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)

Summit

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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Karalee Aqueduct

Karalee Rocks Aqueduct under the Milky Way.

Karalee Rocks Aqueduct under the Milky Way.

Built in 1897 this aqueduct and associated stone wall and reservoir are in incredibly good condition, making a very interesting historical site to visit, and one that is suitable for astrophotography. I enjoy being there under the stars imagining what it was like for the people who constructed and lived at the facility in 1897 knowing that the night sky they would have seen then would have looked almost identical to the sky I am looking up at. I’ve been visiting granite outcrops and associated reserves in the Wheatbelt of WA since about 2001, and this is now one of my favorites. Karalee Rocks has a large granite wall which channels the water to this aqueduct and then on to the associated dam.

The Karalee Aqueduct was built to service the Perth to Kalgoorlie (goldfields) railway in the late 1800’s and was in service until desel trains took over after 1950. The project was quite an undertaking for the time and this is obvious in the grand construction of the aqueduct (only the shorter section is shown in this photograph, it goes to well over twice my height eventually) and stone wall around the Karalee Rocks (some slabs of granite being about my height).

In the above photograph the Milky Way shines brightly over the iron aqueduct as I returned from over 5 hours hiking around the Karalee Rocks with my camera gear.

You might think “5 hours hiking, that’s nothing!” but 5 hours dissapears very quickly at night when busy photographing and with no sun to make the changing time so noticable. 5:30pm – 11:30pm flys by and is a long time to be constantly on your feet hiking and taking photo’s. I can tell you after all that time standing up, walking over jagged rock, carrying a bunch of gear and wearing warm enough clothes for the sub-5-degrees temperature, I was very keen to get back to the car and rest! But – I couldn’t help but try and get a decent photo of what I went to Karalee for and ended up spending another 40 minutes on my feet before deciding to call it a night.

Read more about the history of Karalee at this excellent web page. It explains about the goldfields railway for which the Karalee aquifer was built to supply.

Find out more about how to take Nightscape photographs like this at my astrophotography workshops.

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Goldfields Outcrop Milky Way

The Milky Way rises in the east over a granite outcrop in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

The Milky Way rises in the east over a granite outcrop in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

The Milky Way rises above a granite outcrop in the Goldfields region of Western Australia. Settling down for the first shot of the evening, I decided to leave my backpack in the exposures, recognising the presence of the one person taking the photographs.

Stars can be seen reflecting in the bottom left rock pool. Gazing in to these rock pools with stars and the Milky Way reflecting is like looking through a portal in to another universe. Up in the sky there is the Eta Carina Nebula in the far right top, Southern Cross and Pointers nearby and near the head of The Emu which is virtually sitting on the rock.

The colour of the rock jumps out at you under the moonlight which is illuminating the landscape and giving the night sky some of its blue hue.

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