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!

 

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!

Moon, Jupiter and Spica

Moon, Jupiter and Spica from the 11th April 2017. Four moons of Jupiter are visible in the image also.

Jupiter has been moving through the night sky over the last few months as it becomes more of a evening object. It has been gliding past the bright star Spica and on the night of 11th April formed a nice triangle with the bright (99.7% illuminated) Full Moon. Above is a photograph from the night and below a photograph of the equipment taking some of the images.

Photographing the Moon, Jupiter and Spica on 11th April 2017. Shown is my Canon 6D on Megrez 80 tracked by my Astrotrac mount.

Rosette Nebula near Orion

Rosette Nebula near the constellation of Orion.

Continuing with my theme of fun and relatively straight forward astrophotographs using my little Fuji X-E2 camera, this is the beautiful Rosette Nebula near the constellation of Orion. Taken through my little Megrez 90 refractor of only 90mm aperture this came up quite easily from 1600ISO 5 minute exposures.

I enjoyed teaching participants how to take photographs through such telescopes at the recent Perth Observatory workshop which focused on astrophotography using telescopes. There will be another one or two of those workshops coming up on the other side of Winter.