Alexandria, VA

Lightning over Tucson

KPNO Lightning shot

The stars of Cygnus rise above the stormy clouds over Tucson, AZ.
(Mouse over the image to id some of the stars.)
[Might only work in newer browsers.]
The original slide has 13 lightning strikes.

date: 11 July 2004
Exposure time: ~20 minutes
Aperture: f/2.8
Film: Kodak ELITE Chrome 100
Focal length: 28.0mm
Camera: Minolta X-700
Caption: Of all the lightning shots that I took over the nights, this one turned out best! Partly because I left it alone! I had to run over to the 2.1-m building for something or other so I left the camera setup by the 0.9-m. I was gone for about 10-15 minutes. In fact, as I headed over to the 2.1-m, I aimed my red flashlight onto the side of the building. At first, I was shocked with myself, but then I realized that no one was observing anyway! In fact, you can see the white dome lights shining out the sides of the slit at the top of the dome!

This image was selected as the Astronomy Picture of the Day for 18 August 2004.

  1. What are the streaks above the clouds? Are those meteors? No, during the long exposure, about 20 minutes, the earth has turned. Those are star trails. The 'bright' star (left of top center) is probably Gienah, ε (epsilon) Cygni, the star below epsilon (just above the clouds) is ζ (zeta).
  2. Picture details?? Minolta camera with 50mm lens at f/2.8 on a tripod. Kodak ELITE Chrome 100 (slide) film. About 20 minute exposure (used a locking shutter cable).
  3. What time of day? This was taken at night! While I did not write down the exact time, it was sometime between 9-10pm, possibly even later.

To see other pictures from my trip to Kitt Peak, please visit my trip journal on the Observatory pages.

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Last Updated:  Monday January 14, 2008 by Elizabeth Warner

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