The Taralga Wind Farm in New South Wales, Australia, is a 51-turbine installation that can power around 45,000 average Australian homes per year. I chose the site as the foreground for a Milky Way panorama that I photographed between 1:00 & 2:00 am on Saturday 3rd of August. Like the title says, this image includes five galaxies, all visible to the naked eye, and I have also noted some other objects that were visible on the night.
The five galaxies you can see in the photo are 1. The Large Magellanic Cloud, 2. The Small Magellanic Cloud, 3. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, 4. The Andromeda Galaxy, aka M31, and 5. The Triangulum Galaxy, M33. I admit that the fourth and fifth of those are hard to see, but they’re there in the photo, and I could see them even with my 55-year-old eyes. Also noted in the picture is the globular cluster Omega Centauri, as well as the planets Jupiter and Saturn. The photo doesn’t show how cold it was on this night, but this was the first time I’ve seen a 0-degree Celsius reading on my car’s thermometer.
I shot each of the 17 photos that make up the panorama using a Canon EOS 6D camera, a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.4, with an exposure time of 15 seconds @ ISO 6400.
The tide was just past its peak when I was shooting this scene on a Friday night back in August of 2016. The water was flowing–ever so slowly–down the Shoalhaven River to make its way to the South Pacific Ocean, around 25km away. Despite the movement of the water, the lack of breeze made the river’s surface into an almost perfect mirror. Up at the top left-hand corner you can see the Small Magellanic Cloud, which is a companion galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. The colourful arch of stars, dust and gas that stretches almost right across the image is that same Milky Way galaxy and its “galactic core” region. The planets Mars and Saturn were close to one another in the sky back in August and you can see the two of them, along with the supergiant star Antares, glowing orange just over the tree line near the middle of the shot. All of these celestial wonders were also reflecting off the surface of the river, with a surprising amount of the Milky Way’s structure visible in the mirror image. Spilling red light all over the rocks at right is the tiny LED pilot light in a battery that powers the dew heater keeping my camera lens warm and free from fogging. This single image was created by shooting 33 overlapping images, in three rows of eleven shots, then stitching the images together in the application “AutoPano Pro”. Each photo was shot with Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 24mm lens @ f/2.8, 15 sec @ ISO 6400.
From tree to tank
Like the arc of water flowing from an ornamental fountain, the grand arch of the Milky Way in this piece seems to be emanating from the tree at left and spraying up across the sky before being caught in the water tank on the right. The lush fields and hills in this valley west of Katoomba, Australia, show a different shade of green to that of the atmospheric airglow that’s so prominent near the horizon from the left edge of the shot almost across to the centre. Morphing into a more bluish colour by the top of the image, the sky was very clear and still on this night in late July.
Again on the left of the shot the beautiful and enchanting wisps of the Magellanic Cloud galaxies are like ladies-in-waiting for their queen, the Milky Way as she dominates the night. Behind the water tank, off in the distance, the glow from the lights of the city of Lithgow burn into the darkness.
This is a stitched panorama, made up from 65 original images and coming in at almost 1.9GB for the full-res image. Each frame was shot with Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 24mm @ f/2.4, 15 sec @ ISO 6400.
Tallowa Dam, in the Kangaroo Valley (Australia), is one a the growing number of locations that I didn’t plan to visit when setting out from home to go nightscape shooting. My original destination was North Nowra, where the Milky Way setting in the west had been so well reflected by the Shoalhaven River just a week earlier. However due to the high winds at that spot on this night I needed to find somewhere sheltered and figured that a spot at the bottom of a valley would do until I went home.
I’ve already posted a time-lapse video and a few other shots from this same location so I apologise for any sense of déjà vu I might have invoked as you looked at tonight’s post. There is a viewing area for the dam that is out of shot to the left and it’s very brightly lit all through the night. The spill from those lights is what has lit up the hills over the other side of the water. I used a hand-held LED light bank to show the foreground but my inconsistent light painting has resulted in grass that’s several shades of yellow and green. My favourite heavenly sight, the band of the Milky Way’s galactic core region, is reigning over the hills and is showing a lot of detail in the strands of interstellar dust. The row of yellow lights on the water’s surface serve as a warning to kayakers, hopefully to keep them from going over the dam’s spillway.
This is a cropped version of a much wider panorama that was created from 18 single frames, each shot with Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 24mm @ f/2.4, 15 sec @ ISO 6400.
Another year is almost over, with November’s first week just about gone. We’re into another lunar cycle now and the moon is already making it difficult to get decent shots of the Milky Way’s core as it slips towards the western horizon here in Australia. I shot this panorama of the Milky Way in the west back on October 24th before the moon started its shenanigans. The panorama is made up from ten single photos that were stitched together using the Autopano Pro app.
On the left you can see the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds as they circle the south celestial pole. Venus is just above the horizon a small way to the right of the centre of the photo, with Saturn above and to the right of that. Mars is up above the stretch of the Milky Way. The city of Nowra is responsible for the bright yellow lights on the horizon at the left of centre.
Shot with Canon EOS 6D, Samyang 14mm @ f/4.0, 20 sec @ ISO 6400.
Broughton Creek, Australia. I can't get enough of photographing the Milky Way in different settings. Having water in the foreground adds extra interest, I find.
This panoramic image is made up from 16 smaller frames, stitched together with the application AutoPano Pro. 16 images, each shot with Canon EOS 6D, Samyang 14mm @ f/4.0, 20 sec @ ISO 6400.
Ruins under the arch
The old silo ruins next to the Princes Highway at Coila, on Australia’s southeast coast, stand firm as the dome of the night sky moves overhead. Peeking out from behind a tree at left the Large Magellanic cloud, a companion galaxy of our Milky Way, is at the bottom of its circuit of the south celestial pole. The Small Magellanic Cloud is higher up above it and just above that is the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, looking like a large star here.
Just over the top of the silo are two similarly bright objects, the supergiant star Antares to the left and the planet Saturn almost dead-centre of the tower. The Galactic Kiwi is presiding over the scene higher up over the tower, under the wings of the Milky Way with its swirls and filaments of interstellar dust. The purplish colour of the sky is due to a high moisture content in the air. I’m still learning the art of foreground lighting as evidenced by the patches of light and dark in the grassy expanse between the camera and the silo.
This is a stitched panorama created from 68 individual photos, each shot with Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 24mm @ f/2.8, 15 sec @ ISO 6400.