Geminids under a Bortle one sky

Has been too long since I spent any significant time under the stars, so when I saw that the peak of the Geminids meteor shower coincided with a day off I was pretty excited. I did a bunch of scouting and planning in the days leading up, ultimately choosing to head north for the dark skies as the Geminids radiant was forecast at just 22 degrees above the horizon at my location. It was so good getting under some really seriously dark skies and an amazing experience to see this cosmic fireworks in display. I initially thought I might get some sleep, but nope, they meteors were firing almost all night and had me completely captured.

Milky Way at 150mm with my MSM

So I’ve finally been getting a bit of use out of Move Shoot Move 2-in-1 Star Tracker & Rotator for actual star tracking sessions of late. I’ve used the rotator function of this device extensively, a function that to my mind almost justifies the cost of this device on its own merit. The star tracker however wasn’t quite working for me. With Australia being in the Southern Hemisphere, I had no bright pole star to align too even if the star pointer laser was legal. I went with the polar scope option with my purchase, however simply could not positively identify Sigma Octantis, the tiny magnitude 5.5 pole star for the Southern Hemisphere, through the scope no matter how hard I tried. I retired myself to the idea that I was going to have to make do with blind alignment using apps on my phone for a “near enough” polar alignment for which only wide focal lengths could be used without trails. To date, I have been quite pleased with how wrong I’ve been about this.

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