Deep Sky

Images of astronomical objects without any landscape element. Deep sky photography traditionally takes a lot more time, patience, precision and reliance on perfect weather than landscape astrophotography. Long exposures of several minutes and tens of individual frames are often used to reduce the image noise created during such exposures. In total a final image can be hours of data. A guiding camera often needs to be used also to send precision corrections to the mount and ensure it keeps the stars locked in position within the frame.

All of these images were created using a mount belonging to Earth and Sky Ltd on Earth and Sky property unless otherwise stated.

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Tarantula - The Tarantula Nebula is one of my favourite deep sky objects. Not just for its intricate beauty, but the sheer vastness of its scale and complexity. It is on the outskirts of The Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy bound to The Milky Way. Being able to see a nebula in another galaxy with cheap binoculars is pretty amazing and hints at its size. Estimated to be 700-800 light years across, it is the most active star forming region in the local group of galaxies and contains many of the most massive stars known. So vast and furiously active that stars are being born and dying within it. It is the location of Supernova 1987A, the closest supernova witnessed since the invention of the telescope.


The tarantula nebula is the brightest cloudy region to the right of centre.

Camera - Nikon D810A
Telescope - Vixen 115S
Mount - Losmandy Gemini
Processed in Pixinsight

Jewels of the Southern Sky - The Southern regions of The Milky Way containing famous constellations and objects such as the Southern Cross (Lower left of centre) , Pointer Stars ( Lower Right - Alpha Centauri far right is the closest star to our own) , The Carina Nebula glowing pink in the upper left, The Running Chicken Nebula left of centre, the dark Coalsack Nebula near the centre and many famous clusters such as The Jewel Box and Wishing Well.


Taken over 3-4 nights within two weeks, this image is a stack of over 40 individual frames.
Camera - Nikon D810A
Lens - Nikkor 50mm F1.8D @ F5.6
Mount - Losmandy Gemini
Processed in Pixinsight.

Carina - The Carina Nebula is a huge cloud of gas and dust hundreds of lights years across visible mainly from the southern hemisphere. The pink and reds seen in this image are distinctive signs of hydrogen gas ionised by the radiation of nearby stars. One of those stars, Eta Carina, the bright white one underneath the keyhole nebula just left of centre, is a binary system containing a hypergiant star with a companion, surrounded by a shell of ejected material from eruptions in the mid 1800s which caused it to become the second brightest star in the sky for many months. It is not normally visible with the naked eye. This is further evidence that the system may be close to a spectacular supernova in the stellar near future.


This is my first deep sky shot using mostly my own equipment and has a few flaws which I will improve on in later attempts. Specifically the streaky, oval stars near the corners which a field flattener should help with.

Telescope - Vixen 115S
Camera - Nikon D810A
Processed in Lightroom and Photoshop only.

I'm not The Moon's biggest fan. It makes two weeks out of every month difficult or impossible to shoot The Milky Way or the fainter stars. But it is a pretty cool thing to look at through a telescope because it's so close and you don't need a powerful telescope to see a good level of detail. This was shot through my Vixen 115S refractor, with a focal length of about 900mm.

I'm not The Moon's biggest fan. It makes two weeks out of every month difficult or impossible to shoot The Milky Way or the fainter stars. But it is a pretty cool thing to look at through a telescope because it's so close and you don't need a powerful telescope to see a good level of detail. This was shot through my Vixen 115S refractor, with a focal length of about 900mm.

The Rho Ophiuchi region / Heart of the Scorpion. This was shot with a cheap 50mm F1.8 Nikkor lens and an expensive borrowed Losmandy Gemini mount thanks to Earth and Sky, Lake Tekapo. There are two planets in this image. Mars, the brightest top left, and Saturn, the whiter one lower centre. This was only two nights after Mars' closest approach in the last decade. When further away and less bright, it can be easily confused with Antares which is the yellow/orange star in the cloudy region near centre. Antares translates to 'Rival of Mars' or 'Equal to Mars' as they often inhabit the same region of sky and are similar brightness and colour. The artist's pallette type appearance here is from different coloured stars illuminating clouds of dust and gas as well as red glowing hydrogen regions.

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