Listening to Pulsars: The CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope


Listening to Pulsars: The CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

I was in Parkes, NSW in July for the Central West Astronomical Society's Astrofest and the David Malin Awards, of which I was fortunate to pick up a couple. No trip to Parkes is complete without some night sky photography out at 'The Dish' so Greg Gibbs and I met up out there on the Friday a little before sunset. We enjoyed only drab grey conditions (even some rain) until after sunset but then a short-lived sucker hole allowed us just a few minutes, before we gave up and headed back into town. After dinner I noticed the sky was clear, and despite little certainty of it staying that way I headed back out and was rewarded with a couple of hours of lovely clear sky.

The Australian CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope listening for pulsars in the Milky Way, 12th July 2013.

This image is a four frame vertical panorama with a Canon 6D and 24mm lens, each frame 30 seconds, f2.8 using a low ISO setting (400) to maximise dynamic range and maintain some detail in the highlights around the base of the dish. The CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope is one of the world's premier single dish radio telescopes and one of Australia's most significant scientific research facilities. Thanks to the CSIRO's John Sarkissian and the rest of the Central West Astronomical Society for their ongoing efforts with the CWAS Astrofest and the David Malin Awards. There's some truly impressive radio astronomy and other presentations on every year - well worth the trip up the road from Melbourne!


How did you get enough light to expose the stars so well at
ISO 400?

John.. the same amount of light enters the camera at ISO400 as at a higher ISO. In this case I amplified the image in software rather than in camera with a higher ISO. Software amplification gives me more control to protect the highlights while I'm doing that. I talk more about that in my eBook Shooting Stars.