Monthly Archives: May 2014

Lighthouse Milky Way

Lighthouse, Salt Lake and Milky Way with the Large Magellanic Cloud (left).

Lighthouse, Salt Lake and Milky Way with the Large Magellanic Cloud (left).

Alone in the dark on an island, cycling around with my astrophotography gear, here I am looking out over a salt lake in front of me to a lighthouse in the distance. You can see a split in the beam of the lighthouse due to the particular refraction of the light coming from the lighthouse, and a big looming mass of cloud on the right encroaching from the north and threatening to put an end to my night.

The usual suspects of the Large Magellanic Cloud and our Milky Way are in the sky, along with the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, which is just setting in the west (to the right of he lighthouse).

This photograph was taken on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. The island has several inland salt lakes like the one shown and also has two lighthouses, this being the only operational one. Cycling is the main form of transport on the island with no cars accessible to the general public. Cycling at night is not common and certainly on this case I think I was the only crazy person out and about cycling around the island in the dead of night!

Occultation of Saturn by the Moon 14th May 2014

Occultation of Saturn by The Moon - 14th May 2014

Occultation of Saturn by The Moon – 14th May 2014

View larger size image by clicking here, to see Saturn better.

Last night was a very busy night! Arriving home late from work via some grocery shopping and then 3 hours of recording the occultation of Saturn by The Moon after hurriedly setting up my portable telescope to capture the event! It’s a shame that my observatory doesn’t have a good view of the ecliptic at most times of the year.

Most of my footage of the event was captured through a 8″ SCT (good old orange tube C8!) but the above is from later on once the pair had cleared trees, viewable from my observatory using the William Optics Megrez 90 ~600mm focal length. The image has been cropped. By halfway through the event cloud was obscuring the Moon so I was lucky to get this brief peak of the pair after egress. I quite like the shot, even if it doesn’t show Saturn in high resolution.

The difference in brightness between the Moon and Saturn was significant. The above photograph has been adjusted to compensate somewhat, and is a HDR stack of frames, to help make both the Moon and Saturn visible, while retaining a natural appearance.

Below is another photograph, taken from a single video of the event. With the dramatic brightness difference between the Moon and Saturn I as surprised to retrieve such a usable result from the single exposure settings:

Saturn Occulted by The Moon - 14th May 2014

Saturn Occulted by The Moon – 14th May 2014

View larger size of the above image by clicking here.

And finally to cap it off, here is the Full Moon complete with Saturn below as per the above photograph (which was one frame of a mosaic making up the full moon disk below):

Full Moon with Saturn - 14th May 2014. Just prior to the Moon occulting Saturn.

Full Moon with Saturn – 14th May 2014. Just prior to the Moon occulting Saturn.

View a larger size image of the Full Moon with Saturn here.

The Pines

The Pines - A stand of pine trees together with the Large Magellanic Cloud  and constellation of Orion setting.

The Pines – A stand of pine trees together with the Large Magellanic Cloud and constellation of Orion setting.

I recently enjoyed a few days on Rottnest Island. Days were filled with landscape and nature photography, and exploring the plentiful bays and salt lakes, while one night was dedicated to astrophotography. The conditions were less than ideal, and I was alone (something I prefer not to be) so I can’t say I got the best out of the night,but I did get something.

It’s an interesting experience cycling around Rottnest Island in the dead of night when everyone else wouldn’t even consider being out and about. In fact it’s an interesting concept cycling to do astrophotography just for starters! How would you carry your tripods, camera gear and astrophotography mount on a bicycle?! I managed but I have to say walking or driving makes the job easier (cars are not an option on Rottnest Island). Anyhow, it was just me and 1,000,000 quokka friends out there! The pesky creatures wouldn’t leave me alone for a second, scratching at my tripod and my camera bag.

This shot is one of about 5 astrophoto’s which I will end up publishing from the night. The others will take some time to get out as priorities do battle for my evening time. This photograph is of a nice stand of pine trees in a bit of a valley. The glow beyond the pine trees is a lighthouse. To the top left is the Large Magellanic Cloud and setting on the right is the constellation of Orion with the pink colour of the Orion Nebula quite obvious. The hillside surrounding the pines is covered in tufty grasses.