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Night Sky & Pentax O’GPS1 Astro Tracer

While on Maria Island recently we were treated to an incredibly clear night and I decided to break out the Pentax O’GPS1 Unit and make use of its unique astro tracing function. I have posted in detail about this feature in a previous post, but in a nutshell, the feature utilises the cameras in camera image stabilisation to literally rotate the camera’s sensor and negate the effect of star trailing. The first subject of the night’s shoot was the easy to find Eta Carinae nebula.

Pentax O'GPS1 & Astro Tracer: Eta Carinae nebula

Pentax O’GPS1 & Astro Tracer: Eta Carinae nebula. Pentax K5; Tamron 70-200mm at 200mm. F3.5. ISO3200. 60 second exposure.

Omega Centauri to the unaided eye looks like a regular star but is in fact a globular star cluster, as this image at 200mm, again 60 seconds shows.

Pentax O'GPS1 Astro Tracer: Omega Centauri

Pentax O’GPS1 Astro Tracer: Omega Centauri. 60 second exposure at 200mm. F3.5. ISO3200.

Here is a map showing the location of these two features, both in the vicinity of the Southern Cross (Crux).

Star Map - Southern Cross, Centaurus & Carina

Star Map – Southern Cross, Centaurus & Carina

The longer the focal length the shorter the maximum trace time so at 200mm 1 minute is a good exposure, but at a wide angle (eg 12mm) much longer exposures of up to 5 minutes are possible. I took the following 210 second exposure of the milky way dominating the southern sky.

Milky Way in the southern sky, Tasmania

Milky Way in the southern sky, Tasmania. Pentax O’GPS1 & Astro Tracer. 210 second exposure, F5.6. 14mm, ISO 2000.

Finally, we engaged in a little light painting on one of the old buildings with the fantastically clear and starry skies above.

Maria Island & Milky Way

Maria Island & Milky Way

This was a single exposure, not using the astro tracing function. ISO 2500 at 30 seconds. Anyone keen to explore night sky photography could do a lot worse than picking up a Pentax K-5 which now discontinued is going for an absolute steal.

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Tasmanian Photographic Workshops November 15~21 2013
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More Pentax Astrotracer shots with the K5/O-GPS1
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About Luke

Luke O'Brien runs a stall at Hobart's popular Salamanca Market every Saturday where his prints and cards are available for purchase. Follow Luke's photographic adventures on Twitter at @lukeobrienphoto, at his Facebook page or by subscribing to his email newsletter.