Sirius and Canopus in the night sky

Sirius and Canopus in the night sky

I captured this astrophotograph near Point View Breaker Bay. Taken at about 10pm at night in early December. With some clouds in the sky, I’d wondered if the camera would capture any stars. With a 15 second long exposure time, the camera captured thousands of stars I couldn’t see with my eyes. The bright star on the left is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. The one in the upper middle is Canopus, the second brightest.

Milky Way from Haldane Bay

Milky Way from Haldane Bay

Camping at Haldane Bay, east of Slope Point I was lucky enough to be treated to a clear night sky. After a couple of cloudy nights, this was a real treat. Especially as it was my first astrophotography shot with a new camera and lens. Antares is the bright star at the top of the Milky Way. I had assumed that the bright light reflecting on the bay was Mars but my friend James informs me this is Jupiter. The camera settings were a 30-second exposure on a 14mm f/2.8 lens at ISO 6400 on the Sony A7iii camera.

Magellanic clouds

Magellanic clouds

Cities aren’t usually the best place to clearly see the stars of the night sky due to the light pollution. As far as capital cities go, Wellington, New Zealand is one of the clearest in the world. For this photograph, we still drove about an hour out of the city centre into the hills of Pakuratahi Forest. There was no moon so it was incredibly dark. I know next to nothing about the stars. Fortunately my friend James does. He informs me we are looking at two Magellanic clouds in the Large (LMC) and the small (SMC). They are dwarf galaxies outside the Milky Way. 150,000 light years away. You can’t see them from the northern hemisphere.

Aurora from Wellington

Aurora from Wellington

Astrophotography is something I have been trying more in the last couple of years. I’ve always wanted to capture the northern lights or aurora. When I was in Iceland I looked for them but didn’t see them. This year a friend asked if I wanted to go out looking for them in Wellington. I’d seen photographs taken in the South Island but rarely here in New Zealand’s capital. Known as Aurora Australis or Aurora Borealis it’s one of the hardest things I’ve photographed. Even though we knew there was a solar storm and it was a moonless night, we couldn’t see them with our eyes. Only through the long exposure of the camera could we start to see the light display.