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Tassie photographer braves cold to take time lapse of our Milky Way galaxy

Navarone Farrell, July 15, 2020 8:05AM The Launceston News

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Fergus Gregory's photo of the Milky Way over Ben Lomond, Tasmania. Picture: Instagram/@fergtas media_cameraFergus Gregory's photo of the Milky Way over Ben Lomond, Tasmania. Picture: Instagram/@fergtas

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A beginner astrophotographer* has braved Tasmania’s freezing winter nights to capture the Milky Way’s dance across the sky in some of the state’s most picturesque* locations.

Fergus Gregory has only recently picked up a regular camera after previously concentrating on drone videography*, but it didn’t take him long to get his eye in for astrophotography.

“I just got a couple of new cameras … I haven’t been doing astrophotography for a long time, I have a friend here who’s been showing me the ropes*,” he said.

“I’ve been doing a lot of drone photography, I was always into videography, but then I decided I would get a DSLR* and try astrophotography.”

Milky Way produces cinematic effect in Tasmanian sky

Mr Gregory uses heat packs in his pockets, multiple layers of clothes and every other trick in the book to keep warm while shooting hundreds of photos to put together into the time lapses.

“It takes a long time. It takes a lot of patience because you have to go out and be in that same spot for at least three, four hours,” he said.

“I did one at Ben Lomond (a mountain) the other night and I was there for nearly six hours sitting in a boulder field, in the freezing cold, up a mountain.”

From home to location it can be up to a three-hour drive for Mr Gregory, then several hours on location.

“To start with it was just a few images, and then I saw time lapses of the Milky Way and thought ‘that looks cool’,” he said.

“It becomes a bit of an addiction after a while.”

But he said that while he’s out there in the cold and dark he wonders why he puts himself through the discomfort of cold and lack of sleep.

“Sometimes you’re sitting out in the middle of nowhere by yourself at night, thinking ‘what am I doing,” he chuckled.

According to Discover Tasmania, “the limited ambient* light, paired with some of the cleanest air in the world, makes Tasmania the perfect spot to gaze up at a brilliant night sky.”

Mr Gregory has filmed several time lapses so far, including one at Bonnie Beach (above) and the other at the iconic Bay of Fires’ ‘lone tree’ (below).

Bay of Fires illuminated by Milky Way in Tasmanian photographer's timelapse

THE MILKY WAY
This is the name of the spiral-shaped galaxy that our own Solar System is in.

The name Milky Way describes how it looks from Earth: a hazy, whitish band of light made up of many stars that we can’t see individually without a telescope, plus gas, dust and dark matter.

The Milky Way is just one galaxy in the universe. Some galaxies are similar to the Milky Way and some are very different. In 2016 scientists estimated that there are around two trillion galaxies in the observable universe.

In 1936, astronomer Edwin Hubble (the Hubble telescope is named after him) classified galaxies into four main types: spiral galaxies (like the Milky Way), lenticular galaxies, elliptical galaxies, and irregular galaxies.

A spiral galaxy has a flat, spinning disk with a central bulge surrounded by spiral arms. The spinning is thought to make the matter in it form into a spiral shape.

GLOSSARY

  • astrophotographer: photographs astronomy
  • picturesque: beautiful to look at
  • videography: filming video
  • showing me the ropes: showing someone how to do something
  • ambient: everywhere, rather than from a direct source, such as a lamp

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What did Mr Gregory concentrate on before he began photographing the night sky?
  2. Mr Gregory went to Ben Lomond. What is it and what did he do there?
  3. What is the Milky Way?
  4. What galaxy is our Solar System in?
  5. What did Edwin Hubble do for a job?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Write a description
The time lapse videos show incredible images of the Milky Way as it moves across the sky.

Choose one of the videos shown in this article and watch it carefully. While watching, think of how you can describe the image to someone who cannot see it. What does it look similar too? What colours and shapes can you see? What vocabulary (words) will help you describe the image for others. Watch the video again – this time without sound. Does it change your perception of the video?

When you have watched the video a few times and thought of how you can describe it, use your ideas to write a descriptive paragraph about the image. Be as detailed as possible in your description.

You can test out your descriptive skills, by asking someone who has not seen the video to read your paragraph and draw what they ‘see’ from your words. Was their visualisation close to the real image? Do you need to adjust your paragraph to help them ‘picture’ the video more clearly?

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, The Arts- Visual Arts

2. Extension
What is time lapse photography?

Mr Gregory has used time lapse photography to capture images of the Milky Way. But what is time lapse photography? If you are not sure, research what it is, and then write an explanation in your own words of time lapse photography.

In your explanation, include what it is, why this technique is a good way to capture the Milky Way’s movement across the sky compared with other forms of photography.

What else would be good to capture using time lapse photography?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Technologies – Digital Technologies, Critical and Creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Verb adventures
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you like to make a time lapse of?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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