Perth Observatory Shoot Photography Night

Perth Observatory Astrograph under the stars of the MIlky Way.

Perth Observatory Astrograph under the stars of the MIlky Way.

Perth Observatory Emu with Astrograph Dome

Perth Observatory Emu with Astrograph Dome

Last night I enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars at the Perth Observatory with participants from my Shoot Photography Studio Nightscapes workshop. The evening was just perfect – cool but not freezing, slight breeze but not too strong, no cloud!

Thanks to everyone who came along and had a great time. We got to photograph the Moon and Jupiter through an observatory telescope followed by lots of nightscapes and star trail shots, learning the ins and outs of focusing, tracking, ISO, noise reduction and where all our camera buttons are in the dark! I run the Shoot Photography Studio Nightscapes workshop several times each year and also provide one-on-one tutoring on-demand.

Eta Carina Fuji X-E2 Test

Eta Carina Nebula - Fuji X-E2 Test shot (1 frame, 6400ISO, 2 minute exposure)

Eta Carina Nebula – Fuji X-E2 Test shot (1 frame, 6400ISO, 2 minute exposure)

A little while ago I purchased an adaptor to fit my Fuji X-E2 on to my telescopes. It’s been a busy few months so I hadn’t had a chance to play with it until now. Last night I snapped a few pictures to test how the camera performs. It turns out I need another adapter (surprise surprise!) and so the tests ended up being without my field-flattener/corrector (which is sub-optimal). By not being able to include the field flattener you can notice some distortion around the periphery of the frame. This is easily cleaned up when having the correct combination of lenses used in the telescope – perhaps another night soon once I have sourced an adapter.

It is interesting to see what the Fuji can do. This nebula may be one of the brightest in the sky, and so one of the easiest and least challenging for the Fuji, but still it was very easy to bring out the colour. So far I am finding the Fuji X-E2 provides easier colour, especially in the reds and pinks, than the Canon 6D, and has no more noise than the 6D – perhaps less.

A classic but a goodie – Southern Sky

Southern Sky - Southern Cross, Pointers and Eta Carina. Also including the Coalsack dark nebula and thousands of Milky Way stars.

Southern Sky – Southern Cross, Pointers and Eta Carina. Also including the Coalsack dark nebula and thousands of Milky Way stars.

Click here for a larger image

This field of view might be a very familiar one, but I’m not sure that anyone ever tires of seeing it! This was taken a couple of weeks ago on a somewhat clear night. The lingering bits of cloud and other atmospheric effects have combined to give this image a nice diffuse appearance which has retained the beautiful star colour, and added variation in colour.

The pointers (Alpha and Beta Centauri are on the left, with the Coal Sack and Southern Cross to the right, and Eta Carina Nebula with Southern Pleiades further to the right.

I was messing around using my Fuji X-E2 on the night, seeing what it could do. This was a bunch of 30 second exposures. The camera was great fun to use for astrophotography although no without it’s hitches.

The Milky Way (with Eta Carina Nebula) meets the LMC

The Milky Way (with Eta Carina) meets the Large Magellanic Clouds

The Milky Way (with Eta Carina) meets the Large Magellanic Clouds

This photograph above showing wonderful pink and brown colours through the dusty Milky Way is a relatively simple stack of exposures from my Fuji X-E2 camera. The exposure times were only 30 seconds, and the night a balmy warm summer evening, but the camera has performed quite well to produce this result. Click here for larger size image.

Wheatbelt Astrophotography Fun

It’s not often these days that I manage a break under dark skies for astrophotography. Combination of work, volunteering at the Perth Observatory and my astrophotography small business persuits leaves little time! On the weekend of 23, 24 and 25th January I did return to a favourite wheatbelt stomping ground of mine. Here’s some photo’s from the weekend under the stars.

Wheatbelt Sunset on the 23rd January 2015. A typical sunset scene over the flat wheatbelt with the crescent moon and Venus both visible along with a lone silhouetted tree.

Wheatbelt Sunset on the 23rd January 2015. A typical sunset scene over the flat wheatbelt with the crescent moon and Venus both visible along with a lone silhouetted tree.

The first night was quite clear, although with mixed atmospheric conditions including some light cloud. Sunset was typical for the whetabelt – clear and golden with hue’s of blue high in the sky. This makes for beautiful silhouette photography. The crescent moon was stunning, watching it set low on the west horizon later in the evening was a highlight.

Eta Carina, Southern Cross, Coalsack and Pointers with nice variation in sky colour due to the atmospheric conditions on the night. Green skygow is visible above the brown "murk" affecting the area near the horizon. The Eta Carina nebula is showing nicely bright and pink in the upper left.

Eta Carina, Southern Cross, Coalsack and Pointers with nice variation in sky colour due to the atmospheric conditions on the night. Green skygow is visible above the brown “murk” affecting the area near the horizon. The Eta Carina nebula is showing nicely bright and pink in the upper left.

