When I left the house last night, it was mostly clear. I stopped and got a coffee, and by the time I made it to my destination— a gravel road a couple miles north of the Rapid City turn-off—the half-moon was still bright, but a thin haze of cloud had started to move in.
It was cold out—about -15°C, with just enough breeze to make it worse—so I was in a bit of a hurry. I got my camera set up, pointed north by northwest, established that the haze to the north was encroaching cloud and not aurora borealis, then retired to the warmth of the car to read my new library book, French Exit by Patrick deWitt.
I let the camera snap away, taking 5-second shots. At one point I thought the battery might have died, and so I got out to go retrieve it. As I closed the car door behind me, though, I heard the shutter click, so I knew it was still working. I returned to the car.
A couple trucks went by, and their headlights are the source of the lens flare and the pretty rainbow arc at the right of the photo. I have a lens hood but didn’t bother to put it on, assuming that the road would be deserted. Whoops.
After about forty minutes I’d finished my coffee and was starting to cool off. I noticed that the sky had clouded over almost completely. I couldn’t see stars anymore, and, reasoning that neither could my camera, I packed up and headed home.
Nerdy details: Startrails processed using GIMP. ~450 photos, each 5 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 3200. After processing, I cloned the layer twice, and set the middle layer to “Grain Merge”, the top one to “Darken Only” (I think).