Breaker Bay Aurora Australis

Over the weekend of the 22nd/23rd April 2017 there was heightened Aurora activity and Wellington was treated to two nights of Aurora Australis displays. I was working Saturday night so couldn’t get out and had to make do with watching the excited reports appearing in the Wellington Aurora Hunters and Aurora Australis Facebook groups. On Sunday night I was able to get out and found my way to the Wellington south coast to find that apparently half of the population of Wellington had also thought the same. Turns out that the chance of seeing the Aurora had been mentioned online and on the evening news and this information quickly spread via social media leading to unusual crowds. After nearly getting stuck in gridlock at the Red Rocks Reserve carpark I drove east along the coast road and eventually found a quiet spot above Breaker Bay to take some photos.

Even above Breaker Bay I wasn’t alone with three University Students joining me to sit and watch the horizon. Ferries entering and leaving Wellington Harbour and aircraft flying in to Wellington Airport ruined any real chance of seeing the Aurora by eye and it didn’t help that I’d arrived and started shooting as the display was peaking but the camera captured some good images. I got enough photos for a short timelapse movie and I finally figured out how to use Lightroom to put the video together (using the tutorial here).

Canon 5D Mark IV, Samyang 14mm @ f2.8, ISO 3200 / 25 seconds (first 12 frames) & ISO 6400 / 13 seconds (the rest)

Something learned regarding Jupiter

There is currently a near conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter visible in the evening sky. I found out today via the Aotearoa Astrophotography facebook group that the four largest moons of Jupiter are visible via photography with a telephoto lens. So naturally I had to try take a photo when I got home.

Venus to the left, Jupiter to the right

Venus to the left, Jupiter to the right

The above is a crop but the moons are visible and I move one step closer to wanting a telescope (one day I’ll win 23 million and be able to afford all the toys). I was able to photograph the planets from home and turning to the east the moon was rising in the sky so I grabbed a shot of that as well. Again this is a big crop but I like the detail that is visible.

The moon

The moon

Last week was a busy aurora period and I got out one night to try for some colour in the sky. I tried a new location walking the hills above Breaker Bay and the visible moon cast enough light to clearly show the landscape in my photos. The moon also meant the aurora had to fight the moonlight but the combination of clouds, aurora and landscape made for some interesting photos.

A small aurora from Breaker bay

A small aurora from Breaker bay

The moon and a passing rain cloud also brought about a phenomenon I hadn’t seen previously, a moonbow. As the moon isn’t nearly as bright as the sun the resultant lunar rainbow is a lot fainter and to the eye it was just a faint white arch. If I’d known more about the phenomenon I’d have tried a longer exposure to get the colours to come out, something for next time.

A moonbow

A moonbow

Lastly we have a photo also from last week taken from Baxter Knob, a small hill near home. The sunsets recently have been spectacular and the dusk skies full of rich colours so I tied to capture some of that colour. So this is the view over Porirua Harbour towards Mana Island.

Looking west from Baxters Knob

Looking west from Baxters Knob