Amateur astronomer Craig Collins has captured some remarkable photos of the Bundaberg Region’s night sky and says it’s something anyone can do.
Craig believes amazing photos of the moon could even be snapped by a person with a basic camera if they gave a little time and practice, which could then lead to producing images like his.
He said the beauty of watching space was it's always different and each night there's an opportunity to capture something new.
“The night sky is always changing, and just there's just too many things out there to see and discover, whether it's taking photos of deep-space objects through a telescope or lying on a blanket to watch a late-night meteor shower,” he said.
“We all hear about the big events like lunar eclipses via the media, but there's always comets, asteroids, and planets that can be tracked and viewed with even a low-powered telescope on almost any night of the week.”
As an amateur astronomer, Craig’s been lucky enough to take photos of Orion Nebula and Centaurus Cluster to name a few.
“Astro-photography is really the next step in the observation process for me,” Craig said.
“Long exposure times with a good camera also mean you can see a lot more features and detail than would ever be possible with the un-aided eye.
“I like to work via manual settings, so there's also a small element of luck involved, meaning you don't know always what you've got, sometimes it's nothing usable, until you download the images the next day.”
As with all astronomy, Craig said it could be as hard or as easy as the person wanted to make it.
“Even a basic camera can take a decent photo of the moon,” he said.
“A DSLR is a must have item, no question. A wide-angle lens for meteors and the milky way, and a good quality zoom for the moon and is all you need to get started.”
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A few years ago, Craig said he was lucky enough to join a citizen science project which involved sorting data received from sky survey satellites and this was definitely a highlight in his love of astronomy.
Craig is not only an avid sky watcher, he also has a passion for keeping people safe at work and is a senior safety trainer with Australia Safety Alliance here in Bundaberg. He says learning about space is something that captivated him decades ago.
“It started for me as a teenager learning about the constellations and star formations and grew into a fascination with all things to do with space and astronomy,” Craig said.
“It's relaxing and free to view overhead in the sky each night, all you really need is a star-chart and a clear sky.
“You can even track objects like the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station with a simple phone app. So, it's easy to get started.”
Craig said the best place in the Bundaberg Region to view the night sky was in dark, unlit places, away from artificial light.
“Anywhere away from street lights and traffic is great, but we have a bonus with the coastline nearby, as it often gives us a clear, stable atmosphere for viewing,” he said.
Craig's tips for helpful astronomy websites
Craig said he was lucky enough to have a few friends and family that shared his interest with him and for anyone in the community who was interested there were a few handy websites they could check out.
- Stellarium: free planetarium software for viewing the night sky.
- Heavens Above: for tracking satellites and when to see them.
- Astonomy Magazine: a source of great information, just keep in mind some info is for the northern hemisphere.
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