I get a message from Fuzz on a Monday evening about who would be keen to going out for a astro shoot on the following night, as the weather, conditions and timing was looking good for it. It was a group message, others in the group started replying that they could be keen, it could be a option. I reply later - "peer pressure" jokingly, as everybody else was keen!
It's a weekday with work commitments the next day, it's pretty crazy. I tell the group I will the decide the next day. The Tuesday is a pretty cloudy day to begin with, and at that point I had already decided I would probably not go. As the day went along - it started to clear up, and by late afternoon, virtually no clouds in the sky! I reply back to group "I'm in". By 9pm I'm heading my way out to Bethells Beach, we meet at a meeting point in between to do car pooling. We all hop into my car and we are off to Bethells.
Few advantages of Bethells is that it's not too away, and also one of the less popular beaches, with hardly any light pollution around. We meet up with another group there - Guillaume with his friends James and Brendan. The plan is head to south end of the beach, near some rocks out there. It is still clear out, milky way still pretty high above us, but getting lower and lower. As we approach the southern end, we are pretty free to explore the area and we split into little groups. I'm initially there with Alan, we climb up a rock, Alan nearly falls over whiles we are up the top. But the spot is not so interesting, as there is no foreground to shoot. The milky way is still up and beautiful, but after taking a few photos we can see clouds showing on our photos.
We come down from the spot and now I split off to climb another big rock - Alan, Fuzz, Grantis are all nearby somewhere, as I can see the light from their head torches and the LCD screen of the cameras. I'm in search for a spot to setup a time lapse.
I find a space to setup my time lapse camera - it's a pretty sweet spot I think, with a rock on the right hand side, the end of the beach on the left hand side and a slight elevated position showing the beach in between. As soon I finish my setup I look up and I start seeing dark patches of sky!! The clouds - it is covering a lot of the sky. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. I thought maybe this would only be temporary and would look OK on the time lapse anyway, I set it and let the camera do it's thing.
I make my down from the rock, being careful to use my red light only, as I can see the others are shooting beside and behind me. It is pitch black, so I need some sort of marker to remember where I left my camera as well, in case the battery dies and I can't see the LCD screen - I remember a branch on the ground being nearby, use that as my marker.
I'm back on the beach now - make my around the rock I just climbed to the other side. I've got my other camera on hand - it's time to explore a little bit. But the clouds have set in for good, for most part there is cloud all over the galactic core of the milky way. I take in a few shots and some mini time lapses. I see the others are now shooting behind the big rock, Mars is visible - about to dip behind.
At this stage - we had spent almost 2 hours out there and with no signs of the clouds retreating, we called it a night. There was some awesome shots taken by Fuzz, Guillaume, Alan, James, definitely go check out their work. Alan got a nice glowing milky way photo behind those clouds. Although at end it didn't turn out to be greatest night out for milky way shooting, we made the most out of what we had.
This was not the first time I've been out star gazing, but yet again I was just so amazed by looking up at the sky seeing a billions and billions of stars, galaxies, planets, and other objects out there. And for a lot of people - they have not seen this, if you live in a urban area, you will not see the sky like this, all the light pollution around you just doesn't allow for it. Go out to a dark area, let your eyes adjust and it's amazing what you will see, I saw a couple of shooting stars that evening as well!