Behind the Lens – The Milky Way over La Palma, Canary Islands

Posted: July 18, 2013    Categories: Canary Islands, Travel Photography

astrophotography la palma canary islands

I am not an expert in Astrophotography. Nonetheless, I had the chance to try my hand at it when I was on the island of La Palma back in 2011.

La Palma, along with Mauna Kea in Hawaii, is one of the most important locations for professional astronomy in the world. It is the location of the world’s largest single mirror telescope as well as many other high end devices. The reason why La Palma is such a great place to do astronomy is because the top of the mountain there is almost always above the clouds which means there a large number of nights each year where you can see the heavens.

I had the opportunity while I was on La Palma to go out one night and shoot the stars with my camera with a local amateur astronomer. I jumped at the chance.

We set up near the southern most tip of the island near a salt works and waited for the sun to set. While you can do astrophotography with almost any camera and a tripod, I had the luxury this night to attach my camera to a telescope with a motor that would compensate for the rotation of the Earth. I mounted my camera on the top of the telescope and used my own wide angle lens, I didn’t have it set up to look through the telescope.)

What mounting your camera to a motorized telescope allows you to do it get longer exposures without getting the blur of stars moving across your field of view.

I spent several hours trying to perfect what I was capturing and took many photos trying to get a decent view of the Milky Way without clouds in the way. The result is what you see on the top of the page.

Astrophotography is something I’d like to do more of, but I just haven’t made the effort to do it. Based on the images I’ve seen online, I think there is a lot of room for improvement compared to what I’ve done in the past.

Photo Information
Camera: Nikon D700
Focal Length: 14mm
ISO: 1600
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure: 30 sec.

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