|SUNSPOTS, 2 APRIL 2013|
FRASER'S MAIN SITE
Fraser Gunn Astrophotography
"100 Billion Planets, say NZ Astronomers"
When I first went to college I wanted to be an astronomer, until I learned that in general they don't look at the stars but sit at desks and computers crunching numbers and calculating. My earliest photographic adventures were celestial in nature, and Fraser has progressed light-years beyond anything I have ever been able to do in this domain.
It goes without saying that you have to be awake at night to see the stars and to photograph celestial objects. In addition to being an astro-photographer, Fraser conducts 'guided tours' of the heavens from his back yard, where people can come and for a nominal fee of $40 have an hour or more of photographing the heavens themselves, if they have an slr camera. In the past couple of nights I've seen photos taken 'by' two different people, with Fraser's assistance of course, that look as nice as anything you would see in an astronomy magazine. He also works part-time at Mt. John observatory, home of the largest telescopes in New Zealand, including 1.0 and 1.8 meter Cassegrain reflectors. He is currently assisting with a program that is performing spectrographic analyses of individual stars to determine if they might have planetary systems. He is a technological master of many kinds of devices, including computer-controlled equatorial mounts that allow telescopes and cameras to track celestial objects closely for long periods, as well as computer programs that 'stack' and process sequences of still images in order to create time-lapse animations. These are what really blow me away...on his youtube channel you can see dozens of these, some with the aurora australis flickering and glowing. He likes my music and we are going to combine forces as it were creatively on some various projects, and I am going to use some of his celestial time-lapse footage in my 'beyond film' about the whales and dolphins. I would like to thank Fraser, his lovely Japanese partner Yuriko, and their four kitty-cats for having me for three days and nights of wonderful sharing and good company. Please check out his web-site, Facebook page, and Youtube channel for some mind-blowing and highly inspiring imagery!
An astronomical orientation is to me an extremely valuable gift...it provides us with a sense of how truly insignificant we are...and how blessed to live on such a miraculous planet in such a beautiful and improbable universe!
SOUTH ISLAND NZ
4 APRIL 2013