Tag Archives: Perth Observatory

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!

Perth Observatory Communications from Orbit

Perth Observatory under stars - Communications from Orbit?

Perth Observatory under stars – Communications from Orbit?

Following on from my previous post of he Perth Observatory Meridian Dome this is a fun photograph of a satellite dish atop another building at the Perth Observatory. Distinctly an observatory building but with the dome obscured by the high walls and my close proximity you will note the curved nature of the wall.

The Milky Way is shining nicely in the background above the Perth Observatory with notable features include the two pointers (Alpha & Beta Centauri) in the top right. Antares is the bright yellow star in the top-left-centre region. Beyond the bulge of the Milky Way the star density decreases to deep space.

I struggled to find a fun name for this photograph, starting off with “Messaging the Stars” but then thought about the practicalities of the dish being used for satellite internet connection which hardly justifies such a grand name! I settled on the “Communications from Orbit”, more representative of the actual infrastructure but perhaps less emotive! 🙂

Prints available upon request, drop me an email. 20% of all profits from Perth Observatory prints donated to operation of the observatory.

Next astrophotography workshop night at the Perth Observatory will follow my next astrophotography workshop in Perth on June 27th & 28th 2015.