- Don’t miss the Top 5 astronomical moments of 2019 from the next supermoon on the 21st March to the Geminid Meteor Shower in December
- Wherever you travel this year, ensure you’re camera-ready to photograph the magic of the night sky
- Guide includes a stunning photography series shot by Europe’s leading astro-photographers using Sony’s 24mm F1.4 GM lens
With International Dark Sky Week approaching on the 31st March, Sony has partnered with leading astro photographers to highlight the astronomical delights on display this year and give insider tips on when, where and how to capture the perfect shot.
From the Milky Way to incredible star trails, astro photographers from across Europe Albert Dros, Andrew Whyte, Alexander Heinrichs and Leonardo Orazi show us how it’s done capturing this stunning photo series using Sony’s 24mm F1.4 GM lens. The perfect lens for capturing incredibly detailed astro-images due to its ability to take clear and crisp shots of the night skies while preventing any unwanted light reflections from the glass.
Top 5 astronomical moments to be ‘camera ready’ for in 2019
- The Supermoon (March 21st) The final supermoon for 2019 as it reaches its closest point to the Earth for the year; head to a beautiful location to capture it in all its glory
- Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower (May 6-7th) – Likely to be the best chance of enjoying a meteor shower of the year, as the thin crescent moon leaves an inky black sky; the perfect canvas for the spectacular shooting star show
- Total Solar Eclipse (July 2nd) – This eclipse will not be visible from Europe but travellers to South Americas & Pacific regions will appreciate the spectacular sight. Remember, it is important you never look directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse
- Partial Lunar Eclipse (July 16th) A small part of the Moon's surface will be covered by the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow. You’ll be able to see it through most of Europe as well as Africa, central Asia and the Indian Ocean
- Geminid Meteor Shower (Dec 14th) - The sky will be illuminated with shooting stars for around a week, but is expected to reach its peak on the 14th when you could see up to 100 meteors per hour
Best destinations to catch the night sky in Europe
According to Bettymaya Foott from the International Dark-Sky Association, summer is the prime time to capture the Milky Way galactic centre, but winter has its benefits too. There are multiple locations around Europe where you’ll want to look up when visiting –
- Exmoor National Park, UK - Like many of the UK’s National Parks, Exmoor holds some of the UK’s best night sky views. Established as an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2011, you’ll find minimal light pollution across the Park. Many of its scenic spots are comfortably accessible at night and it’s far enough south to offer a view of the Milky Way core from March to Sept
- La Palma, Canary Isles - Situated in the Atlantic some distance from continental Europe and with a mild & stable climate, La Palma offers a year-round chance of clear night sky views. Climb to the top of the island to clear any clouds and enjoy a spectacular view of the Milky Way
- The Dolomites, Italy - With beautiful mountainous terrain and a climate that supports skiing in winter and sunbathing in summer, clear skies in the Dolomites will give you a range of photographic opportunities throughout the year
- Bükk National Park, Hungary - Mountainous Bükk is Hungary’s largest national park, situated among the country’s tallest peaks, surrounded by mesmerising waterfalls and caves. It was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2017
- Cévennes National Park, France. A recent addition to the list of International Dark Sky sites, Cévennes sits in an area popular for tourism and camping, making summer nights beneath the stars a real possibility
The story behind the imagery: Milky Way (Netherlands Albert Dros)
Popular for its stunning, mystic appearance, the Milky Way is an all-time favourite amongst night-sky enthusiasts. Award-winning photographer Albert Dros from The Netherlands recently captured this in all its glory from a canyon in Kyrgyzstan on the south of the Issyk-Kul lake. As Albert highlights, “The night sky is infinitely beautiful and people go to great lengths to capture its awe-inspiring beauty. Fortunately, the new 24mm F1.4m GM lens captures great detail and supresses sagittal flare, doing a lot of the work for you so you can capture the beautiful scenes with ease.”
The story behind the imagery: Star Trails (Italy Leonardo Orazi)
Italian Astro photographer Leonardo Orazi captured mesmerising star trail images near Sestriere in The Alps using the 24mm F1.4 GM lens, as he highlights, “I tend to shoot my best photos in The Alps; I like the peace and quiet, but mainly the clear dark skies which allow me to get the perfect shot. Having lightweight equipment is crucial for me as I walk along the mountainside. At only 400g, the new Sony lens is the ultimate companion.”
