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Astrophotography

Posted by Liron on Thursday, October 22, 2015
As a very young boy, I always had an interest in astronomy. Around the age of 5 or 6 I began to take an interest in birds, and that interest has stayed with me every since. It wasn't until sometime towards the end of 2014 that i began to really gaze up at the sky with curiosity again.

Now I can't say I hadn't been amazed by space in those 7 or 8 years between age 5 or 6 and 14ish- in Costa Rica in 2013, a highlight of the trip was seeing the incredible night sky while in the Cerro De La Muerte region of the country, away from light pollution. See a pic here. I had no idea how to photograph the night sky then, and was much more focused on a Dusky Nightjar, a nocturnal bird species that we found that night.

Anyways, towards the end of 2014, my science teacher did a unit on Astronomy. Mr. Procyk is an incredible teacher, a recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. His passion lit a spark inside of me, and my fascination with the night sky returned.

In the beginning of 2015 I began to long to see the night sky away from light pollution. Here in Vancouver, you can see only the very brightest stars and planets in the sky each clear night. I would be going to southern California in March 2015, so I did research and came up with a plan to see and photograph the night sky. I would visit Joshua Tree National Park with my Dad at night, including the early morning hours in order to see the Milky Way (best time to view it in March).

This was the first time I had ever seen stars away from light pollution, and I was blown away.


Orion in the night sky, with a Joshua Tree
March 19 2015, 8:51 PM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 10 seconds | ISO 12800 | f/4.5

Orion


During that night in Joshua Tree National Park, I also took the opportunity to use my big lens to capture the Orion Nebula and Running Man Nebula.

Orion Nebula and Running Man Nebula
March 19 2015, 8:14 PM
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | 1 second | ISO 16,000 | f/5.6 | 97 image stack

Orion's Nebula and Running Man Nebula





Seeing the milky way for the first time was incredible. I'll never forget the experience!
March 20 2015, 4:57 AM
Canon EOS 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 13 seconds | ISO 12800 | f/3.5 | 5 image stack


Milky Way



Milky Way fading as dawn approaches
March 20 2015, 5:46 AM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 13 seconds | ISO 12800 | f/3.5

Milky Way at first light


After this night, I wouldn't see the Milky Way until a school trip brought me away from the city lights at at campground near Ashland, Oregon. It was awesome to see the Milky Way so well, and show it to my friends who had never seen such beautiful skies before. As it was a school trip I didn't have my 7D Mark II or a tripod with me, so I had to use my backup camera and rest the camera on a stable object to get photos of the sky.


Milky Way above Ashland
June 10 2015, 11:48 PM
Canon EOS 60D | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX lens @ 17mm | 15 seconds | ISO 4000 | f/3.5

Milky Way above Ashland, Oregon



On September 12-13 2015, I went on an overnight camping trip into Garibaldi Provincial Park with some friends. I brought my camera, as I knew there would be some night sky photography opportunities. As soon as it got dark we began to gaze at the incredible stars. The Milky Way was shining bright:

Milky Way in Garibaldi Provincial Park
September 12 2015, 9:51 PM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 15 seconds | ISO 10000 | f/3.5

Milky Way


I stayed up late that night and then went to bed, however I set my alarm for a couple hours later. I planned to wake up at 2:30 AM to check for the Northern Lights. As I got out of the tent in the early morning, I looked to the north. I noticed a whitish light on the northern horizon, but it was tough to tell what it was. I grabbed my camera to take a picture, and it gathered enough light to show that it was the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights!

Northern Lights in Garibaldi
September 13 2015, 2:55 AM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 25 seconds | ISO 10000 | f/3.5

Northern Lights


I also could see the constellation Orion, which I hadn't seen for a while

Orion
September 13 2015, 3:07 AM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 15 seconds | ISO 10000 | f/3.5

Orion

After this I got a couple more hours of sleep before getting up to photograph the sunrise.

It wasn't long after this camping trip that I had the opportunity to view a rare event in the night sky- a lunar eclipse, together with a supermoon - the largest and brightest full moon of the year.

I headed to Queen Elizabeth Park to photograph the event. About 1,500 other people also had the same idea! It was a fun evening watching the moon rise and the eclipse peak, then watching the earth's shadow sweep back over the moon.

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse
September 27 2015, 8:28 PM
Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM + 1.4x III (560mm) | 0.6 seconds | ISO 2000 | f/8

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse


Supermoon Lunar Eclipse
September 27 2015, 8:38 PM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 28mm | 5 seconds | ISO 640 | f/3.5 +  second exposure for the moon, similar to above exposure

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse


The most recent time I've found myself far enough from the city to see a pretty good night sky was in early October on a school trip to the Sunshine Coast, BC. This picture I took looking straight up.

Milky Way
October 5 2015, 9:54 PM
Canon 7D Mark II | Tokina 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 AT-X DX @ 17mm | 15 seconds | ISO 16000 | f/3.5

Stars


That wraps up this post! My goals for astrophotography in the future include seeing the Northern Lights dancing directly overhead, in the far north. That would be incredible!

I the meantime, birding is going great, and is still my biggest passion. I just hit my BC year list goal of 305 species, which feels great!

Thanks for looking!



 

 

 

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