Wheatbelt Dawn

Pre-dawn celestial signs of the Wheatbelt. Pleiades, crescent Moon and constellation of Orion.

Pre-dawn celestial signs of the Wheatbelt. Pleiades, crescent Moon and constellation of Orion.

Continuing on from my early morning astrophotography session out in the WA Wheatbelt in July this photograph is from just before dawn, the golden twilight colours showing and progressively hiding the stars. The Pleiades, constellation of Orion and other stars are still clearly visible along with the delicate crescent Moon low on the horizon. Low mist is in the distant valley with a hint of the green wheatfield visible. What a magical time of day.

This astrophotograph was taken with my Fuji X-E2, my current favourite camera. Colours are exactly as shot in-camera with no increased saturation or altered levels. The Fuji X-E2 does a great job of rendering colours and controlling noise. This is a HDR composite of three exposures in order to retain the Moon which would have otherwise been overexposed. You can see the crescent is white, with “Earth Shine” illuminating the remainder of the Moon.

 

An oldie but a goodie – the Moon

The Moon, photographed using a Fuji X-E2 camera on a William Optics Megrez 90 telescope.

The Moon, photographed using a Fuji X-E2 camera on a William Optics Megrez 90 telescope.

Well, it may “just” be The Moon but it still satisfies an itchy camera trigger finger! This was a casual snap using my Fuji X-E2 on the Moon. To be honest it’s the first time I have used the Fuji for the Moon, and it performed very well as expected. Great low noise levels and fun using the remote connect and transfer app to the iPad, saving me craning my neck in to position to check focus. The v4 firmware update from Fuji for the X-E2 introduced Electronic Shutter, which makes for silent and vibrationless shooting which was fantastic in this case by removing the vibration otherwise introduce by the shutter. The lighter weight camera body compared to my 6D makes holding it firm on the telescope easier, as there’s less weight to pull on the focuser draw tube and associated fittings.

The moon was not quite full in this photograph, about 12 hours off being full, so you can see a little bit of shadow detail on the left.

Pre-Dawn Nightscape Bliss

I traveled to one of my favorite locations in the WA Wheat belt for a night of astrophotography on Saturday 2nd July. Unfortunately it wasn’t long after arriving that the rain started! (even I can’t always predict the weather with 100% accuracy.). After much analysis of the weather predictions I set my alarm for 4am and went to bed. 4am came and wow was it a clear sky! A quick excursion ensued, exploring the surrounding area and coming across some fantastic nightscape scenes.

My first surprise was when I turned out the gate from the paddock on to the road, walked a few steps, looked up, and wow, there was Orion! Hello Orion! It’s always so surprising how quickly Orion comes back to our morning sky.

Constellation of Orion rising in pre-dawn Zodiacal Glow down country road.

Constellation of Orion rising in pre-dawn Zodiacal Glow down country road.

Turning to the south another fantastic sight greeted me. This time the Magellanic Clouds perfectly positioned over a wonderfully sculpted eucalyptus tree.

Magellanic Clouds in Wheatbelt WA

Magellanic Clouds in Wheatbelt WA

To cap it all off, here is a beautiful panorama of the Moon rising low over mist and cloud with the star cluster Pleiades on the left, the constellation of Orion on the right, and beautiful zodiacal glow extending up from the horizon. Oh, also throw in just a hint of beautiful pre-dawn colour on the horizon.

Pre-dawn bliss. Pleaides, crescent moon rising, Zodiacal Glow, and the constellation of Orion!

Pre-dawn bliss. Pleaides, crescent moon rising, Zodiacal Glow, and the constellation of Orion!

Bicentenial Tree and Karri Forest under stars

 

Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in Pemberton (Western Australia) under the stars of the Southern Cross and Milky Way, including Eta Carina.

Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in Pemberton (Western Australia) under the stars of the Southern Cross and Milky Way, including Eta Carina.

A favorite holiday spot of mine for the last 15 years has been Pemberton in the south-west of Western Australia. Back in the early 2000’s it was all about fungus, orchid and landscape photography which I sold at my local Kalamunda Markets, and in more recent years it has remained of interest to me for the landscape photography but also a respite from Astrophotography, enforced by the typically cloudy and rainy weather of the area.

On this occasion there was a string of clear nights! I managed to ignore the first, staying inside in the warmth with family, but the second night got me, and out I went driving around the Pemberton countryside in the middle of the night, as you do! (ps. The third I deemed was too moonlit and stayed with the fire inside!)

This photograph is a quick postcard from the trip, taken straight from the camera, though almost no processing on my iPad and posted online for your enjoyment. It is of the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in the Warren National Park. The tree was never used as a fire lookout but is made to give visitors the opportunity to climb such a tree (you can see the pegs used for climbing in this photograph). The stars above the tree include the Southern Cross (immediately right of the tree) and Eta Carina nebula, all part of our Milky Way galaxy spanning across the night sky. The tree is lit naturally by moonlight shining through the Karri forest.

I will share more astrophotography from the area soon.

Reminder that my next workshop is coming up – 28th & 29th May.