A couple of weeks ago I took off after work one Monday afternoon, drove two hours inland to dark skies and did a bunch of astrophotography. I camped the night and drove two hours back to work in the morning. It was an amazing night, but the highlight was definitely this absolutely amazing view of the moon setting on a perfectly flat western horizon!
I do not recall such an amazing view of the moon. The bright crescent moon descended towards the completely unobstructed flat western horizon. As it neared the horizon the brightness started to fade as bands of thin cloud passed in front. Very near the horizon the moon (by this stage appearing more like a totally eclipsed blood red moon) appeared to hang over the western horizon, oh so very slowly lowering as it dipped to the horizon. The view I was seeing of the Moon was clearly refracted over the horizon – distorted and squashed by the effects of refraction. It was amazing just how long the process took – how much the projection of the moon refracted through our atmosphere slowed and how long it hung there. In the end all that was left was the tip of the crescent, appearing almost as though a devils horn sticking up from the horizon.
Tonight was the Total Lunar Eclipse of 8th October 2014. I have just returned from a several week overseas trip and my interest in astrophotography as waned during this time, and over the southern hemisphere winter. However I still made it out to snap a few pics of tonight’s eclipse, from a popular local spot overlooking the city of Perth, Western Australia.
The late twilight colours made for quite a nice setting of the lunar eclipse, as well as the brightness of the foreground light pollution matching the moon quite well.
I have a new lens! The Canon pancake 40mm f/2.8. I purchased the lens for everything except atsrophotography – but of course you know I will try it for astrophotography anyway! As reviews like this one show, the lens is amazingly sharp for general use, even compared to many canon L lenses. However, as I was to find out, the old rule applies – good for landscape doesn’t necessarily mean good for astrophotography! (so often the case). For astrophotography this lens exhibits severe distortion in the corners at f/2.8 and only becomes pinpoint to the edge at f/5.6. This did really surprise me as I’ve been very much enjoying using the lens for every-day photography and landscape photography, with those photographs coming out looking spectacularly sharp. I must get to the bottom of understanding that difference one day.
This photograph is a stack of 3 x 120 second exposures using my Canon 6D at 3200ISO from my suburban backyard (light polluted).
At an introduction to nightscape astrophotography workshop I ran for Shoot Photography Workshops this weekend just gone, I was reminded of this photograph which I haven’t published on my website yet. This photograph, “Ocean of Stars” featured in an exhibition at the Perth Town Hall back in December, and was one of several prints to sell during the exhibition. Since then it has slipped to the back of the pile of photo’s, as have many other images from my trips to Kalbarri National Park.
The participants of the workshop particularly liked this image.
This astrophotograph of the Milky Way over the Indian Ocean is particularly large, being over 16,000 pixels wide due to the fact it is comprised of many frames stitched together making the single panoramic image. This makes it a great candidate for large format printing.
The vast Indian Ocean disappears in to the distance beyond the cliffs of Kalbarri National Park, as the brilliant Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds with their millions of stars shine overhead. Island Rock is to the bottom left, and the coastal path meanders along the cliff top to the right.
A backyard workshop under the night sky with the Milky Way overhead. Two pine trees stand tall as silhouettes against the bright night sky. Near the top of frame is the bright yellow/orange star Antares, a well known and easily recognised star in the constellation of Scorpius (the scorpion), which lies in the direction of the centre of our Milky Way, the large bulge of stars seen in this image.
The silhouetted trees in this nightscape emphasise the lines of the setting Milky Way which includes in this field the Southern Cross and Pointers. Behind the trees, to the west is the light of a crescent moon (not visible for the trees) and light from the City of Perth. Here the light creates the focal point to which the stars are setting and the clouds are radiating from. Only an hour earlier it finished raining after a wet and cold winter day, leaving the trees and ground around me soaking wet with water.
Here is a second photograph from last night, same location as the previous Farming Stars. I really enjoyed this brief 30 minutes photo session, which ended up quite productive. Sometimes you can spend a whole weekend taking astrophoto’s and not end up with much pleasing from it, where as other times you spent 30 minutes out and come home with a swag of photographs.
This photograph features the Milky Way high in the eastern sky and the sharp contrast of silhouetted dead tree in the foreground. The bright and colourful Milky Way is matched on the landscape with soft greens of the green paddock. Fence lines extend across the paddock.
The bright star Antares (yellow/orange in colour) is at the top of the frame and is part of the tail of Scorpio which is one of the constellations visible in this photograph.
This is a simple single exposure photograph of the Milky Way not far from where I live in the hills of Western Australia, to the east of Perth. I like the lighting on the foreground grass paddock and colourful sky overhead in this photograph. The Milky Way is very high in the eastern sky, spreading overhead towards the west. Some clouds are drifting through the field of view.
This photograph from Kings Park in Perth, Western Australia may not be as “astro” as much of my astrophotography but it does contain stars under the night sky (believe it or not). Light pollution has outshone most of the stars and the Milky Way, but the Tree, shown in this fisheye lens view, appears to be embracing the few stars showing in the night sky. View bigger .
The city lights of Perth are extremely bight and completely white out the sky in only a 10 second F/2.8 6400ISO exposure. This image is a 5 exposure HDR sequence with the longest exposure being 10 seconds F/4.5 3200ISO. The longer exposures in the sequence reveal the few stars while the shorter exposures reclaim colour in the city and foreground. The stars visible here are those towards the central bulge of the Milky Way, such as Antares and other bright stars of Scorpius and surrounding constellations.