A Sardegna day to night to day timelapse (aka The Holy Grail of Timelapses)

Actually, I shot the footage of this timelapse more than 3 years ago. Though I kindof “lost” the images on my backup storage and forgot about it. A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the files…

I sent a few days at a farm in northern Sardegna, Italy during a late August full moon. The terrace of the main building offered this splendid veiw of the countryside and pigs enclosure (you may see a few pigs running around at the end of the video). The full moon cast a shadow all night long, while the stars pass around Polaris.

The timelapse was shot between 19:44 and 08:53, covering 13 hours with 777 single exposures.
Post processing in Lightroom and LRTimelapse

Comet 46/P Wirtanen with M45 (Pleiades)

This weekend is the perfect viewing opportunity for Comet 46/P Wirtanen:
First, the comet is closest to eart by less than 0.08 astronomical units (distance from earth to the sun), which is approximately 30 times the distance to moon!
Second, the comet passes very close to the open cluster M45 – the Pleiades.
And third, it is still an early moon phase. This means that from midnight on, the night will be really dark!

I was eagerly waiting for this view. Though current weather conditions in central Europe did not promise anything suitable for observations until 2-3 days ago. Saturday night showed increasing patches of open skies…
Finally, Saturday in the late afternoon, the sky cleared up. So all was a go for observing!

At -11°C conditions were cold but good for astro photography. Recent precipitation left some humidity in the air, reducing air transparency a bit. What caused some trouble was, a frost cover building up on all the equipment (photos will follow)…

Here are the results of a loooong night up in the mountains:

Comet 46/P Wirtanen travelling through space

The following timelapses show, how much angular distance the comet 46/P Wirtanen makes, when closest to earth. From my data I see approximately a stunning 1° during 4 hours!

Timelapse 1:
85mm photo lens with 1.5x crop sensor
93 exposures, each 60 seconds long (93 min total)

Timelapse 2:
200mm photo lens with full frame sensor
160 exposures, each 90 seconds long (240 min total)

Timelapse 3:
715mm/f7 APO with 1.5x crop sensor
71 exposures, 30 and 60 seconds over 80 min

2018-11-10 Milky way above the observatory – slider movie

I went to the observatory (see previous post) to capturing some deep sky photos. When the camera was capturing in the meantime I set up my slider. The slider was configured to travel an inclined track with 6m length. The plan was to show the milky way above the observatory, travelling away from the dome.
This is the 3 hour hyperlapse:

Camera slider – night shot with inclined setup

After finishing the slider, I was eager to test the whole thing. To test the capabilities, I went for an inclined setup with 3,5m length and 1m height difference. Well, the footage proofs a good overall performance. But unfortunately the motor is not strong enough to drive the slider cart all too well uphill. OK. The motor is without reduction gear and the motor may drive the slider cart at up to 1,2m/s… So for inclined setups, I have to add a reduction gear / worm gear drive or counter-weight system…

Sequence 1: 10s exposures, going up. Slider stalls due to overload

Sequence 2: 1s exposures at high ISO (it was too late in the night 😉 ), going down

poor quality photo of the setup

Camera slider – build complete :-)

After several hours of designing, 3d printing, drilling, soldering and assembling, my camera slider is ready to use! All components are neatly packed within cases, so that the only wires visible are the power supply from the LiPo battery pack and the shutter release cable to the camera. I have several extensions in mind, like a pan-tilt unit. But for the moment, I will test and use the setup as is. The next improvements will be more on the firmware, for more features: non-linear movement, slow start, slow finish, pre-defined profiles, … for more impressive movies.

 

Now, concluding the build, I have the following parts in the final setup:

  •  12 U-groove wheels, matching the carbon fiber tubes (3D printed plus ball bearings)
  • 4 wheel carriages, each holding 3 U-groove wheels (3D printed)
  • 1 case for the microcontroller and motor driver (3D printed)
  • 1 case for shutter release, power supply and connectors (3D printed)
  • 1 hand-controller case (3D printed)
  • 1 battery bracket (3D printed)
  • 2 end-assemblies (5 parts each, 3D printed)
  • 2 supports (3 parts each, 3D printed)
  • 1 NEMA17 stepper motor
  • 1 A4988 stepper motor driver
  • 1 Arduino Nano (Atmel 328 microcontroller)
  • 1 4×20 LCD
  • 1 Joystick module
  • 1 DC-DC converter
  • 2 micro switches with long lever as end switches
  • GT2 10mm timing belt with wire reinforcement
  • 1 GT2 10mm 20 teeth pulley wheel
  • 4 GT2 10mm idler wheels
  • A whole bunch of M3 to M6 screws and nuts
  • 40x3mm flat aluminium
  • 30x50x3mm L-shaped aluminium
  • carbon fiber tubes

The project was really a fun to make. Even more, the resulting slider provides flexibility and transportability! I may configure the slider in any length, depending on the available tubes. The tubes I use, are 37cm in length and have aluminium screw-in adapters to fit one to the other. I have a bag, which I used as personal item in air travel. The bag holds the complete setup for up to 5 meters (exkluding tripods). The bag weighs in at approximately 5kg – so it is a light weight setup for the length possible.