Ryan Fraser’s image of the Whale Galaxy topped the sea of entries, winning Photo of the Week on April 16, 2021.
Using a GSO RC8 (f/8) telescope, Fraser said he imaged the galaxy from London, Ontario, over two nights in April 2021. He gathered 10 hours worth of data at Unity Gain (139) on an ASI1600MM Pro.
“I was pleased with how colourful the galaxy itself is, even with a relatively short integration for the focal length,” he wrote, noting that he processed the image in PixInsight and Photoshop.
Our honourable mention this week goes to Carl James for this perfectly-composed picture of the Milky Way over the Prince of Wales Hotel in Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park on March 14, 2021, at 5 a.m. He captured the image using a Nikon Z6 and 24mm lens (f/2.8) on the Sky-Watcher Mini tracker.
This is an eight-panel panoramic mosaic in portrait orientation, with four panels of tracked sky and four for the landscape. The original image size is 10,494 X 6647 at 300ppi. The exposures were 150 seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 640, taken back-to-back. James stitched the images together using Camera Raw and blended them together in Photoshop 2019. Final colour finishes were done in Camera Raw.
“This is an image I’ve been waiting to photograph since October last year after photographing the full Moon rise with planet Mars at this same location,” he wrote. “Using my planetary app, on this night I knew it was possible to capture the Cygnus region of the Milky Way over the Prince of Wales Hotel low on the horizon and thought it would make for an interesting composition.”
James said he found his opportunity March 12-14, 2021, as there was a new Moon with two clear nights and no wind at Waterton. Canada’s night skies were also blessed with a lively northern lights show, which reached the Canada/United States border, he noted.
“This actually proved to be very challenging in the early hours of Sunday, as the lights just washed out the Milky Way to the point I thought ‘yup, this isn’t the night; we all have these nights, right?” he wrote. “I decided to stick it out and waited that extra hour. BOOM. The lights started to diminish, and the Milky Way was starting to get into that perfect position that I imagined. This gave me the opportunity to take my long exposures so I could capture the silhouette of the Milky Way over the hotel, thankfully.”
Keep your eyes on the skies — and on the prize! Prizes for the 2020-21 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron and The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click here for more details on the prize packages that will be awarded to the best photos this year.