Views of the Milky Way from Brunei

By Hazarry HAA


Let me tell you a secret – taking photographs of the milky way is not that hard as you might think. What will you need is a perfect clear night sky and of course a camera. But what is the most difficult nowadays is to find a perfect spot free of light pollutions.

Yes, with some luck and by chance, I managed to take some photos of the milky way in this country, Brunei Darussalam, early in the morning right after we celebrated the first Astronomy Day in Brunei. The sky was so so starry and I was so amazed by the very bright milky way stretching across the heavens.

Where about? If you drive along pantai Seri Kenangan, between kampong Sengkarai and kampong Kuala Tutong, on the beach you will be amazed it to be a perfect darkness – completely free from streetlights and lampposts (and I hope let it be that way, I beg β€œplease Department of JKR do not plug any more lights”). However, I have noticed that there are cars now and then passing by along it even at early dawn. That might disturb your photos but it can be minimize by using a shade placed in front of the camera lens.

I am using my Canon EOS 350D with a sigma lens (set to 24mm). At night, auto focus will not be possible since the sky is very dark. So set your camera to manual focus. The trouble is, looking through the viewfinder might be very difficult to focus the stars, so I suggest you to find a very bright stars or planets to guide in focusing. You will notice that, you will use most of the time setting your lens to infinity.IMG_3824

The camera should be placed on a tripod and using a cable release bulb so as to minimize your camera from shaking. Again, you will have to set your camera to manual mode. I tried to set about aperture about f/6 and varies the exposure. Be careful that the longer exposure will cause the star trailing and too fast will only record very bright points in the sky.

So try varying your exposures!!!

“Full of surprises”. If your are lucky, sometimes you even capture trails of man-made satellite and even very bright meteors. Look at this photo, there is a trail of a satellite – I don’t think it was a plane, since if it is, then the track would be red since all planes transmit light of red beam.

Bear in mind that to get good photos of the heaven will required a guided astrophotography technique by means of attaching your camera to a motorized tripod, that is keep the view locked with celestial movement.

I heard that other than Seri Kenangan Beach, another dark spot you can uncover in this country is along the road to Merimbun lake, but it is located in the rural district of Tutong. Astronomy is very full of excitements.

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