Author Archives: Roger Groom

Workshops and the Milky Way

Perth Observatory Lowell Dome under the Milky Way with Jupiter above. Jupiter being near Opposition (May 2018)

It has been a crazy busy 2018 with workshops almost continuous. The first half of this year I’ve had a fun string of workshops all the way from a very busy January with many one-on-one workshops through to a very busy May with group bookings. Highlights this month were a private group one-on-one for a group of work colleagues (couple of hours workshop, dinner at the pub, then photo shoot), Shoot Workshops full day workshop, Stargazers Club WA on-site workshop at Lake Leschenaultia and a string of other one-on-one’s.

A feature of my workshops is that I have several tracking mounts and lots of telescope gear you can try (depending on your interests). The Vixen Polarie (supplied by Steve at the well respected australian supplier www.myastroshop.com.au is always a hit but there’s also he iOptron, AstroTrac, Losmandy and others.

This photograph was a quick snap last night at Perth Observatory while participants around me were using their cameras, tripods and my mounts for astrophotography. This is a single 30 second exposure with the Canon 6D.

Dark southern skies and green air glow

Dark southern skies and rich green airglow in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

From the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia another night of fantastic dark clear skies. From my experience February tends to have quite a few nights compared to the rest of the year exhibiting green air glow and last night was just one time. Beautiful rich green across the sky was visible even in short exposures.

This photograph features the familiar Southern Cross and Pointers (alpha and beta Centauri) quite prominently along with the Milky Way and Small Magellanic Cloud (right). The Eta Carina nebula is also visible (top of Milky Way).

2017 Geminid Meteors

2017 Geminid Meteor from the WA Wheatbelt on the 14th December 2017 at 03:03am local time.

I took a drive to the Wheatbelt for some Geminid meteors among other things on the 14th December 2017. I had my usual two cameras with me, the Canon 6D and Fuji X-E2. The 6D was shooting with a Canon full-circular fisheye (8-15mm F/4) and the Fuji with the Samyang 12mm F/2.

I left both cameras going as long as their batteries would last, which ended up being about 2:30am for the Canon and 3:30am for the Fuji. This lucky strike of a bright meteor was captured by the Fuji X-E2 at 3:03am local time. It’s a bright meteor that’s for sure! The green hue is very obvious and would have been fantastic to see in person, but I was asleep at the time!

Aurora Australis at Perth Observatory

Aurora Australis at Perth Observatory on the 8th September 2017

There’s a big buzz around aurora activity at the moment, with the large solar flares erupting from the sun causing potentially good conditions for aurora to be visible. On the 8th September I and what seemed like half of Perth were out to photograph the Aurora. The hard decision is always where to go and in this case limiting factors were it being friday after a busy week of work, the almost full moon rising at 8pm, and large areas of cloud about the state. Given all that I decided to make the short trip to the Perth Observatory where I volunteer.

I took a couple of hours of time lapse from two cameras. This photograph is from my Canon 6D using the Samyang 24mm f/1.4. It is largely a single frame utilising some data from two other frames for masking out some bright lights in the foreground (it was a public viewing night).

Pink aurora is visible across an area of the southern horizon. It would have been extending only a few degrees above the horizon but is quite noticeable in the raw and processed frames. The aurora was not visible to the naked eye. Above the aurora australis you can see the Large Magellanic Cloud. The sky is lit by the moon which had risen a little at the time, but blocked by cloud enough to not illuminate the foreground. The foreground features the domes of the Perth Observatory lit by the red lights of tour guides hosting a group of public on one of the regular Night Sky Tours.

Now to work on the time lapse!

Milky Way Rising

The Milky Way rising over Lake Leschenaultia

On the 23rd April I had a one-on-one workshop with a return customer of mine. This time we went to Lake Leschenaultia, my local stomping ground. It was a fantastic clear and cool night, absolutely perfect conditions. Seeing as we already knew each other it was great to just have a fun night shooting nightscapes in good company, with me helping out as we went along.

This photograph was later in  the evening, after in theory the workshop should have finished, but hey, I wasn’t going home any earlier than I had to! The Milky Way is rising beautifully in the south-east at this time of the year, it is indeed “Milky Way Season”.

Coming up in May is a workshop I’m involved in at the lake, with Russell and the staff at Midland Camera House, who are also locals to the area like me, really looking forward to it!