Phil's blog

01
Feb

Mount Greenoch Lunar Eclipse

The tonne of astrophotography equipment that I hauled to Idaho and back for the total solar eclipse in August had remained in the shed until the week before this lunar eclipse, and most of it till eclipse day itself. With summer at Camp Cooinda and a job that doesn't shut down over the holiday period either it was time to dust things off, put them back together and hastily remember how to use them. A sensible approach would be to focus on just one or two cameras, but as usual I couldn't resist putting all my cameras into service and aiming for one of everything.. widefield, timelapse, composite, tele-photo and telescopic images of the eclipse.

After the solar eclipse in Idaho, I couldn't resist continuing my 'long-service leave' and returning to Canada's Yukon Territory for some early season aurora hunting in September 2017. I had just two and half weeks (one New Moon cycle), based with my friends and supporters Andrea and Florian Lemphers at Shallow Bay, north of the capital Whitehorse. I had with me a Canon 5D Mark IV and a pair of Canon 6D Mark II cameras (one on loan from Canon Australia). Clear skies were always going to be the biggest challenge, especially during the fall, but I hit four clear nights in a row from the start so luck seemed to be on my side. I also managed to peg some beautiful cold clear nights and sweet aurora activity at clutch locations I explored along the way; my favourites being North Canol Road and Tombstone Park on the Dempster Highway.

23
Aug

Idaho Solar Eclipse

This page will evolve.. hopefully rapidly.

 

Sun Dragon

Together with Brad LeBrocque (who hooked me into this gig), Glenn Tamblingson and Dean Martin's UDesign Tour Group, I observed the 'Great American Eclipse' from South Menan Butte in Idaho. Here's the rundown.

Following my review of the Star Adventurer, Skywatcher have now introduced a "mini" version of their astrophotography and timelapse platform in a smaller and app controlled version. This review describes my first month using 'SAM', which proves to be very easy to learn and use. Control via the Skywatcher app is intuitive and effective, the mount itself is very compact and it delivers impressive tracking performance for its size. In short there's a lot to like. Read the full review below.

18
Aug

Planets align over Snowy Mountains

The evening 'highlight' of six days back country skiing in NSW with Tim and Eric was the planetary alignment of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter in the evening sky. I had only a compact Canon Powershot G1X Mark II with me and it took a few nights to get the weather and scenery to cooperate but after an hour of trapsing around and lying down in the snow and wind I managed to capture this shot on our last night out.

Planets align over Snowy Mountains

Planets align over snowy mountains under moonlight (from bottom Venus, Mercury, Jupiter)
Canon Powershot G1X Mark II, Panorama 2 x 10 secs, f3.5, ISO400

First light with my observatory just barely functioning in April 2016.

Rival to Mars
Mars and its Rival Antares and the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex
CDS-5D, Canon 200mm lens, 110 * 2mins , ISO800.

07
Apr

Skywatcher Star Adventurer: Review

Skywatcher were not the first to offer portable tracking mounts but the Star Adventurer unit is a very capable and complete package. It is heavier but also has a more substantial payload than the competing options and it did feel much more comfortable supporting my full frame Canon camera and 200mm lens. Once you go beyond wide angle lenses, tracking accuracy still limits you to quite short exposures but a lot can be achieved with this portable 'track and stack' approach. The combination of flexible tracking rates, quality built-in polar scope and latitude base plus the suitability for timelapse should make this quite an attractive option.

26
Jan

Another Year at Mount Glasgow

This will make more sense if you have previously read about our first year at Mount Glasgow. 2015 was more settled and sensible for Kaz and I but we still kept pretty busy!

26
Sep

What the Aurora Really Looks Like

Inspired by Harald Moltke - Painter of the Aurora

There are two key messages about what you see in this video:

  • All of the digital imagery is animated and displayed in real-time.
  • Colours have been de-saturated to match the visual appearance.

It's no surprise that seeing the aurora is on many people's 'bucket list'. But with the proliferation of digital images and timelapse videos of the aurora, those same people may travel with unrealistic expectations of what they will see with their own eyes.

10
Mar

Shooting Stars Camera Models

My Shooting Stars eBook will help you with great information about using any digital SLR for night sky photography. In particular, the field guide includes information on where to find the ten most common night sky photography settings on the dials and menus of all of these DSLR camera models:

Canon:

  • 700D/Rebel T5i, 650D/Rebel T4i, 600D/Rebel T3i, 550D, 500D, 450D
  • 1200D/Rebel T5, 1100D/Rebel T3, 1000D/Rebel XS
  • 70D, 60D, 50D, 40D, 30D, 20D
  • 6D, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, 5D, 7D Mark II, 7D
  • 1DX, 1DC, 1Ds Mark III

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