Phil's blog

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'.


Click for full size

Cloud Forecasts for Australian Astronomers

Cloud Forecast Loop

Summary

Almost all free weather websites and smartphone apps use data from the United States GFS global weather model as it is the only one openly published for all to use. But for cloud forecasts in the Australian region, there are two significantly better (although less user friendly) options you should also be looking at. All up then, here are my three recommended sources for cloud forecasts in the Australian region:

1) Synthetic Satellite Forecast Loop from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology ACCESS model: Australian Region Forecast Loop.
2) European Model forecast via the Norwegian site yr.no (the only site I know of that publishes European Model data: e.g. Heathcote, Victoria. Search for your nearest largest town, then choose 'Hour by Hour' and 'Detailed' to see the full cloud breakdown for high/medium/low cloud.
3) US Model via Skippy Sky: This is the best display of GFS data and the most user friendly of these three options. I would place greater weight on the previous two models though, particularly for short-term forecasts.

Southern Skies Exhibition at Michaels Camera Store

Michaels Camera Store in Melbourne are hosting an exhibition of astrophotography images taken by members of the Astronomical Society of Victoria.

The exhibition will be on in the upstairs gallery at Michaels Camera Store, corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets in Melbourne. Opening night is Friday 3rd September from 5:30-7:30pm. The exhibition will then run until Thursday 30th September during store hours, Mon-Thu 9-6pm, Fri 9-9pm, Sat 9-5pm and Sun 11-5pm.

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