You shouldn’t be able to photograph stars from a plane. At least that is the conventional wisdom and the conventional wisdom, and in this case it almost always right. I have tried to photograph stars from a plane in flight numerous times but without success. But this flight was different.
We were flying east from Denver Colorado to Columbus Ohio. I was trying to photograph stars out the plane window but all the images were very blurry due to engine vibrations and turbulence. My shutter speeds were long, ranging from 1 to 4 seconds.
Then something interesting happened. The engine vibrations totally stopped and it felt like we were free floating. It was like the captain had shut down the engines and we were free floating. I don’t know what was really going on (maybe the captain had throttled back) but the absence of engine vibrations and noise was eerie.
In any case I got some reasonably sharp images during the time it felt like the plane was free floating. As an added bonus, I captured a meteor below the constellation Scorpius. Above the wing Saturn was shining above the constellation Sagittarius. the lights of St, Joseph and Kansas City were shining down below. The location was confirmed by GPS coordinates. (It is legal to use a GPS device on Southwest Airlines flights.) I was thrilled to get a nice, night time image from a plane in flight. This is my favorite image for July 21.
Exposure Data: Canon 5D Mark III. Canon 24-105mm lens at 24mm. Aperture f/4, Shutter 1.6 seconds, ISO 12,800.
Series: Favorite Photos by Date – all about this series