Apollo Bay crowned by the Milky Way

The air was clear and cold, and the moon would not rise until close to dawn the following day.  There was the occasional patch of coastal stratus ghosting silently along the coast in the chilly westerly.   (I take the view that a little bit of cloud can enhance a night sky photo).

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En route to Cape Patton Lookout (17kms east of Apollo Bay, along the Great Ocean Road) I stopped at Smythe’s Creek (a popular local surf break) as the last of the day faded.
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The fading of the light was quick as the car headlights indicate.
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It wasn’t long before the light reached levels where a few stars became visible to the naked eye.
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Then as darkness arrived, it was the fading sunlight that was barely visible to the naked eye (but  easily detected by the Nikon).   Some cloud conveniently framed the left side of this view together with a spur just west of Cape Patton.


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As it happens, this photo (jpeg) was taken a year ago (almost to the day), on my old Nikon D70S.  The framing is essentially identical to the immediately preceding photo.  Photography truly is all about the light.  The only difference between these two photos is the amount of light, and the amount of visible moisture in the air.
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This small cloud totally covered the Milky Way then like a theatre curtain it slid silently to the left to reveal the galaxy in all its glory.  Perfectly on cue a shooting star blazed across the heavens above Apollo Bay.
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The Milky Way silently and magnificently crowned Apollo Bay last night.  Standing before this spectacle compelled awe.  I could never be indifferent to such a sight.
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Clockwise from L to R: shooting star, the greater Magellanic Cloud, the Milky Way, a bank of stratus, and what is possibly the glow from the faint northern limit of the Aurora Australis beyond the horizon.  But of course I could be completely wrong about this.  More research needed, or a chat with someone who knows what they are talking about.  This reddish band could not be seen with the naked eye.  But the 35 megapixel light sensor on the Nikon picked it up.
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It seems that there was a shooting star or two in more than half the sky shots I took last night.
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The intersecting lines of the stratus cloud and the Milky Way draw the eye to the mysterious reddish band on the horizon.  It was way too late to be the last of the sunset, and in any event this shot was taken looking pretty much SSW.
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Looking nearly straight up at the core of the Milky Way once again resulted in me departing from my usual practice of not taking photos of stars without some earthly reference point in the photo.
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View to the south west, with the lights of Marengo and part of Apollo Bay on the horizon.
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What mysteries to ponder.


Postscript: For anyone interested in the technical details, these photos were taken on my Nikon D810 with a Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 zoom lens.  I used manual focus, shutter speeds of between 10 and 20 seconds (cable shutter release), aperture set at f2.8, focal length of 24mm, and ISOs in the range 1000 to 6400 (but mostly around 3200).  I frame and focus using live view.  Each image was edited on Adobe Lightroom 6 in an attempt to create an image which most closely approximated what I saw.  I never do composite images. 


2 thoughts on “Apollo Bay crowned by the Milky Way

  1. Never thought I’d find content like this. Amazing.
    I just moved here and was looking for spots to shoot.
    Can you tell me where exactly you have placed your camera?
    Apollo bay being such a vast area


    1. Most of the photos on this post were taken from the lookout at Cape Patton, 17 kms east of Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road. It is remote from ground lighting, save for passing road traffic. For that reason, late at night is a good time. Another location I have used for photographing the stars is the start of the great ocean walk. Go far enough west from the Marengo caravan park to be out of the sight and glow of the town lights. Take a torch! Probably best to do a daytime reconnaissance trip on the GOW track before heading down it in the dark.


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