Ocean of Stars

Ocean of Stars - The Milky Way over the Indian Ocean from coastal cliffs.

Ocean of Stars – The Milky Way over the Indian Ocean from coastal cliffs.

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.

Workshop under the Milky Way

Workshop under the Milky Way

Workshop under the Milky Way

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.

Into The Light

Into The Light - The Southern Cross and Pointers set in to the brightly lit western horizon, behind a stand of tall silhouetted trees which were burnt in a recent bushfire.

Into The Light – The Southern Cross and Pointers set in to the brightly lit western horizon, behind a stand of tall silhouetted trees which were burnt in a recent bushfire.

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.

Milky Way Silhouettes

Milky Way Silhouettes

Milky Way Silhouettes

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.

Farming Stars

Farming Stars - The Milky Way

Farming Stars – The Milky Way

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.

Embracing the Stars at Kings Park

Embracing the StarsThis 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.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake - a secluded salt lake surrounded by pine trees and hills with the stars overhead (including the constellation of Orion and Jupiter).

Hidden Lake – a secluded salt lake surrounded by pine trees and hills with the stars overhead (including the constellation of Orion and Jupiter).

This astro photograph was captured on the island of Rottnest, off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. Jupiter is shining brightly above a salt lake, with the constellation of Orion to the left. A track leads down to the lake, weaving amongst the pine trees and along the edge of the lake.

Lighthouse Milky Way

Lighthouse, Salt Lake and Milky Way with the Large Magellanic Cloud (left).

Lighthouse, Salt Lake and Milky Way with the Large Magellanic Cloud (left).

Alone in the dark on an island, cycling around with my astrophotography gear, here I am looking out over a salt lake in front of me to a lighthouse in the distance. You can see a split in the beam of the lighthouse due to the particular refraction of the light coming from the lighthouse, and a big looming mass of cloud on the right encroaching from the north and threatening to put an end to my night.

The usual suspects of the Large Magellanic Cloud and our Milky Way are in the sky, along with the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, which is just setting in the west (to the right of he lighthouse).

This photograph was taken on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. The island has several inland salt lakes like the one shown and also has two lighthouses, this being the only operational one. Cycling is the main form of transport on the island with no cars accessible to the general public. Cycling at night is not common and certainly on this case I think I was the only crazy person out and about cycling around the island in the dead of night!

Occultation of Saturn by the Moon 14th May 2014

Occultation of Saturn by The Moon - 14th May 2014

Occultation of Saturn by The Moon – 14th May 2014

View larger size image by clicking here, to see Saturn better.

Last night was a very busy night! Arriving home late from work via some grocery shopping and then 3 hours of recording the occultation of Saturn by The Moon after hurriedly setting up my portable telescope to capture the event! It’s a shame that my observatory doesn’t have a good view of the ecliptic at most times of the year.

Most of my footage of the event was captured through a 8″ SCT (good old orange tube C8!) but the above is from later on once the pair had cleared trees, viewable from my observatory using the William Optics Megrez 90 ~600mm focal length. The image has been cropped. By halfway through the event cloud was obscuring the Moon so I was lucky to get this brief peak of the pair after egress. I quite like the shot, even if it doesn’t show Saturn in high resolution.

The difference in brightness between the Moon and Saturn was significant. The above photograph has been adjusted to compensate somewhat, and is a HDR stack of frames, to help make both the Moon and Saturn visible, while retaining a natural appearance.

Below is another photograph, taken from a single video of the event. With the dramatic brightness difference between the Moon and Saturn I as surprised to retrieve such a usable result from the single exposure settings:

Saturn Occulted by The Moon - 14th May 2014

Saturn Occulted by The Moon – 14th May 2014

View larger size of the above image by clicking here.

And finally to cap it off, here is the Full Moon complete with Saturn below as per the above photograph (which was one frame of a mosaic making up the full moon disk below):

Full Moon with Saturn - 14th May 2014. Just prior to the Moon occulting Saturn.

Full Moon with Saturn – 14th May 2014. Just prior to the Moon occulting Saturn.

View a larger size image of the Full Moon with Saturn here.

The Pines

The Pines - A stand of pine trees together with the Large Magellanic Cloud  and constellation of Orion setting.

The Pines – A stand of pine trees together with the Large Magellanic Cloud and constellation of Orion setting.

I recently enjoyed a few days on Rottnest Island. Days were filled with landscape and nature photography, and exploring the plentiful bays and salt lakes, while one night was dedicated to astrophotography. The conditions were less than ideal, and I was alone (something I prefer not to be) so I can’t say I got the best out of the night,but I did get something.

It’s an interesting experience cycling around Rottnest Island in the dead of night when everyone else wouldn’t even consider being out and about. In fact it’s an interesting concept cycling to do astrophotography just for starters! How would you carry your tripods, camera gear and astrophotography mount on a bicycle?! I managed but I have to say walking or driving makes the job easier (cars are not an option on Rottnest Island). Anyhow, it was just me and 1,000,000 quokka friends out there! The pesky creatures wouldn’t leave me alone for a second, scratching at my tripod and my camera bag.

This shot is one of about 5 astrophoto’s which I will end up publishing from the night. The others will take some time to get out as priorities do battle for my evening time. This photograph is of a nice stand of pine trees in a bit of a valley. The glow beyond the pine trees is a lighthouse. To the top left is the Large Magellanic Cloud and setting on the right is the constellation of Orion with the pink colour of the Orion Nebula quite obvious. The hillside surrounding the pines is covered in tufty grasses.