astrophotography

Wednesday 26th May 2021 would be the first lunar eclipse in three years, although it was only barely total, with the Moon completely inside Earth's shadow for just 14 minutes or so. But as usual, I would bite off more than I could likely chew.

Composite image with Moon correctly positioned relative to Earth's shadow

29
Nov

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Review

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i is an updated version of the original Star Adventurer tracking mount. It brings the App based control of the Star Adventurer Mini (SAM) to its slightly larger brother. Refer also to my previous reviews of the Star Adventurer and the SAM as both are still highly relevant.

21
Jun

Southern Cross and 'The Pointers'

Although I already have an automated observatory for deep sky imaging, with some time and inspiration in isolation in early 2020, I setup my smaller equatorial mount in my 'darky sky' backyard for some widefield imaging with a QHY367C CMOS camera and a Canon 85mm lens, to capture this stunninng view of this region of sky, inspired as I have been for the last 25+ years by Akira Fujii's own famous image of this iconic constellation. In total, I captured 20 hours of exposure across three panes of the mosaic, including additional frames to capture the red nebula through a hydrogen-alpha filter and multiple layers of blurred stars through soft effect filters.

Southern Cross and 'The Pointers', captured by Phil Hart in April/May 2020
QHY367C camera and Canon 85mm lens at f5.6, 20 hours total exposure

Eclipsed! is my first significant solo exhibition, which features images from five of my local eclipse chasing efforts and large format prints of the stunning results I captured at the Great American Eclipse in August 2017. Head along to Bibo Cafe in Ballarat for a look, and be sure to tell them I sent you! Below are links to more details and the story behind each image. This exhibition was also awarded the Biennale Open Program Judge's Prize

Great American Eclipse from Idaho and the Tetons

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.

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.

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.

01
Jan

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

What a ripper of a comet! Another Christmas special discovered by Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy. In the days after Christmas I enjoyed a several late nights photographing this comet and its beautiful tail. So much fun but so much data my computer was grinding to a halt!

29th December

2014-12-29 1450 UTTakahashi Epsilon 160 530mm f3.3CDS-5D (Central DS modified Canon 5D Mark III)A sequence of five exposures of 2 mins each at ISO2500 was used to create this image, using Adobe Lightroom, After Effects and PixInsight. 2014-12-29 1450 UT Click to view larger size on SmugMug

I've used a few modified Canon DSLR cameras over the years for my astrophotography, including an Astro40D from Central DS which I used for many years of widefield astrophotography including one of my favourite ever images of the Southern Cross region.

With a new home (at least part-time) under dark skies I decided it was time for an upgrade and took the plunge with the CDS-5D (see disclosure below). This is my review of the camera, which will be updated with more tests and images.


CDS-5D with Pentax 300mm lens
Single 5 minute sub-exposure, f5.6, ISO800

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