I managed to spare some time on the 2nd & 3rd November 2015 to do a spot of aurora chasing. Still only local, but an opportunity to get out and try or a few shots. The 2nd turned out to be not so good, a brief aurora show followed by heavy dew and then cloud. The 3rd on the other hand turned out quite pleasing with a nice in-camera show of aurora. Here are some photographs from Lake Leschenaultia in Chidlow, in the hills of Perth Western Australia. There is nothing special about this location for Aurora, it’s simply just around the corner from where I live so convenient with reasonably dark and low southern horizons which is what you need for aurora.
I have recently been having some fun re-discovering simple low fuss astrophotography with my Fuji X-E2. This camera is excellent at picking up nebula colours due largely to its sensor technology which means no low-pass filter and low noise. The above exposure is only 15 minutes worth of data, from a semi-light polluted outer suburban location in Perth (my patio at 2am!) yet it shows good red nebula including Barnard’s Loop which stands out quite strongly. Orion features the Orion Nebula, Flame and Horsehead which are all quite visible (although the shape of the horsehead is too small to distinguish at this scale).
Every camera has it’s advantages and disadvantages for astrophotography, and the where the Fuji excels is in image quality and sensitivity, but where it fails is focus and usability. Using the fly-by-wire focus mechanism employed by the camera it is very hard to achieve perfect focus.
The Constellation of Orion is currently rising quite late. It’s a spectacular and familiar summer (December-February) night sky object for us in the southern hemisphere. With Orion being high around Christmas it’s often one of the first viewed through new telescopes too
Progressing on from the previouse “A Small Piece of our Nearby Universe” this is a slightly larger piece! A strip cutting through the Large Magellanic Cloud which is now a composite of two frame mosaic (original frame left, new frame right). I like the subtle nature and “deep space” feel of this image.
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.
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:
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.
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).