Astroterrestrial photos from Acraman

29 April 2019

Some more astroterrestrial photographs.

All of this you can do yourself. All I used was a DSLR and a fish-eye lens on a tripod. I didn't do any tracking, so the stars are very slightly trailing.

Building on the posts from a couple of weeks back, I tried to put the theory into practice.

The first photo is taken from Spear Creek near Port Augusta. It was about 3am on the 10th of April, so the Moon had set and the bow of the Milky Way was very high. This is a 30s single exposure at f/3.5, ISO 6400, and I pushed the levels around in Photoshop a bit - not too much. The bright object is Jupiter and above that, next to Antares, you can just make out the dust lanes of Rho Ophiuchi.

Now the bad bit: it was a windy night and my light painting was not good. I used an LED torch, and went back over the tree on the right a second time. You can see the tree had moved in the wind, giving an irritating double exposure.

The second photo was a test shot at Acraman Bore. I was setting the camera out, the idea being that I set my alarm for 2am or so and come back to get the whole of the Milky Way. By that time a light high cloud had come over.

It's another single 20s exposure, again at ISO 3200. I wanted more depth of focus to get the dead tree sharp, so I set it back to f/5.6. This may not have been necessary, but it looked better on the camera's preview screen. With this level of light gathering, the Emu didn't really come out. I'd planned either to expose for longer or use a wider aperture for the real shot. For this one I used my phone as a light painter, and it worked quite well I think.

I like that you can see both the Small and the Large Magellanic Clouds, but the nearly-half Moon was behind me, so this test was never going to be a great shot. I also need a non-orthogonal lens. The fish-eye is irritating.

Camera, lens, tripod, dark sky. That's all you need. A tracker like a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer would make it better.

Send me your photos. I'll put them up here.