Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A couple of shots of the Southern Cross from Beechworth

Before we went to Victoria a couple of weeks ago I'd been reading Ian Musgrave's Astroblog and he'd written a post about using The Gimp for astrophotography. The Gimp, or Gimp 2, is a free open source Photoshop. It does almost everything Photoshop does but it is free. I've been using Gimp for a while - it was my photo editor of choice for use on my little EeePC for our recent trip to Japan. Using a digital camera you can take multiple exposures of the sky and then stack them in Gimp to create a fairly decent astrophotograph. The stars are quite a bit brighter when stacked.

So armed with my trusty Lumix Lx3 and Gorilla Pod mini tripod I spent an hour or so on a freezing Beechworth night snapping the Milky Way.

For the images below I stacked 3 individual photos. Each of the exposure was around 30 to 40 seconds. As you can see there are some star trails around the edges of the photos. The sky rotates fast enough that a 30 or 40 second exposure creates quite a trail. Next time I'll do what Ian suggested and take a few more photos but limit the exposure to about 8 seconds.

But as a first attempt I'm pretty pleased. By the way the main constellation in both photos is the Southern Cross.

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