This image is available in Portrait (P) or Landscape (L)
A 100 degree, wide field of view image of the Milky Way and minor, yet beautiful pink aurora activity on the right. The single photo was taken at 23:00 on the 27/12/2014 facing south from a dairy farm near Deloraine, Tasmania. A quarter moon was setting to the right of the image and this has thrown beautiful long shadows across the paddocks and illuminates the Great Western Tiers Mountain range. A classic paddock fence disappears into the distance, giving the image perspective.
Auroras arise from the solar winds energized 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 diagonally towards top left. The brightest stars above the centre of the mountain range are the pointers, which lead to the Southern Cross (Crux). The dark region of the Coal Sack can be seen in between. Above and to the left of Crux the bright Eta Carinae nebulae can be picked out. The two ‘smudges’ of light near the top of the image 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.