The constellation of Orion high in the northern sky with the Milky Way extending down to the horizon on the right, Pleiades below, and if you squint hard enough a hint of Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy low on the left in the "murk".

The constellation of Orion high in the northern sky with the Milky Way extending down to the horizon on the right, Pleiades below, and if you squint hard enough a hint of Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy low on the left in the “murk” (it looks much like a star, it’s tail hidden by the poor atmospheric conditions that low to the horizon).

A simple and typical but nice sunset panoramic over the wheatbelt.

A simple and typical but nice sunset panoramic over the wheatbelt.

The second night was partly cloudy, as the above sunset photograph shows. This is not all bad for astronomy, the clouds passing in front of background stars and Milky Way can make for great wide-field photographs and timelapse sequences. On this particular night the wind also kicked up at about 11pm which made the conditions unpleasant enough to call it a night at that stage. Plenty of good astrophoto’s captured in the first few hours though.

A very picturesque representation of clouds flying overhead, lit by the thin crescent moon and fading twilight. Sitting back listening to some favourite music while watching the twilight end.

A very picturesque representation of clouds flying overhead, lit by the thin crescent moon and fading twilight. Sitting back listening to some favourite music while watching the twilight end. It’s hard to beat.

The most striking thing about this photograph is the green sky, caused by an astmospheric effect these days referred to as "skyglow". The photo features Jupiter and the open cluster known as the Beehive Cluster, which is in the constellation of Cancer.

The most striking thing about this photograph is the green sky, caused by an astmospheric effect these days referred to as “skyglow”. The photo features Jupiter and the open cluster known as the Beehive Cluster, which is in the constellation of Cancer.

Constellation of Orion with Comet Lovejoy

The constellation of Orion with the comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy).

The constellation of Orion with the comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy).

The christmas comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is joined here in this photograph with the easily recognised constellation of Orion. Shown in the orientation as viewed in the Southern Hemisphere,the constellation of Orion appears as we often call it as “the saucepan”, up-side-down if considering it to be Orion the hunter.

In the constellation of Orion within the photograph you can see:

  • Barnard’s Loop – the faint pink/red nebulosity surrounding Orion to the right in an arc.
  • The Flame Nebula, near the 3rd bright star making up the belt of Orion (or the base of the saucepan if in the southern hemisphere!).
  • A hint of the pink which contains the Horsehead Nebula just above the Flame Nebula.
  • The Great Orion Nebula, in the sward of Orion (or the handle of the saucepan if in the southern hemisphere!)
  • The bright blue-white star Rigel to the top-left of Orion.
  • Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) above Orion with it’s beautiful blue-green colour.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) continues to shine

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) without stars.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) without stars.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) with stars.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) with stars.

The bright Christmas comet of 2014 continues to shine beautifully high in the night sky. Now moving north and located directly south of the constellation of Orion (about 20 degrees south of Orion) the comet is sporting a beautiful tail. The comet is visible to the naked eye under dark skies, but this is not the case from my outer suburban location where it shows nicely visually in a telescope but not naked eye.

Comet C/2014 Q2 was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer and comet hunter Terry Lovejoy.

Photographs of Comet C/2014 Q2 can be purchased from me as prints, canvas or digital media for approved use. Contact me for more information.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on the 20th December 2014

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on the 20th December 2014

Comet-C2014-Q2-(Lovejoy)---comet-align-median-DBE

The intrepid Aussie comet hunter, Terry Lovejoy has done it again by finding another spectacular comet. His C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) comet turned in to an amazing naked eye comet in 2012, will this one do similar? At the moment Q2 is only showing a hairline tail visible in photographs even though it’s nucleus is very bright.

The image above is a photograph I took of comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on the 17th December 2014. It’s a colour image from my 6D DSLR, a series of 10 exposures each 3 minutes in length at 2500ISO.

The new comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is currently naked eye visible, at about magnitude 5.9. It is currently located almost directly between the bright stars Sirius and Canopus, putting it in a perfect position for viewing and photography throughout the night (in the southern hemisphere at least). The below image shows where you can find it on the 17th December 2014 at 9:30pm AWST:

Comet-C2014-Q2-(Lovejoy)---finder-2014-12-17

Seconds and Specials (limited time only)

I have uploaded some photographs of once off, prototype and seconds prints which have been collecting dust in my office. Browse the collection and grab yourself a $5 or $10 bargain.

Click here to hunt a bargain and find your astro print

Most prints $5. Postage additional.

specials-contact-sheet

2015 Astronomy Calendar now available!

2015 Astronomy Calendar - Back Cover

2015 Astronomy Calendar – Back Cover

Plan your astrophotography and viewing year of 2015 with this useful calendar packed full of astronomical information – upcoming events, great pictures, and more. More Info