Phil's blog

Accessories for Night Sky Photography

Dew Heaters

Dew forms on cold camera lenses at night just like condensation forms on your car window when you park it in the open on a cold night. Through the cold half of the year, dew can form within half an hour making any further night sky photography very difficult.

Skiing the Jagungal Wilderness (almost K2K)

What an epic trip.. nine days back country skiing in the Australian 'Alps'. Who'd have thought such a long, remote and rewarding ski trek could be had in our own backyard. View the full album of photos on SmugMug. If you're planning your own K2K or back-country ski in the Jagungal Wilderness, read the planning notes.

Kiandra to Kosciuszko (K2K) Ski Tour Planning Notes

Trip Planning for Kiandra to Kosciuszko (K2K)

Kiandra to Kosciuszko is Australia’s classic long-distance ski tour, dating back to around 1927 when the route was first completed by Schlink. More realistically it is Australia’s only long distance winter tour, with walking at least part of the way a likely requirement. When planning our trip in 2014, we were surprised at the lack of consolidated information online. This page brings together some of what we learned along the way, with thanks particularly to Tracey-Ann who did much of our pre-trip planning.


Photo by Tracey-Ann

Partial Solar Eclipse at Lake Bolac


Canon 5D Mark II, 300mm lens and 2x converter, 1/250 sec ISO100

Lunar Eclipse at Maryborough Station

With this lunar eclipse starting low in the sky, I decided to try and capture an image sequence of the partial phases showing the type of photography that can be done with simple gear and 'night sky photography' techniques. After some on-line and on-ground scouting around my new home territory in central Victoria, I settled on the grand old Maryborough Railway Station as my location, which *just* allowed me the sight lines on the eclipse I needed, or at least so I thought from Google Earth and Streetview.


Partial Phases of Lunar Eclipse over Maryborough Station

Execution went mostly to plan and this result is close to what I had in mind, except that the car park and grounds at the station had been significantly reworked since Google Earth/Streetview was last there so that threw out my planning a little. I was using a tall ladder to gain a little extra clearance over the roof of the station, hoping to pick up an image of the Moon at the end of totality, but my compass alignment wasn't quite accurate enough and so that happened behind the clock tower. Still I wanted the action to be close to the tower and the centre of the frame so I'm happy with how this worked out. I have several other versions of the foreground during twilight to experiment with as well.

First Nights with the eMotimo TB3 (Review)

I first saw the eMotimo Tilt-Box motion control units two years ago, when a participant on my Night Sky Photography Workshops brought one along to play with. I could see then that they were both well designed and built and also great fun. With the release of the Black TB3 version and my own experiments with motion control needing an upgrade, I couldn't resist getting my hands on one and hope this review will encourage others to have a play with one of their own.

Light Pollution - An Unnecessary Evil


Light Pollution over Melbourne as seen from Kinglake

Light Pollution is an unnecessary evil, a sad result of poor lighting design.

Light Pollution:

Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein: August 2013

Any trip away from home is an excuse to find dark skies and interesting locations for night sky photography, and a trip to the Australian Astro Imaging Conference (AAIC) was no exception, despite its Gold Coast location.

While planning the trip, I considered that it was almost the ideal time of year (in the southern hemisphere) to capture the zodiacal light in the west, with brilliant Venus set to be blazing in the middle of it. And a trip up north from Melbourne would further increase the angle of the zodiacal light, putting it almost vertical to the horizon with the Milky Way running overhead across the sky at the end of twilight as well. Later in the night the Gegenschein (counter-glow) would rise, in a dark part of the sky well separated from the Milky Way.


Magellenic Clouds (left), Milky Way plus Venus and the Zodiacal Light
Maranoa Wetlands, Queensland, Monday 26th August, 2013
Canon 6D, 24mm lens, Panorama of 27 images, each 30 secs, f2.8, ISO3200

Listening to Pulsars: The CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

I was in Parkes, NSW in July for the Central West Astronomical Society's Astrofest and the David Malin Awards, of which I was fortunate to pick up a couple. No trip to Parkes is complete without some night sky photography out at 'The Dish' so Greg Gibbs and I met up out there on the Friday a little before sunset. We enjoyed only drab grey conditions (even some rain) until after sunset but then a short-lived sucker hole allowed us just a few minutes, before we gave up and headed back into town. After dinner I noticed the sky was clear, and despite little certainty of it staying that way I headed back out and was rewarded with a couple of hours of lovely clear sky.

The Australian CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope listening for pulsars in the Milky Way, 12th July 2013.

Software for Night Sky Photography

Planetarium and other Planning Software

Stellarium: Stellarium is a superb piece of planetarium software that renders a beautiful simulation of the sky at night (or day) for any time you like and from anywhere on Earth (and even other locations around the solar system). It's easy to use, and free!

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