I get the daily NYT news alert featuring “California Today” – features and stories that matter to Californians. This past Friday’s “California Today” featured Borrego Springs, a Dark Sky community that draws stargazers thanks to the low light pollution levels. It’s also known for it’s quirky metal sculptures, the work of Ricardo Breceda, scattered around town. Since it’s a couple hour drive from where we are, I decided last minute that we would take a day trip out there this weekend.
Ideally, we should have left first thing in the morning so that we could spend most of the day there. However, we had to get our regular exercise in – one hour with our personal trainer, and another 45-minute run for me, and an hour of BJJ for Joe. This meant, we didn’t get to leave until 2PM.
The drive ended up being 2.5 hours given the usual traffic on the 5. By the time we got to town, it was 4:30PM. We had about an hour and a half of daylight left to check out the sculptures.
First stop was the Mammoth. This was the only spot where we got sunlight.
Next up were the dinosaurs. The sun had already dipped behind the mountains.
We hit the Scorpion and the Grasshopper next.
For the star of the show – The Serpent.
Unfortunately, there were a whole bunch more sculptures we had to bypass as we were short on time.
Since we didn’t have to wait long for night fall, we stuck around for some stargazing. We had never seen so many stars in our lives. When we lived in NYC, the only celestial object we could see was the moon. Tucson opened up our eyes to starry nights, and I routinely got the chance to trace out the big dipper and Orion’s Belt, but we never could make out the Milky Way.
Borrego Springs is on a whole other level. The sky is FULL of stars, and we got to see the Milky Way for the first time in our lives!
Of course I had to attempt shooting the stars.
Here’s a screen grab of the NYT photo of the Milky Way in Borrega Springs…
Here’s my shot of the Milky Way…
EPIC FAIL! Talk about ‘photo does not do justice’.
I could not for the life of me figure out how to sharpen the image, other than shortening the shutter speed, but then I wouldn’t get enough light. Increasing the ISO only made the image too grainy. The specs for this epically bad photo was ISO 6400, 10mm, shutter speed of 30 secs. Using the ‘500 rule’ (500/focal length, which in this case is 10mm), my shutter speed should have been set @ 50 secs, but my camera ‘does not go there’. Later I realized that my settings should have been ISO 3200, 24mm, shutter speed of 20 secs.
Oh well, next time…