To break our journey from George to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park (KTNP), we decided to have an overnight stay on a farm some 15kms south east of the Karoo town of Britstown. Other than passing through the town on previous trips to the KTNP and once when driving from De Aar to Carnarvon, I knew very little of the area. So it was with some apprehension when I booked a guest/farmhouse near the town. It was close to the halfway distance of our journey. It turned out to be a fabulous stopover with the two of us having a very well appointed farmhouse to ourselves. Swimmimg pool and braai facilities all included and the home well stocked with all the household and kitchen necessities – to say nothing of the excellent Karoo mutton chops.
But what made it special for me were the photographic opportunies presented by a typical scattered thundershower that happened just as we were approaching the farm. It really bucketed down. As we were going to the KTNP I had most of my photo gear (super telephoto lenses and a few camera bodies) packed away for the journey, but I did keep my new Canon EOS R5 out with the excellent RF 28-70mm f/2L lens handy. This did have some limitations, especially at the wide end, but proved itself with its superb image quality.
The storm broke just as we were arriving at the farm, but started to clear about an hour later. The various lighting and rainbow opportunities were very good. The images below, with the exception of the night image, were taken over a period of about an hour until the sun had set. All images were taken handheld with a Canon R5 mirrorless body and an RF 28-70mm f/2L lens.
A key feature of double rainbows is that the colour sequence in the second rainbow is reversed, so instead of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROYGBIV), the colours appear in VIBGYOR order. This is caused by light reflecting twice in a raindrop.
The night shot of the stars was very unlike my usual astro images as I was using a lens of 28mm focal length (normally use a 15mm focal length) which does restrict the field of view. However, the main intention of the image was to capture the clarity and luminance of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). I have seldom seen it this clear. The earlier night sky at this time of the year is not conducive to taking Milky Way images, particularly near the core. The Milky Way is low in the western sky not far behind the setting sun. Even the Southern Cross is barely above the horizon, but the LMC with the very bright Canopus star nearby provided the main subject matter. There were also a few remaining clouds from the earlier storm.
The LMC is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It is also the closest galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy at about 162 000 light years away. It is some 14 000 light years in diameter and the structure can be clearly seen with its stellar bar geometrically off-centre. As a bit of trivia – the Milky Way and the LMC are predicted to collide in approximately 2,4 billion years time. Canopus, the second brightest star in the sky after Sirius, is very prominent on the left side of the image. Again the 28mm of focal length accentuates the size of these two objects, but then makes it more difficult to keep the movement of the stars to a minimum during the exposure.
Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L lens @ 28mm on a Gitzo 1548 tripod with RRS ballhead. ISO 6400. 10 secs at f/2