Shortfilm of the Austrian TWANight.org PanSTARRS Expedition - a night with -25 degree celsius and gusty winds up to 45 km/h at the 3050 m high Gaislachkogel Mountain, Oetztal, Austria. In cooperation with the Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics, University Innsbruck and the Austrian Weather Service (ZAMG.ac.at).
Until about March 28th, comet PanSTARRS will be visible above Austria in the northern hemisphere during dawn. Experts from Tyrol went up to the top of the 3055 m high "Gaislachkogel", a mountain in the Ötztal, to take night shots of our cosmic neighbour.
The current weather situation in Tyrol was not appropriate for observing comet PanSTARRS in the third week of March. Therefore, well-known astrophotographer and ESO.org/ALMA foto ambassador Christoph Malin, astrophysicist Wolfgang Kausch, and worldwide expedition weather expert and mountain guide Michael Winkler from austrian weather service ZAMG searched for a location with a good sight to the comet.
"We've investigated several mountains around Innsbruck in the Gschnitztal, Stubaital, and Ötztal, which seemed to be approppriate for the comet observations", said Wolfgang Kausch. "Michael Winkler created the weather forecast for these regions, and Christoph Malin the timetable for the observation itself".
The final choice was the Gaislachkogel, which provides a good view towards north and west. "From this mountain we expected a good sight to the horizon, although being very cold (minus 25 degree celsius) with gusty winds up to 45 km/h", said Kausch. "Extremely cold conditions like that can lead to dangerous freezing, so we had to be careful and well equipped", adds Winkler.
At 13:00 the final "GO" came from weather expert Michael Winkler, so the expedition had to hurry up to reach the top of the mountain.
“At around 7:05 p.m. EXIF Data, the frames of my D4 showed the first appearance of the comet. A little bit later we discovered the comet with 8 x 52 Vixen binoculars, and a couple minutes later were able to see it with naked eye”, said Malin.
Although the camera lenses were equipped with heaters against frost there remained technical challenges. Malin: “The Live view of our D7000 failed (test shots for prefocus necessary), and I had not seen LCD's of DSLRs stopping to respond since the last TWAN imaging expedition to the 5000 m high ALMA Chajnator plateau in 2011” (See also vimeo.com/33276404 and vimeo.com/36972668).
After several hundred shots of the starry night sky the expedition ended at 01:00 with a night downhill skiing trip. Malin: “What a view, what a great moment! I will never forget the sight of this cosmic neighbour sinking into the clouds at the horizon (that tried to grab it ;)”. Kausch added: "Thanks to teamwork and perfect planning, it was a great adventure. And Many thanks go to Ötztal tourism and 'Bergbahnen Sölden' for their great support."
Nikon D7000 and Nikon D4
AFS 80-200/2.8, AFS 24-70/2.8, AFS DX 10-24/3.5-4.5 G ED
An excerpt of
The Planets - Gustav Holst - "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age"
by the Berlin Philarmonic & Herbert Von Kararajan
Intro Movie courtesy of
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Shutter Noise: Nikon D4 ;)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4
Adobe After Effects CS6
then cut & edited with
Apple Final Cut Pro X
Rendered and produced on a Macbook Pro!
Finally, please be aware of the growing issue of light pollution (plightwithlight.org)! The Alps are not dark anymore - as you can see from the last frames in the Video. Support IDA (darksky.org) on their challenge to preserve the night sky for us and our children, on reducing energy waste!
Visit the TWAN team at the UNESCO IYA 2009 Project TWAN (twanight.org) for some of the coolest nightsky images and videos on our planet! One people, one sky!
Always believe in your dreams and make it possible!
All the best,
P.S.: If you like, watch some of my other films:
"ISS Image Frontier - Making the Invisible Visible", vimeo.com/61083440
"Astronomer's Paradise", vimeo.com/36972668
"Island in the Sky", vimeo.com/53845425/
"Urban - Mountain - Sky", vimeo.com/40969904
PS2: I don't mind a donation!