Recently I was involved in a very exciting project – a film crew from Japan invited me to participate in filming a documentary about Lake Tekapo starlight reserve in New Zealand.
Luckily, two nights on South Island were clear and I got some nice footage.
The satellite weather image started to look promising around 8pm on the last Monday in January 2011 and I made a snap decision to go my favourite spot in Flinders to do a panning time lapse as well as some observing with my telescope. After 1.5-hour drive, I set up the camera to continuously take an image every 30 seconds and enjoyed a long deep sky observing session. The highlight of the night were spectacular galaxies near Large Magellanic Cloud (in southern constellations Dorado and Volans).
I also noticed quite a few meteors in the southern sky and remembered Alpha Crucids meteor shower was around this time of the year. It is named after the brightest star in Southern Cross constellation (Crux). I looked it up and it is active in the second half of January. Below is one of the brighter meteors I was lucky to capture on camera (in the upper left part of the frame).
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.