A 100 degree, wide field of view image of the Milky Way and beautiful pink aurora activity. The single photo was taken at 01:10 on 24/12/2014, facing south from a dairy farm at Chudleigh, near Deloraine, Tasmania
The 30-second exposure is taken at a higher ISO than my other nightscape images to capture the Aurora activity rising above the Great Western Tiers mountain range to the south. Auroras arise from the solar winds energised particles exciting the atmospheres oxygen and nitrogen molecules. These energized molecules then release this energy as light.
A strong aurora is green, which is the most common colour, although it may rarely have red or pink fringes. Sometimes a weaker aurora at a distance will have a pink colour as it is a mix of the rare red aurora light from energized oxygen at a higher altitude and less bright than normal green light from oxygen at a lower altitude. It is much harder to capture due to its lower luminosity and on the night of the photo it could be seen with the naked eye as a grey glow above the mountains.
The Milky Way stretches vertically with a huge gum tree reaching up towards it. The brightest two stars above the central smaller trees are the pointers. These stars lead to the Southern Cross (Crux) with the dark region of the Coal Sack in between. Above Crux the bright Eta Carinae nebulae can be picked out, with the pendant star cluster to its right. The two ‘smudges’ of light top right are our neighboring galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic clouds.
I always aim to balance the exposure and gentle processing to try to maintain the relative brightness of stars and their natural colours when possible rather than over saturating the Milky Way, which can look unnatural.
A single 30-sec exposure, ISO6400, F2.8.
Canon 6D. Nikon 14-24mm at 14mm. Standard tripod. Shutter release.
Adobe Lightroom 5. Topaz Denoise.