The story behind the imagery: Supermoon (UK’s Andrew Whyte)
With the next supermoon happening on the 21st March, photographer Andrew Whyte gives his top tips for capturing the moon at its closest point to earth in all glory. He says: “Capturing the supermoon can be done in many ways – the classic close up shot with something in view or one from a distance to encapsulate the night sky. The best pictures have been taken with careful attention to the kit I use. Sony’s 24mm F1.4 GM lens captures the detail, avoids the sagittal flare and allows me to get on with doing what I do best.”
Notes to Editors
For more information or images, please contact Sony PR team: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the α7 III Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Camera
An entirely renewed image sensor and image processing system further enhance image quality. Improved overall AF performance, high-speed continuous shooting of up to 10 fps, 4K movie recording capability, and operability that has been dramatically upgraded from the α7 II allow more decisive moments to be captured.
- 24.2MP 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor with back-illuminated design
- Sensitivity range up to ISO 51200 (expandable to ISO 50-204800 for stills)
- Fast Hybrid AF with 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection AF points
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About the SEL24F14GM Lens
Unsparing application of leading-edge technology achieves refined G Master performance with consistently high resolution and soft, natural bokeh even at the widest F1.4 aperture setting. The lens is both compact and the lightest in its class, maximizing portability. It also offers fast, precise AF drive, top-level control and reliability.
- Premium G Master Series Wide-range prime lens
- DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) for quiet, highly precise focus lens control
- Circular 11-blade aperture for beautiful defocus effects
- Two XA (extreme aspherical) elements in an optical design contribute to G Master's high resolution
- Dust and moisture-resistant design
About Sony Corporation
Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, imaging, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, interactive entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $77 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018. Sony Global Web Site: http://www.sony.net/
About International Dark Sky Week
International Dark Sky Week is a global initiative to raise awareness about light pollution. Created in 2003, International Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month.
This year celebrations begin on Sunday, March 31, and run through Sunday, April 7, 2019. Check out 5 ideas for participation here, and click here for information on available resources to use during the week. For International Dark Sky Week collateral, check out this online folder.
Further commentary from International Dark-Sky Association
Bettymaya Foottt, Director of Engagement at the International Dark-Sky Association says: “During the summer the earth at night (in the northern hemisphere) is looking toward the centre of our galaxy, home to the highest concentration of stars. The combined starlight makes it the most luminous part, too.
“For those shooting in winter, however, the winter Milky Way shows us the outside edge of our galaxy. With fewer stars, the wintertime Milky Way will appear subtler than its summer counterpart but composition, foreground, and knowledge of some of the brighter constellations (like Orion) will help to compose a striking image.
“Layering consecutive night sky images will give you the effect of star trails. Some people take single longer exposures with a lower ISO for the same result, but I like the method of stacking as it reduces digital noise.
“Pointing North, you will get concentric circles around our North Star. Shooting in other directions will give you large arcs of stars.”
About the photographers
Andrew Whyte – Four-time shortlisted for the Royal Observatory's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, Andrew is a commercial photographer based in Hampshire, UK. Andrew has two distinct specialisms: by day he’s known for capturing light-hearted scenes using tricks of perspective and by night he’s known for astro photography.
You can find our more here: www.longexposures.co.uk
Albert Dros – Award-winning photographer based in The Netherlands. As well as specialising in astro photography, Albert spends time capturing landscapes.
You can find out more here: www.albertdros.com
Leonardo Orazi – Born in Umbria, Italy, Leonardo is a passionate astro photographer who shoots all year-round capturing nebulae, galaxies, clusters and nightscapes.
You can find out more here: www.starkeeper.it
Alexander Heinrichs - Formerly a pharmacologist, Alexander has been a professional photographer and designer for 12 years. Based in Aschaffenburg, he is also a teacher and shares his skills in various publications. His portfolio spans still life, landscape and astro photography. You can find out more here: www.alexanderheinrichs.com