A Californian astrophotographer recently captured images of Elon Musk’s Roadster during its voyage around the sun. In order to procure these images, he used an impressive arsenal of equipment.
We’ve been keeping you updated on the fact that there is currently a car in space, a few thousand miles above our heads. Although we can follow Elon Musk’s Tesla live, thanks to cameras on board the vehicle, observing Starman from Earth is a huge challenge. However, Rogelio Bernal Andreoil had the necessary experience and equipment to succeed. His first task was to determine exactly where the Tesla was in space. Fortunately, NASA had released its coordinates. On the 9th February, Starman could be found in the Hydra constellation (within the field of vision), at around 20 degrees above the horizon.
“The ephemeris from the JPL also indicated that the Roadster’s brightness would be at magnitude 17.5, and I knew that’s perfectly achievable”, said the photographer. He thus took his equipment and headed for the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, a controlled access zone for which he has a night usage permit. This area is near the San Francisco Bay, where the sky is even brighter, at least for astrophotography. With the Roaster at magnitude 17.5, the photographer believed that the task was achievable. Once his precious equipment -for which you can find all the details on his blog -was in place, the countdown was on. The Roadster would only be visible for a short period, threatened by the rising of the moon.
He thus captured this photo:
The green area shown here corresponds to the area that should be occupied by the Tesla. As you can see, we see nothing! But the photographer was not discouraged in the slightest. He thought that once he got back home, he would be able to fully develop the images. The Tesla Roadster and its driver had to be inside this green rectangle. But he found nothing! “So I decided to try again”, he said. However, the following night was cloudy. At around 4am, disappointed and discouraged, he packed his bags and headed for home.
However, Andreoil is no rookie; many of his photos have been published in astronomy magazines Sky and Telescope, the National Geographic and some have even used by NASA. So why didn’t he find the Tesla? It clicked with him the next day. In order to simplify things, in mapping the Roadster’s coordinates, he hadn’t entered his own coordinates. He rapidly recalculated and got himself back in place the following night. And as you can see in the video below, the Roadster was well and truly there: