11/25/06. About 10 PM-I thought this was a plane and took the pics just for the heck of it. I know it isn't a star because it was moving, though slowly about the speed of a commercial airliner but it never seemed to get any closer. Knowing where I was in relation to the flight paths into Lambert St Louis International I would estimate this was probably around ten miles away.
It could be closer if it was smaller than an airliner or much further away if much larger. When I first saw it I thought it was heading towards Lambert before making a big turn to head West and come in on that approach vector. However it never seemed to make the turn but never got any closer.
Camera is a KonicaMinolta 7D with ISO set at 1600. Lens is an old Minolta 80-200 f2.8 APO, set at 200mm (300mm effective) This lens is super sharp at all aperture settings, in fact is maybe sharper than my fixed focal length 90mmF2.8 macro lens, which is extremely sharp. Camera was set on manual with the shutter speed at 1/10 second and aperture f2.8. Antishake was on and camera braced against side of car with engine turned off. The camera was set in motor drive mode which shoots something around 5 frames per second.
These were the first two pics I shot of the object. When I took these I'd reset the camera to aperture priority which meant the camera set the shutter speed of somewhere over 1 second. I did have the camera braced against the door of the car but that kind of shutter speed is way too slow to handhold; the engine was still running which didn't help either. The second pic is what happened when I took the camera down while it was still taking the picture.
I probably should have gotten out of the car and put the camera on a tripod because as it turned out I had plenty of time and two very sturdy tripods with me. Oh well, there's always the next time. I think I will also decrease the ISO rating when using a tripod because I know at ISO 200 & 400 the camera and lens are capable of pictures that can be blown up to about 30x40, as long as it is on a good solid tripod.
As I said I thought it was a plane but I can't figure out what lights I was seeing and I never did see any strobes flashing; which I should have seen even at the distance I estimated. It is possible it is a planet though it was very close to the horizon and there were some low-level clouds and haze.
I was on Missouri Bottom Road, just east of Charbonnier Rd in Bridgeton, MO north of I-170 and east of the Missouri River in what is known as the Missouri Bottoms. I'll leave it up to you about posting it. For me it is just not clear enough to make any decision, but I've seen people posting a lot worse pictures.
When I first saw it I would have sworn it was a plane and took the pictures just to see how well my low-light exposure idea would work. Since it seemed to move a fair amount and then just stop is what makes me wonder what it is. The relative motion from where it was when I first saw it to when I took the pictures is much more than it would have been if it was a planet.
Thanks to M. C. for his report and photographs.
Source & References:
Photographs & Report © M. C.
Photographs & Report © M. C.
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