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 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!
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!
Natures Window (Kalbarri, Western Australia)
Natures Window wth the Milky Way astrophotography
Back in August 2016 I had family holiday up in sunny Kalbarri and managed to get out to do astrophotography on one night. Natures Window has long been on my target list but it has it’s challenges! So many challenges that I’ve been sitting on the images and processing them on and off over the last 3 months, still struggling with most.
If you think of doing astrophotography at Natures Window take precautions!
- There is no mobile reception
- It is VERY dark
- There are steep cliffs surrounding the window
- It is easy to trip on the undulating rock in the dark
- It’s quite a drive inland, some of it un-surfaced and bumpy, which you need to take carefully due to the abundant wildlife that can jump out in front of your car
To manage the risks I had my Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with me, had a set time my family was expecting me home and used white light whenever moving around the rock feature near the cliffs, to easily see what was in front of me (I find red light can easily hide detail, especially hen the ground is red!).
Natures Window is difficult to photograph for astrophotography. The primary reason is that you cannot get away from it! Once near it, the cliffs drop away on either side after a short distance. This leaves you with limited framing opportunities and the need for a very wide angle lens.
I have many more photographs of it to process, but they are taking some time! Maybe another 3 months 🙂
Pre-dawn celestial signs of the Wheatbelt. Pleiades, crescent Moon and constellation of Orion.
Continuing on from my early morning astrophotography session out in the WA Wheatbelt in July this photograph is from just before dawn, the golden twilight colours showing and progressively hiding the stars. The Pleiades, constellation of Orion and other stars are still clearly visible along with the delicate crescent Moon low on the horizon. Low mist is in the distant valley with a hint of the green wheatfield visible. What a magical time of day.
This astrophotograph was taken with my Fuji X-E2, my current favourite camera. Colours are exactly as shot in-camera with no increased saturation or altered levels. The Fuji X-E2 does a great job of rendering colours and controlling noise. This is a HDR composite of three exposures in order to retain the Moon which would have otherwise been overexposed. You can see the crescent is white, with “Earth Shine” illuminating the remainder of the Moon.