Phil's blog

Chasing Aurora in the Yukon: Week 1


Leaving Home in a post-Cooinda Hurry

20th January, the day I left Melbourne, I woke to a text message alerting me to the news that there had a been a major eruption from a sunspot on the sun, which had hurled a 'coronal mass ejection' (CME) towards earth. This was the first significant eruption in many months from a sun still emerging from an extended minimum. So for the next 48 hours, I would be racing that CME across the solar system to Whitehorse in the Yukon. Kaz dropped me at the airport for the start of the journey, both of us looking forward to Part II of this adventure when she joins me in Scotland in early April.

Six days of Comet Lovejoy

Following my attempts to photograph Comet Lovejoy before Christmas, I also managed to record some timelapse sequences over six consecutive mornings after Christmas. All this while I was Summer Camp Director for Camp Cooinda on the Gippsland Lakes!

40 Orionid Meteors - 23rd October 2011

Last weekend at the Lake Eppalock retreat in central Victoria, I tried to repeat the process that got me this previous image of the Geminid meteors in 2009. However since the Orionids are generally a less active shower, I wasn't expecting to be able to do as well. It seems I was wrong.


click for larger image

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy - the Christmas Comet

Lightning and a Lunar Eclipse: 10th December 2011

We just had an eclipse in July, but the next one is not till 2014 so I wanted to make the most of this one. A number of looming deadlines made the weekend away for astrophotography hard to fit in and unlike the eclipse in July (winter!), the weather for this eclipse was definitely not cooperating either. Still, I guess you could say we got lucky and it just about worked out ok.

End of total phase of lunar eclipse

Workshops Feedback

Feedback from Night Sky Photography Workshop Participants


Phil has a great love of the night sky which he shares in the form of infinite patience and a ‘no question is stupid’ approach.
Liz, June 2011

The course was well balanced with a good mix of theory and hands-on practical. Great weekend, great information.
Merri-Lyn, June 2011

Lunar Eclipse from Mt Buffalo: 16th June 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse from Mt Buffalo, 16th June 2011.
Total Lunar Eclipse Composite: Mt Buffalo, 16th June 2011
Takahashi FS-102 and Canon 5DmkII


This is my summary of the lunar eclipse in June 2011, which I enjoyed under clear skies from the sub-zero but beautiful surroundings of the Mt Buffalo plateau in north-east Victoria. Photos and more below!

QHY9 vs Astro40D

Any addicted astrophotographer is always considering new equipment, and also debating the merits of several options. One of the most common questions for beginners is about the difference between digital SLRs and astronomical CCD cameras. I love a good experiment so below is my answer.

Both these images were taken with a Takahashi Epsilon 160 astrograph (530mm f3.3). Total exposure time for both images is 115 minutes (almost two hours). The comparison is between a CentralDS cooling modified and spectrum enhanced Canon 40D and a QHY9 astronomical CCD camera.

Marlay Point Overnight Sailing Race 2011

More photos in the Gallery.

This was the second time I've been in the Marlay Point Overnight Race, sailing through the night from Marlay Point on Lake Wellington in Victoria's Gippsland Lakes to Paynesville.

Airglow and other thoughts on dark sky sites

The sky at night is not black. Dark yes, but certainly not black. I now have enough data from dark sky sites in central and western Victoria and the Ice In Space Astro Camp at Lostock in NSW to offer some comments on what makes the sky bright and how far you have to travel to get a 'dark sky'.


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