Tracking the Milky Way

It really has been a trying year with lock downs and persistent cloudy weather, it has been very hard to maintain the connection I’m used to feeling with the night sky. September through to early November is usually my favourite time for taking Milky Way shots as it stretches out flat along the western horizon. This season I only managed a couple of nights out, however the quality of those nights has been a significant step up. A lot of this has come about through refining my acquisition process to include tracked shots of the Milky Way. A big part of this is the method I now use for polar alignment of my MSM star tracker, taking me no more than a few minutes. It is now barely any extra effort to take tracked exposures which has very significantly improved the quality of my images.

The Core Revisited

It was above one year ago that I did my first tracked close-up imaging of the milky way core. Using drift alignment I managed to achieve a pretty solid polar alignment using apps on my mobile phone. I’m still really happy with the image I was able to produce using my small Micro Four Third sensor Panasonic GX85 and Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens, however having just treated myself to the new Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Lens for Sony-E Mount I have certainly had my perception of what is possible shifted.

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Moon Glow

Had a near perfect alignment of the rising moon and the cathedral in the town where I live a few weeks ago and took my cameras out to a high point to see what I could capture. Had both my Panasonic GX85 with the Olympus 75-300mm @ 187mm (or 374mm Full Frame equivalent) and an Sony a7R with a Samyang 135mm set up using their internal intervalometer functions to capture the rise of the moon, and then again as I repositioned to get the moon transitioning behind the steeple of an old school building. I also had my Sony a7S III with me, so while these shots where being taken I took the opportunity to test a Picture Profile I had setup in my a7S III for use with low light video. Think it might be ok for urban environments, verdict is still out for use when away from all sources of ambient light. Anyway, not much in the way of a plan with this video, was quite happy with the way it came together.