, Will.
    M31 is clearly visible. It rises after midnight here at the moment, so I won’t be seeing it for a few more weeks.
    I’m interested in your IR filter. Which type of object will you be using this for?


    1. Hi Roger, thanks for the comment. The IR filter is 58mm and threads on to the front of my Canon EF-S lens’s, it’s really only used for daytime photography, I don’t thinks the results would be very good if used on deepsky targets plus it would not fit my filter wheel.

      Liked by 1 person

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