My New Zealand readers might be familiar with the big kiwi bird in the Sagittarius region of the milky way. Can you see it? It looks kind of like a big ball sack to me but I can go with kiwi bird, sure.
This tiny patch of the milky way is dominated by Antares, the bright orange star on the left. Dark wispy tendrils of gases and clouds in this area are star-forming nebula that are so large, I can photograph them with a regular DSLR 55mm lens as done here.
This image is made from 20 x 30" exposures stacked together to draw out the cloud definition. The camera was piggybacked to a telescope that was tracking the sky rotation so the stars would not streak.
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This is my first attempt at the Lagoon Nebula (M8) and after much fiddling and cursing in the dark I managed to grab a few short frames that were relatively ok. About 4 or 5 exposures stacked together. Though not as sharp or detailed as I would like (the view slipped behind a tree just as I was fine tuning my equipment), Nebula are easily my favourite targets in the sky. The colours here are natural, just as my RGB camera captured them. The diffraction spikes however, are added in post processing for that classic retro star shine that older lenses and equipment would produce. Interestingly, they still feature regularly in NASA and award winning astro imagery but are not captured by modern telescope optics!
Hello there little meteor! You flew through the universe for aeons and came into my life briefly, until my planet burnt you to a crisp before you even had a chance to say hello. Now nobody knows you existed except for the small photons you deposited into the CMOS chip on my Nikon camera. Such is life.
Here is the view from the lookout at Coolamon Scenic Drive, just before the turnoff to Byron Bay. That is, if you look up, and not out.
My first iridium flare!
Which is a fancy word for the quick little glint of light that comes off satellite solar panels as they turn in the sky. They look like mini shooting stars. Trippy right?
It takes split second precision to catch them, especially when the sky is still quite bright so exposures are short. This one was a 4 second shot. Thank god for smartphones, which can predict and time them accurately wherever you are.
It is a little obscured by the branches, but I was thrilled to see Mars, Spica and Saturn all in frame when I looked closely later at home.
Thanks for all the great feedback about the last lighthouse photo I posted! It was featured on Common Ground Byron Bay last night and quickly gathered thousands of views and over 500 likes. Here is the other lighthouse photo that I shared online that a lot of people liked. It is a composite of 50 x 15 second exposures and gives you a good sense of how the earth rotates.