Under the African night sky


It was the first day of September 2008. After  the sunset the the hot day was cooling down at the bank of Orange River. The night was falling in Sendelingsdrif Rest Camp at |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in South Africa.

The sky was gradually filling up with myriads of celestial objects, first the moon, then some planets and the brightest stars and finally the Milky Way in its glory.

I had very little experience about photographing the night sky, but luckily I had a friend and fellow photographer Paul with me. He gave me the first hints, and guided me to this thrilling field of photography.

I processed some of the shots soon after returning back to home from Africa. I did not do much with those then because I was somewhat dissatisfied not being able to name even some of the brightest objects of the sky. Yesterday I got some extra help for that. I installed Redshift astronomy software into my iPad, and I could return in time back to the moment I took the pictures and identify the planets and stars.

For an experienced star shooter my pictures are quite noisy, but I am happy with these.🙂 All pictures taken with Canon 40D and EF 10-22@10mm, EXIF in the captions. (Click the picture to see them larger.)

Our chalet below looks like having a fire inside.

Our chalet under the night sky. (80 sec, f/5,6, ISO1000)

Our chalet under the night sky. (80 sec, f/5,6, ISO1000)

Paul is taking his long-exposure shots. I used flashlight to make him visible in the picture (and ruining one of his pictures ;)).

Paul with his shooting gear. (30 sec, f/4,0, ISO1600)

Paul with his shooting gear. (30 sec, f/4,0, ISO1600)

Jupiter, M7 and Milky Way, 2 Sep 2008 at 21:01, straight to the zenith in Sendelingsdrif. (Screen capture from Redshift software.)

Jupiter, M7 and Milky Way, 2 Sep 2008 at 21:01, straight to the zenith in Sendelingsdrif. (Screen capture from Redshift software.)

The sky above us was filled with stars and the bright belt of Milky Way.

Jupiter is in the middle of the picture. It is the fifth from the sun and the largest of all the planets.

Slighty above that is the star cluster Messier 7 (or M7), known already by antique astronomers.

(Click the Redshift screen capture on the right to see the identification.)

Jupiter in the middle, Messier 7 (or M7) and Milky Way - see also the Redshift screen capture. (30 sec, f/4,0, ISO1600)

Jupiter in the middle, Messier 7 (or M7) and Milky Way – see also the Redshift screen capture. (30 sec, f/4,0, ISO1600)

The moon; planets Venus, Mercury and Mars; stars Zavijah, Zaniah and Porrima, 1 Sep 2008 at 19:34, Western sky above horizon in Sendelingdrif. (Screen capture from Redshift software.)

The Moon; planets Venus, Mercury and Mars; stars Zavijah, Zaniah and Porrima, 1 Sep 2008 at 19:34, Western sky above horizon in Sendelingdrif. (Screen capture from Redshift software.)

When I took the pictures, I did not realize we could really see three planets and the Moon in so close group. It was only a day or two after new Moon (see the bright but thin “belt” below the Moon), so it was not preventing us to see the planets close to it.

Venus is the second planet from the Sun, and the second brightest object in the sky, after the Moon.

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, and the smallest also.

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, covered by iron oxide dust making it look red in the continuous duststorms.

(Click the Redshift screen capture on the right to see the indentification.)

20080901-IMG_9180

I have to finnish this post with a star trail picture. This is showing the movement of the stars due to the Earths rotation during about one hour time.

Star trails 2 Sep 2008 in Sendelingsdrif at 9pm (50.6 min, f/6,0, ISO400)

Star trails 2 Sep 2008 in Sendelingsdrif at about 9pm (50.6 min, f/6,0, ISO400)

About Olli Laasanen

Eyes and ears open. New and old. Jobs and hobbies. Pictures and music. Entertaining and serious. Change and stability. Nature and urban.
This entry was posted in Country, Nature, Photo, photography, South Africa, Travel, Valokuvaus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Under the African night sky

  1. Hauntingly beautiful! I miss the African night sky. The best I have seen was in the Okavango Delta in Northern Botswana, but the Kenyan and Tanzanian night skies have not let me down either…

  2. rigbyte says:

    How wonderful – such clarity, such excellent photography, and the explanatory notes so useful. Thanks.

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