Tag Archives: Perth Observatory

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.

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!

The Waning [almost] Full Moon

The Waning [almost] Full Moon. 8 photographs merged in a mosaic, so there are some blending artifacts making this not a 100% accurate “map”. But hey, it looks good.

On the 13th April after leading a Full Moon tour at the Perth Observatory I took a moment to whip out my Fuji X-E2 and snap a mosaic of the Moon. This is a mosaic of 8 frames. There are some blending artifacts so don’t rely on this being a 100% scientifically accurate map of the Moon! (but hey, it looks good)

Blending mosaics of the Moon like this has become incredibly easy in recent years. The old days of 1990’s and early 2000’s photoshopping it would be a very manual affair with masks and adjustments. Now, a simple click will blend images of different brightness in to a seamless image. Photoshop doesn’t show any sympathy for all my painful hours of processing such moon mosaics in years gone by!

A busy start to 2017!

What a busy start to 2017 I’ve had! Four workshops and counting, public talks to well over 100 people, 60hours/month volunteering at the Perth Observatory and so much more! It’s no wonder that it’s hard to find time for astrophotography other than regular scripted research observations.

Here are some photographs from a recent astrophotography workshop held at the Perth Observatory. It was full day, going from 12:30pm until 10pm, but for me that means 10am until midnight.

After all these workshops it’s been good to spend a small but enjoyable amount of time in my own observatory with my simple little camera (Fuji X-E2) mounted on my Megrez 90 refractor telescope. This rewarding combination is a great fun way to reinvigorate astrophotography interest. While the following images are only short sequences, resulting in less than perfect results, it shows what can be done in a night of fun light-hearted astrophotography.

Horsehead Nebula – Fuji XE-2, 1600ISO, 10 x 5 minute exposures.

Millions and Millions – Omega Centauri with about 10 million stars.

Millions and Millions – Omega Centauri with about 10 million stars (cropped view).

Perth Observatory Astrograph Telescope

Perth Observatory Astrograph Telescope with the Southern Cross, Coalsack and Eta Carina Nebula visible through the roof.

It’s so much fun to be involved at the Perth Observatory (where I volunteer with the Perth Observatory Volunteer Group), and it’s nice as a little reward for the hundreds of hours volunteering every year to have the pleasure of photographing on-site now and then (although it is hard to fit around the things to do!).  Last night I enjoyed some late night photography after a tour and this photograph of the historic Astrograph Telescope is one of the highlights from the evening.

Visible through the opening of the dome is the Southern Cross, Coalsack (dark nebula) and Eta Carina nebula. Good timing to nab them through the roof!