Moon and Mars April 2014

The Moon and Mars - 14th April 2014

The Moon and Mars – 14th April 2014

Mars reached opposition on the 9th Aril 2014 and on April 14th (the day this photograph was captured) Mars was at it’s closest point to Earth for 2014. This coincided with Mars appearing (from our perspective) to be close to the Moon, 3 degrees in fact, which is close enough to nicely frame the two together in a camera. Mars has a dusty red hue to the naked eye and through a telescope. Compared to the brilliant white of the bright almost full moon this difference becomes more obvious. For more information about the Mars opposition this year check out Ian Musgrave’s blog.

All-Sky Night-Sky, Earth Hour

Earth Hour Comparison - Night Sky 28th and 29th March 2014. Images are un-processed with respect to saturation and other effects, and are of same exposure details.

Earth Hour Comparison – Night Sky 28th and 29th March 2014. Images are un-processed with respect to saturation and other effects, and are of same exposure details.

Does “Earth Hour” make a difference from a night sky darkness point of view? I have always been skeptical, and do remain somewhat skeptical, but it was interesting to experience two consecutive nights this weekend of which one included “Earth Hour” (29th March 2014). Both images were taken from the same location (give or take 10 metres) 200km south-east of Perth, Western Australia.

The left image shows the all-sky view from 28th March, and the one on he right from the 29th March. The 28th March had some cloud cover, as evident around the periphery of the image. The 29th March was a 2 hour clearing between cloud banks. The cloud on the 28th March likely emphasised the light pollution situation, while the recent rain and weather system may have contributed to the increased green Air Glow on the 29th. From this location is is normal to see significant light pollution from Perth and in recent years from other nearby towns such as Narrogin. A such while the light pollution may be emphasised somewhat by the cloud on the 28th, I am amazed to see such a lack of light pollution in the image from the 29th.

One contributing factor, in addition to Earth Hour, maybe localised cloud on the 29th. It is possible that at the time of the photograph localised cloud was covering and enclosing light pollution from Perth and nearby towns, hence “trapping” the light pollution and limiting it’s visibility from my location. It’s not possible for me to know how much this influenced the situation, but either way the difference in light pollution, the almost absolute lack of it on the 29th, is quite a stark contrast and blatantly obvious.

Perth Observatory Star Viewing Night

Celestron 14 inch Telescope at Perth Observatory Star Viewing Night

Celestron 14 inch Telescope at Perth Observatory Star Viewing Night

Being a volunteer Star Viewing Night (SVN) host at Perth Observatory is great fun and rewarding. The public love coming along to see the night sky, and kids become enthused about science and astronomy.

I’ve always wanted to get some nice astro photographs of the Perth Observatory Star Viewing Nights, partly as a historic record and partly for use by the Perth Observatory as promotional material. As a host I usually don’t have time to take photographs, and so such a task required a dedicated trip to the Perth Observatory, on Saturday the 1st March 2014.

Below are some photographs of the Star Viewing Night activities at the Perth Observatory.

All photographs are available for purchase as prints or digital files for copyright use and personal printing.

Southern Cross and Pointers with Eta Carina

The Southern Cross and Pointers with Eta Carina Nebula seen through trees at the edge of a peaceful lake in the calm of night.

The Southern Cross and Pointers with Eta Carina Nebula seen through trees at the edge of a peaceful lake in the calm of night.

Here is another from the 1st January which I have enjoyed processing. I love the colours from this particular night,and the compositions I ended up with. As an artist there is a lot to be said for being relaxed and on holiday to do your art – the results are almost always better. The Christmas break was excellent.

Prints of this and all other photographs are available upon request. Options involve rolled cost effective prints from $19.95 up to mounted glossy acrylic or canvas. Click here to view photographic print options.

A new year, and new photo’s…

Southern Cross Lakeshore

Southern Cross Lake-shore

New Years Eve this year my wife and I enjoyed a picnic at our favorite nearby lake. I cycle there for exercise, we walk around it for photography of birds and bugs, and enjoy picnics there now and then. The NYE visit reminded me that I must go back to take some more astrophoto’s, so with the holiday season coinciding with new moon, what did I do on the evening of 1st January 2014? Astrophotography! PS. While standing there taking astrophoto’s I was saying to myself “why am I taking more? I already have many yet to process from Kalbarri etc … oh well!”

Frustration erupted on the morning of the 2nd when I discovered my camera (I’m sure it was it’s fault, not mine) had switched between JPG and RAW a few times throughout the night!! I almost never shoot JPG. This has left many shots as “S1 JPG” … small JPG!!! Annoying to say the least. I am happy to have salvaged the above photograph which is a smart combination of RAW and JPG to use the resolution of the RAW and features of the JPG exposures I desired and for which resolution was not so critical. I’m hoping to salvage more through the magic of astrophotography image processing techniques.

This photograph is the first processed from the evening and shows the Southern Cross and Pointers with Eta Carina Nebula (up and to the left of the Southern Cross) in a beautiful fade of colours from green to blues and light orange/pinks. I do like the fade of blue towards the top as if looking out in to deeper space. Assign from a slight increase in overall saturation, the colours are all exactly as they were from the camera and are due to rather mundane physical factors of the scene in reality but conspire to make a beautiful artistic result.

Prints of this image are available for purchase. Click here for more product information.

Coastal Glow

Coastal Glow (Location: Kalbarri National Park)

Coastal Glow (Location: Kalbarri National Park)

This is another photograph from my Kalbarri National Park series. Here the striking cliffs of the coastal tumblagooda sandstone gorges meets a nice soft pink glow to the north, over the Indian Ocean. Buy Prints of this photograph.

Wheatbelt Kaleidoscope

Wheatbelt KaleidoscopeThe scenes of a fun evening under the stars in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia.

You can see from left to right: Pleaides star cluster, Constellation of Orion with the Great Orion Nebula, Sirius the brightest star in the sky (alsocalled the Dog Star due to it’s location in Canis Minor and the Large Magellanic Cloud (the light coloured cloud thing!). Distant light domes/colours on the sky are caused by Kellerberrin (centre-left), Tammin (right) and green airglow. My friend Dave is using his telescope in the foreground.

As you can see the night was partly cloudy. What you can’t see is the ominous cloud appearing on the left of frame was a small storm cell with a few flashes of lightning and rumble it decided to unleash while directly above us!

I love the open spaces and peaceful nature of the Wheatbelt, so I really like this photograph combining so many elements.