At the beginning of January we went for a short weekend break to a place near lake Eildon in Victoria and the sky cleared one night for a change.
I wanted to test my new Orion Teletrack motorised tripod head for panning horizontally with the speed of Earth rotation. I had a few technical glitches and the result is not quite what I had in mind but is nice nonetheless. The first part of the time lapse is illuminated by the gas torches around the farm house.
Recently I read about a new star party in the North West Victoria – the “Lake Tyrrel Star Party”. At the star party on Saturday there were great lectures about Mars by Dr Victor Gostin, “Aboriginal Skies” by Paul Curnow and the “Night Sky of the Boorong” by John Morieson.
Lake Tyrrel is a special place – the area was once home to Boorong people and the name “Tyrrel” is the Boorong word for sky and space. When there is water in the lake and the night is cloudless and still, the whole night sky can be seen reflected in the water.
The Boorong identified a significant number of stars and constellations. The constellations are based on both stars and dark patches in the sky, like “Bunya” the possum that sits on top of the tree (Southern Cross) or “Tchingal” – the giant emu that eats people (the bright band of central Milky Way represents the Emu’s body, and the Coal Sack dark nebula is the head with the beak).
The Boorong clan no longer exists as a separate entity, but their descendants live in north-west Victoria and throughout Victoria.
I found the good spot on the Eastern side of the lake where the water was shallow and recessed producing mirror-like surface. So I set up the camera on the tripod and went back to the star party at the lake viewing platform to share the views of the excellent dark sky through my telescope.
In Port Campbell National Park there are some gorgeous places I can’t wait to photograph under the night skies. There is one small problem, however… The Weather. This part of the coast appears to be one of the most wet cloudy and unpredictable places in Victoria.
We travelled with the family along the Great Ocean Road in April 2010 and the day after we came back I set up the weather page for a small town of Port Campbell as a home page in my web browser. The wait for a clear night around New Moon began…
Only in July 2010 the weather forecast looked half-decent so I hopped in the car and drove some 300kms only to find thick cloud all over the sky in the evening. But around 1am the clouds miraculously disappeared and I was rewarded with brilliant views of the Milky Way from Loch Ard Gorge lookout.
Being far away from man-made lights the place was very dark on a moonless night. The centre our Milky Way Galaxy is the most significant source of light which helped to created peculiar dark reflections on the water in the middle of the frame.
Our Sun begins to leave its solar minimum stage in its eleventh year of sun spot activity and is becoming more active. A reasonably strong coronal mass ejection was detected on August 1st, 2010 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
The size of the event had been grossly exaggerated by the media but I still hoped to image some weak Southern Lights and headed down to Cape Schanck as soon as heavy clouds went away. The slight pink glow visible in the image could just be a very weak Aurora.
Bright Venus produced a nice path of light on the water with Mars and Saturn nearby. The night was cold and humid but the camera kept clicking…
I was very lucky to receive a 2010 David Malin Award for an animated time-lapse sequence of a setting Milky Way. After a nine-hour drive we arrived to Parkes, NSW. The weather was nice and I used the opportunity to take some images of the famous Parkes Radio Telescope under the night sky.
The Dish is a very impressive structure - movable telescope spans over 64 metres in diameter and takes 15 minutes to make a 360 degrees turn. It is the second largest movable dish telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. During the Apollo missions to the moon, it was used to relay communication and telemetry signals to NASA, providing coverage for when the moon was on the Australian side of the Earth.
The radio telescope is commonly known as “The Dish” after being featured in the 2000 fiction film.
Standing under the dish made me feel very small indeed.
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