July 17, 2018 Last weekend the conditions were good for photographing the heavens. Mainly good weather without any clouds, and a new moon. I decided to find a place I had never been to that is far away from big city lights. To do this, I used a light pollution map at Darksitefinder along with Google Maps. I discovered a place on the east coast of Kyushu, in Oita prefecture that looked promising. There, on a peninsula that stuck out into the Bungo Channel which leads to the Pacific Ocean, I found Kamatozaki Tenbodai. Tenbodai means observation tower in English. I decided to go there based on the recommendations and photos on Google Maps.
It is about two and a half hours by car from Dazaifu, mostly on the Oita Expressway. From the parking area, I climbed up a lot of steps. After 600 meters and a lot of sweating, I arrived at the tower at around 9:30 at night. On the third level, part of the observation deck juts out from under the roof. It was a perfect place to set up the tripod and camera. That night the stars were amazing, and I had them all to myself, except for a pair of racoon dogs (tanuki) walking around at the base of the tower and a few bats. The camera that night took about 700 photos, which I used to make the time lapse below. After arriving home, I put up the photos on the TV and found a meteor in one of the frames. The light pollution on the right side of the video is from the small town, (population-wise) of Saiki, 12 miles to the southwest.
Saiki City photo above. The bright yellow lights are from a cement factory.
A meteor streaking down and Mars in top left corner.
Click photos below for enlarged view.
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