Equatorial Maba Sky: From Big Dipper to the Southern Cross

Equatorial Maba Beach: From Big Dipper to Southern Cross

Equatorial Maba Beach: From Big Dipper to Southern Cross

Equatorial Maba Beach: From Big Dipper to Southern Cross – annotated

Equatorial Maba Beach: From Big Dipper to Southern Cross – annotated

While staying at Maba village on equatorial Indonesian island Halmahera in this March, I realized one amazing fact. This place with latitude only 40’N, is the best one to capture both of commonly known „pointer“ showing the celestial poles. As the north celestial pole can be found by stars of the Big Dipper (pointing to the star Polaris), the south pole is possible to find by the Southern cross. Check this on annotated image version. Both of these celestial „shapes“ were perfectly visible in the late night of 4th March 2016 from incredibly dark place of the Maba beach, where I was taken by such a nice local citizen Mr. Hardi, followed by his uncle Mr. Haruna. Both of them came on the beach and sat on a log of dry wood, nearby a fading campfire. Apart from both celestial shapes, the sky was enriched by rising center of the Milky Way („Miett“ in local Maba language) with bright „red“ planet Mars and a bit fainter Saturn close to the bright red star Antares in the Scorpius. Strong lights on the right come from the village, partly disturbing view to the southern Milky Way with pink Carina nebula. On the left, the light belongs to far nickel mining company. But not only artificial lights were captured. Red and green „flames“ in the sky are caused by natural atmospheric airglow. Beautiful Mobon Island behind the guys completes this calm but memorable view as a foreground in the Jiko Mobon Gulf (Gulf around Mobon Island). This image was taken during expedition for dramatic total solar eclipse, which occurred a five days later. Used Canon 6D IR Baader modified, Samyang 24 mm, f2.8, ISO 10000, 24×15 seconds panorama from tripod.

I would like to acknowledge support for the eclipse expedition to Indonesia which was provided by NSF grants AGS-1144913 and AGS-1255894, NASA grant NNX13AG11G to PI Shadia R. Habbal of the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, and the use of the local government building in Maba, with help from Xavier Jubier, without whom this image would not have been made possible.