The night sky is an amazing place! We all have seen it, and we all have admired it. I am an avid star gazer and have been photographing stars for the last 5 years. Starscapes of Karnataka is not a well explored subject, mainly because of the fact that in this part of the world we have clear cloudless nights for only about 3 months in the entire year. With this constraint, making successful starscape images is limited to a very short timeframe. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to make images of the night skies in Karnataka covering a few unique events.
The moon is perhaps the most beautiful of all the objects in the night sky. Making a landscape image with the full moon is not difficult and is probably the best way for photographers to get introduced to making images at night. One of the best times to photograph the full moon is during moonrise or moonset, when the moon is closest to the horizon. This enables us to compose the image to include a few terrestrial elements in the frame. Also, this time is perfect for getting a well exposed image without either underexposing the foreground or over exposing the moon.
Moonrise over a lake near Madhugiri in Tumkur
Moon set near Madhugiri in Tumkur
Moonrise over Hasirumakki backwaters near Kodachadri
Anybody who follows starscapes would have come across star trail images. This is a classic way of depicting the beauty and the hidden pattern of our night sky. The entire night sky with all the stars and planets rise and set everyday just like theSun and Moon do on a daily basis. Rendering a long exposure image of the night sky can therefore depict the stars as streaks or lines, with the length of the line being proportionate to the length of the exposure. Making a long exposure image of the night sky with the Pole Star in the northern horizon depicts the stars moving around the Pole Star in circles.
Star trails and a jet trail at Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve
Star trails and a prickly pear at Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve
A dead tree takes center stage in this star trails image photographed at Hasirumakki backwaters near Kodachadri
One of the most followed events of the night sky is the Lunar Eclipse. Watching the moon getting engulfed in darkness only to emerge again is a true source of inspiration. What many people don’t know is that during the eclipse totality the moon turns a deep dark red in color. This color lasts just for a few minutes during totality and is a sight to behold. Making images of the moon during the eclipse at regular intervals is a very good way of documenting the progress of the eclipse and also useful in case you are planning on making a time lapse.
Phases of a Lunar Eclipse as seen from my rooftop in Bangalore
A deep red moon at eclipse totality, photographed from my rooftop in Bangalore
Meteor showers happen throughout the year at specific times. Given the common occurrence of the event, the awareness among the public for the same is quite low. Any meteor shower is characterized by meteors which fall through the night sky burning up like fireballs in the process. A good meteor shower like the Geminids can produce as many as a 100 striking fireballs per hour! Watching the skies light up with the astronomical fireworks is truly mesmerizing. Photographing a meteor shower involves making multiple exposures of the night sky with meteors and then merging them to create a composite image of the event.
Geminids meteor showers photographed in BR Hills
All in all, making images of the night sky is a highly rewarding experience and is bound to enhance the photographer’s understanding of nature and its cycles.