Starry night: skies over New Zealand

Photo: Ngauruhoe Rise, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (2.0) image from astronomr (aka Jason Brown)'s photostream, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. Another beautiful shot, showing trails as the stars move across the sky, is here. Photographer Jason Brown has a blog with more wonderful astronomy photos, and says,
The first processed shot in the thousands of pictures we took on a ridge under Tongariro, 9 March 2013. In Maori legend, the mountains were once gods and warriors of great strength. Seven mountains once stood next to each other around Lake Taupo. All were male except for the beautiful Pihanga. One night the mountains fought fiercely for her attention. There were violent eruptions, smoke and fire as the land trembled under the violent battle. In the morning Pihanga stood next to the victor, Tongariro, who became the supreme leader of the land. Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu stood a respectable distance behind but Tauhara – unable to completely leave his love – sat smouldering at the northern end of the lake. Putauaki (Mt Edgecumbe) headed north towards the dawn, and ended up 160 kilometres away, while Mt Taranaki dragged himself south, his tears creating the great Whanganui River as he went.


  1. follow the milky way up – those two bright stars near the end of the brightest part are called “the pointers” they point at the southern cross which you can also see there

    The pointers are alpha and beta centauri – yes that star closer to the bottom is the closest to earth

  2. Beautiful Photos. I wonder how you get sharp stars and a sharp silhouette of the mountain? Maybe just a very good camera and bright lens so the exposure can be short. Or is it a merged picture of a long exposure tracked star photo, and a tripod photo of the mountain. Whatever it is, it’s very effective.

  3. The term “processed shot” was a bit of a give-away, however, away from light pollution in our cities, us folk here in New Zealand are blessed with a fantastic view of the Milky Way, the Galaxy that we are part of !  I do love spiral nebula / galaxies – refer hubble deep field images for more thoughts … 

    1. Even with our super-dark skies (at least on the slopes of Mt Tongariro, where this was taken) and with the fastest lens possible (this one was f2.8)  when you;re shooting the night sky, you always have to process the shots.  Remember that even at it’s brightest moment, the stars are very dim and the sky is very dark.  

      That being said, this isn’t too far off what came out of the camera, some contrast and chromatic aberration adjustments and noise reduction – it was shot at 5000 iso.

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