Waking up to warmer days in the bush capital is a damn treat. It's as if the spring sun highlights all the elements we never even noticed during winter. But if you thought it couldn't get any more lustrous, Canberra is just as spectacular under the cover of darkness.
Witness how our dark skies come alive with the stellar tips and shots of three local photographers Ari Rex, Glenn Martin and Ian Williams.
Canberra is one of the best cities in Australia - and possibly the world - for astrophotography and stargazing. Its lack of light pollution and low humidity helps when photographing the Milky Way and capturing sharp, pinpoint images of the stars.
My favourite Canberra spot is the arboretum's Dairy Farmers Lookout facing the Brindabellas. William Hovell Drive is another great spot in the city, but you have to wait until after 11pm, when the city lights dim a bit, and after 2am when they dim a bit more.
Though you can still photograph the Milky Way from the middle of Canberra, to get the best results you'll need to drive about 30-50 minutes away from the city lights.
My favourite places for capturing high quality nightscapes are in Namadgi, Tharwa, Tidbinbilla and near or at Taemas Bridge, NSW.
Ari Rex is exhibiting his work at the Namadgi Visitor Centre over the next two months. Visit his website arirex.com.au
I love shooting astrophotography. It’s not uncommon to feel my heart beat that little bit faster when I look up into a clear sky and see the Milky Way for the first time that night. It’s hard not to feel awed and at the same time feel so insignificant when looking at the immensity of the sky.
There’s no question getting as far away as possible from bright light pollution means better astrophotography. For me, shooting astro in the Canberra region is all about accessibility.
Within 30 minutes of the CBD you can be under suitably dark enough skies that are more than clear enough to get great imagery of the stars.
Out at Lake George there are clear views to the east and early in the season you can see the Milky Way core rising above the horizon. Like the full moon as it just starts to rise, the core just feels so much bigger when it has the context of our land below it.
I also love that I live in the bush capital. My last workshop we were chasing the Milky Way out west Belconnen. We were quite literally tripping over wombats while pointing our cameras out to the Brindabellas to catch the Milky Way’s amazing arc in in the western sky. Now that’s astrophotography in Canberra.
Check out Glenn Martin's work at facebook.com/GlennMartinPhotographer/
Two of my favourite astrophotography spots in Canberra are the Tharwa area and "Legoland" in Namadgi National Park near the Honeysuckle Creek campground. Tharwa offers dark skies to the south, ideal for checking out whether the southern lights (Aurora Australis) are on display.
Legoland is truly a boutique location, and only 25 minutes from my home. It's an amazing jumble of granite tors which stand at around 1300 metres high. It has a commanding view over the Orroral Valley, including the site of the Orroral Tracking Station and across to where the "lunar laser" observatory was located.
This photo was taken with my camera set up between two giant tors, over 10 metres high in Legoland in July last year.
My only company, apart from the brilliance of the Milky Way, was a small possum who came over to check me out. This shot shows the feature found in the Milky Way's core, extending near the Southern Cross known to the indigenous people as "the emu" between the two boulders.
Ian Williams runs astrophotography workshops for Canberrans keen on capturing the night sky. Bookings at imagesbyimw.com.au