A Small Piece of our Nearby Universe

NGC 2070 and surrounds of the Large Magellanic Cloud

NGC 2070 and surrounds of the Large Magellanic Cloud

A more narrow field image than I ordinarily post to my Astro Photography Australia site, this is a small piece of our beautiful southern skies. Looking at our neighbouring galaxy this is the Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070), an absolutely massive nebula complex in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy.

You can see prints and products featuring the Large Magellanic Cloud here

The beautiful pink nebulosity stands out from the deep space star field surrounding. Some of those stars are in our Milky Way galaxy, while others are in the more distant Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. You are seeing the mix of two different galaxies here.

The below in the photograph “Green Skies” I have indicated where the Tarantula Nebula is, using a photograph which provides some foreground to help with scale:

Large Magellanic Cloud with Tarantula Nebula

Large Magellanic Cloud with Tarantula Nebula

The wide field “Green Skies” photograph above was taken using a 24mm lens, as compared to the narrower field view of the Tarantula Nebula taken at an effective focal length of 500mm.

Milky Way

Milky Way (cropped)It has been a while since I had the opportunity to process some wide-field colour astrophotography images. Having a three week old newborn will do that to you! This is an accidental crop from a much larger nightscape image which just made me go “wow” when I struck upon it as I was processing the whole image. I was struggling to get the whole image balanced nicely when I realised there was another opportunity hidden within.

This is only a single frame and early in the evening when temperatures hadn’t fully cooled, so you can see some noise in the image, however it is not dominant. I’ve chosen to keep the noise and not risk losing any of the sharpness in the stars, millions of which dominate the field (especially at the full 4000 pixel wide resolution of this file). The cloud on the right blurs as it moves through the frame during the one minute exposure. Just think – the cloud is maybe a few kilometers above the ground, the stars just behind the cloud are perhaps 9.4605284 × 10^15 kilometres (they vary in distance of course but you get the idea).


Intergalactic Clouds

Dreamy Rock Pools

Dreamy Rock Pools

This photograph has a couple of different types of “clouds” and while astronomers typically dislike clouds here they work to create a dreamy nightscape.

The Magellanic Clouds, a set of companion galaxies to our Milky Way are visible in the night sky. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) on the right and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) slightly left and lower than the LMC. Across the night sky span thin layers of cirrus cloud, creating the dreamy look. The moon (not visible in frame) gives the sky a blue colour.

Twilight Reflections at Karalee – Orion, Moon, Jupiter

Twilight Reflections - Constellation of Orion with Moon and Jupiter.

Twilight Reflections – Constellation of Orion with Moon and Jupiter.

I find that it can be tricky getting reflections of stars/night sky in water, and making a nice photograph of it. Nightscape Astrophotography ordinarily requires a very wide field of view and when you need to divide that field of view between the sky and ground enough to fit in the reflections the task gets all the more tricky, and then there is the question of appealing composition. If you can overcome the framing to make it look nice then you need still conditions for the stars to reflect strong enough that they are sufficiently detected in the image.

Here I am at a shallow rock pool on Karalee Rocks which makes the situation easier by having the water so close and surrounding landscape so low. Orion the constellation as well as its star Betelgeuse, the nearby star Procyon, the Moon and Jupiter are all reflecting nicely. Sunset colours of pink hue’s paint the sky nicely.

Ironically it’s not the reflections which I like the most about this photograph, it’s the colour of the sky, the wispy cloud across the sky, and the combination of celestial objects which I find most appealing. I was tempted to crop the water off!

Below is a photograph illustrating the celestial objects referred to in the photograph:

Twilight Reflections - Constellation of Orion with Moon and Jupiter. (labelled)

Twilight Reflections – Constellation of Orion with Moon and Jupiter. (labelled)


Karalee Summit Milky Way

Karalee Summit Milky Way

Possibly one of the flattest summits you might find, the top of Karalee Rocks appears more like a plateau when you finally reach it! The summit is a good 20 minute walk from the camp site and when you’ve been going to the summit via interesting photographic stops it easily becomes a 3 hour hike over uneven rocks.

Here the summit Cairn can be seen in the centre of the image with its tall pole pointing towards the Milky Way and stars which are overhead. Visible in the Milky Way is the central region of the Milky Way bulge including Sagittarius, Corona Australis, Serpens Cauda and Scutum constellations. Scorpius is partially visible at the top of frame.

The red dirt of the Goldfields region of outback Western Australia is visible in the foreground along with hardy plants of the rocky outcrops.

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