Sagittarius and Scorpius shine above the pines and sagebrush of the summit of Mount Kobau, BC.
I’m still working through images I took last week at the Mt. Kobau Star Party. This one looks south toward Washington state amid some smoky air, toward the centre of the Galaxy.
Note the dark lanes in the Milky Way, particularly the prancing “Dark Horse.”
I shot this image the first night I was on the mountain, using a new Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer tracking system.
The image is a stack of five 5-minute tracked exposures with a 24mm lens. The ground is from just one of the exposures to minimize blurring of the ground from the moving camera.
It nicely captures both the sagebrush and the stars of the Milky Way, a quintessential Kobau sky scene.
– Alan, August 5, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer
There’s no more spectacular region of the sky than the Milky Way toward the centre of the Galaxy.
What a perfect night it was last night. After moonset between 2 and 3:30 a.m. I shot a series of images around the centre of the Galaxy area and stitched them into a big mosaic of the Milky Way.
The scene takes in the Milky Way from the Eagle and Swan nebulas at top left, down to the Messier 6 and 7 open clusters in Scorpius at bottom. Standing out is the large pink Lagoon Nebula left of centre and the huge region of dark dusty nebulosity popularly called the Dark Horse at right of centre. It’s made of smaller dark nebulas such as the Pipe Nebula and tiny Snake Nebula.
At upper left is the bright Small Sagittarius Starcloud, aka Messier 24, flanked by the open clusters M23 and M25. There are a dozen or more Messier objects in this region of sky.
The actual centre of the Milky Way is obscured by dark dust but lies in the direction just below the centre of the frame, amid one of the bright star clouds that mark this amazing region of sky.
I shot the images for this mosaic from a site near Portal, Arizona, using a 135mm telephoto lens and filter-modified Canon 5D Mark II riding on an iOptron SkyTracker to follow the stars. The mosaic is made of 6 panels, each a stack of five 3-minute exposures. They were all stacked and stitched in Photoshop CC. The full version is 8000 by 9000 pixels and is packed with detail.
I think the result is one of the best astrophotos I’ve taken! It sure helps to have Arizona skies!
– Alan, May 5, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer
The centre of the Galaxy culminates over a starlit landscape on a night near the summer solstice.
This was last weekend, on the same night I took the images of the aurora and noctilucent clouds featured in the previous two blog posts. But toward the end of the shoot, I turned south to capture this scene, of the Milky Way over a grassy prairie field.
The landscape is lit only by starlight and by the glow of twilight and aurora to the north.
In the sky, the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius are peaking as high as they get for me in southern Alberta. The red giant star Antares is to the right while the bright star clouds toward the centre of our Galaxy are just left of centre. The sky is not dark because of the glow of perpetual twilight at this time of year near solstice.
Deep sky fans will note that the star cluster M7, the southernmost Messier object, is just clearing the horizon.
Remarkably, this is a mere 15 second exposure, at ISO 1600 but with the 24mm lens wide open at f/1.4. Normally I wouldn’t shoot at that wide an aperture as the images look too distorted at the corners of the frame. But for this shot I used the Canon 60Da camera – its cropped-frame sensor records only the central area of what the lens projects so it crops out the nasty stuff at the corners of the frame that would certainly have been detracting had I used the full-frame camera.
But shooting at f/1.4 allowed even this quickie 15-second shot to grab lots of detail in the Milky Way.
– Alan, June 14, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer
Scorpius and the star clouds of the Milky Way skim along the southern horizon on the western Canadian prairie.
Scorpius crawls along the horizon at right, with dark lanes of dust converging onto yellowish Antares. Just left of centre a dark horse prances above the treetops. At lower left shines the pink Lagoon Nebula.
With its intricate mix of dark dust lanes and bright star clouds this is the richest region of the Milky Way. It marks the direction toward the centre of our Galaxy. Pity it lies so low in our sky from here in western Canada, at a latitude of 50° North. Compare this view to what I saw two months ago from New Mexico and you can see the advantage of a southerly latitude for any lovers of the Milky Way.
However, I was lucky to get this shot, taken last weekend during the only decent time of the year when I can see Scorpius in a dark sky from my prairie home. The night was very clear, allowing a clean shot to the southern horizon.
– Alan, May 9, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer
This is the view from early this morning as the centre of the Milky Way rises above the desert landscape of New Mexico.
Sagittarius (at centre) and Scorpius (at right) contain the rich starfields of the galactic core. To the eye this scene looks as if bright clouds are moving in to hide the stars, but in fact the glows are stars – clouds of stars forming the glowing bulge of the galactic core. Superimposed on the glowing core are lanes of dark interstellar dust, such as the silhouette of the Dark Horse prancing at centre, with lanes of dust flowing across the sky and converging onto yellow Antares, the heart of Scorpius right of centre.
I shot this before dawn this morning, March 12, from our site in southwest New Mexico. Skies were perfect.
This is a stack of five 5-minute exposures with the 24mm lens at f/2.8. A sixth exposure taken through a diffusion filter added the star glows to accentuate the bright stars and their colours. The foreground is from one exposure and has been processed to bring out the details, here lit only by starlight.
– Alan, March 12, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer