Image Credit & Copyright: Jay Daley
This has quickly become one of my favorite night sky images of all time. What an incredible blend of adventure, natural wonders and intense beauty all wrapped up in one image frame.
The unmistakable arc of the Milky Way galaxy carves its way through the night sky like the glaciers below through the Earth. The red-yellow glow of the southern lights rise from the horizon like fire attempting to, if only mentally, take away the chill of the sub-freezing temperatures.
This image was captured atop New Zealand’s highest point, the treacherous Mt. Cook at the Plateau Hut (yes it’s as precarious as it looks) in the Southern Alps. This image is a lesson on how opportunity can be your best friend if you’re prepared to work hard and take advantage of it when it presents itself. After allowing his camera to sit alone, snapping away with hopes of creating startrails from the resulting data (which he did), Jay later went back and began flipping through the frames for inspection. As he went through, frame by frame he noticed a red glow begin appear in the images. That glow, as it turns out was the aurora australis or southern lights. That’s the same as the Northern hemisphere’s aurora borealis but for the Southern hemisphere.
In the image is also the incredible Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. Which, by the way, is near the top of my celestial bucket list. What else can you make out here? Can anyone name some of those bright clusters and stars?
Even in daylight a view like this requires you to take pause and really respect what you’re seeing. As an avid hiker myself this is someplace I would truly appreciate the opportunity to explore but be warned, Mt Cook is no joke.
JDL Photography: http://www.jdlphotography.com.au/