The South polar area as photographed by Sam

I came across this photo a week or two back on the ASV's astrophotography Facebook page. Sam (the photographer) had posted it because of the nice placement of the meteor, and was very modest about the rest of the shot.

I was less focused on the meteor and more on the rest. After all, it's the South Celestial Pole, which isn't really photographed much.

Why is it that the polar area isn't commonly photographed? To be honest, I'm really not sure, but two reasons come to mind.

First, lots of people think it's a bit of a dead zone. And they've got a bit of a point. You can see straight away that the big area between The Emu (that's the Milky Way through the Cross and Carina) and the two Magellanic Clouds is pretty empty.

The second reason is a bit technical. "Plate solvers", those clever computer programs that read stars and compare them to a database to determine where the telescope is pointing, have a bit more trouble in the polar area. This, and the lack of stand-out features in the area, mean that many people just don't bother.

Sam certainly did bother though, and got a great result. To get this photo, he used a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro 2i as a tracker. On top of this, he used a Canon 80D DSLR at ISO3200 with a Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 lens set at 18mm. This is a single 60 second exposure.

One of the things that impressed me about this photo was the lack of trailing in the corners. Sam has really nailed the polar alignment, which is a tricky thing to do, even with the Star Adventurer's polar scope. Sam tells me that on a good night he can get up to four minutes with a 300mm lens - that's awesome!

And just have a look at the photo. I've had a bit of a go at labelling some of the things in the field. I began with the stars, and then added the Magellanic Clouds, clusters and nebulas.

I've also circled the SCP as well as Sigma Octantis, the star you need to find in the polar scope in order to get the required alignment. Nail this, and you're in for a great shot!