Sky snappers reveal other wordly night sky crucial to regional astrotourism

Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
Email Kellie Balaam
Bluff Knoll.
Camera IconBluff Knoll. Credit: Hedworx Digital/Hedworx Digital

There is something special about being out in the country immersed in darkness, surrounded only by wilderness.

Standing under the night sky in all its beauty, and without heavy light pollution, the stars burn brightly.

Astrophotographers dedicate their time to exposing the night sky in a level of detail that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

The images they capture are truly out of this world.

Last month, Inspire spoke with Albany astrophotographer Luke Hetherington, who gave an insight into his dark art.

Once you understand how much behind-the-scenes work goes into each photograph, it gives you an even greater appreciation of the end product.

The images can give the viewer a hit of perspective as it is sometimes easy to forget how small we are when stars and galaxies remain hidden.

One topic Hetherington touched on was the emergence of astrotourism in WA.

Astrophotographer Luke Hetherington.
Camera IconAstrophotographer Luke Hetherington. Credit: Hedworx Digital/Hedworx Digital

Organisation Astrotourism WA sees the night sky as an asset worth protecting and has established a map of towns where stargazing is at its best in the State.

As Astrotourism becomes more popular, more towns are being added to the map and seeing the value in keeping light pollution low where possible.

“I’ve been out before on some nights and the sky is so bright with stars, it leaves a shadow on the ground,” Hetherington said.

Laying back on his swag on his astrophotography expeditions, Hetherington counts his lucky stars.

He considers himself fortunate to live in a region where he only has to travel for 20 minutes to be plunged into darkness.

“In the city, light pollution these days is terrible,” he said.

“A lot of people have never seen the Milky Way, so it’s always pretty exciting to see that in full flight.

“Astrotourism WA encourages international travellers to come here with their cameras and utilise dark skies, promoting tourism to regional towns.

“There are big pushes around the world to reduce light pollution but that’s a big project to try and tackle.”

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