First light with my observatory just barely functioning in April 2016.

Rival to Mars
Mars and its Rival Antares and the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex
CDS-5D, Canon 200mm lens, 110 * 2mins , ISO800.


Skywatcher Star Adventurer: Review

Skywatcher were not the first to offer portable tracking mounts but the Star Adventurer unit is a very capable and complete package. It is heavier but also has a more substantial payload than the competing options and it did feel much more comfortable supporting my full frame Canon camera and 200mm lens. Once you go beyond wide angle lenses, tracking accuracy still limits you to quite short exposures but a lot can be achieved with this portable 'track and stack' approach. The combination of flexible tracking rates, quality built-in polar scope and latitude base plus the suitability for timelapse should make this quite an attractive option.


Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

What a ripper of a comet! Another Christmas special discovered by Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy. In the days after Christmas I enjoyed a several late nights photographing this comet and its beautiful tail. So much fun but so much data my computer was grinding to a halt!

29th December

2014-12-29 1450 UTTakahashi Epsilon 160 530mm f3.3CDS-5D (Central DS modified Canon 5D Mark III)A sequence of five exposures of 2 mins each at ISO2500 was used to create this image, using Adobe Lightroom, After Effects and PixInsight.
2014-12-29 1450 UT
Click to view larger size on SmugMug

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

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 Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm lens at 82mm Nine exposures of the Moon each 1/90 sec, f/8, ISO200 stacked (using lighten blending mode) with one 2 second exposure of foreground.

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:

    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 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


    Subscribe to RSS - astrophotography