astrophotography

The CDS-5D: A seriously cool camera (Review)

I've used a few modified Canon DSLR cameras over the years for my astrophotography, including an Astro40D from Central DS which I used for many years of widefield astrophotography including one of my favourite ever images of the Southern Cross region.

With a new home (at least part-time) under dark skies I decided it was time for an upgrade and took the plunge with the CDS-5D (see disclosure below). This is my review of the camera, which will be updated with more tests and images.


CDS-5D with Pentax 300mm lens
Single 5 minute sub-exposure, f5.6, ISO800

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.

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:

Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) in February 2013

I've just come back from three nights running a Night Sky Photography Workshop at Lake Eppalock, and while I was supposed to be instructing, I was also very keen to capture some images of Comet Lemmon (and Comet Panstarrs) over the weekend.

The weather continued hot and dry like it has all this Victorian summer, and so while we had largely clear skies at night we were battling a lot of smoke haze (and some high cloud) that made the sky low in the south quite murky (at best) on Friday and Saturday nights. The night of Sunday 17th February 2013 was considerably better, and so I was very pleased to be able to capture this image.

Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon
Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon, 17th February 2013
Takahashi Epsilon 160 (530mm, f3.3) and Canon/Astro 40D
100 * 1 minute exposures @ ISO1600

Solar Eclipse in Queensland: 14th November 2012

Solar Corona during 14th November 2012 Total Eclipse

Even though this total solar eclipse was 3000km from Melbourne, it was still on home territory which meant it was an opportunity too good to miss. So with some friends in the Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV), I arranged to have a serious amount of astrophotography gear freighted up to Queensland several weeks in advance.

With the eclipse occurring on the morning of Wednesday 14th November, we arrived in Port Douglas the weekend beforehand, just as a big, wet and cloudy weather trough moved through. But the weather settled back into a more normal easterly pattern in the following days, which meant that on eclipse day there was likely be partly cloudy conditions on the coast but good prospects of clear skies inland. So Monday was spent scouting locations inland with James McHugh from the ASV and Russell and Julieanne from Adobe.

After dinner for my partner Karen's birthday on the Tuesday evening, I headed to our chosen site on the Mulligan Highway together with my dad who was keen enough to increase his chances of seeing his first eclipse to sacrifice the comfortable bed in our beach house accommodation.

Transit of Venus at Sunrise from Leipzig

Transit of Venus behind Communication Tower
Transit of Venus behind Communication Tower, Leipzig: Wednesday 6th June 2012
Canon 5D MarkII, 600mm lens + 2x teleconverter

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

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