Back in the paradise! The Cook Islands were just amazing. Too sad that I had to leave. After that New Zealand is “only” a beautiful country. I still remember the beautiful night sky on 25th/26th August 2014 on Mangaia island, where is almost nobody – just so nice local people and the night sky like this. Mangaia is actually very poor Cook’s island, but it has soul. The people there live in small farms and usually can’t afford even to buy a fuel. But they are so happy, enjoy every small moment of their life and people around the world should learn from them. They help you all the time, take you by motorbike everywhere you need. Just for the chance to meet some stranger. I owe them so much for having time with them and the opportunity to take pictures like this… Especially huge thanks belongs to Taoi Nooroa and his lovely wife Marilyn. Taoi’s such a supportive person and his wife had sympathy for all my unusual demands. Before the night Taoi took me on his motorbike to quiet and dark Mangaia airport, where I spent all the night by photography. I planned to sleep on the airport after finishing some shots, but there were so many things to capture!
The first image I call “Enjoy the calm“. It shows the time of second half of the night, when Orion rised up, above the ocean. You can see a reflections of stars on calm lagoon from the cliff above Mangaia airport. In the middle of the image is the brightest star of night sky – Sirius. On right you see the Large Magellanic cloud, dwarf galaxy close to the southern celestial pole. On the left you find constellation Orion, the Bull and lovely star cluster Pleiades, in maori language Matariki. Purple nebulae are so-called h-alpha regions of faintly shinig hydrogen in the nebulae. In the constellation Bull is faint zodiacal bridge, which continued to the morning column of the zodiacal light a few hours after. Just very far from me in the lagoon (above the big rock in the water) the earlier fishermen started to seek for their eel-traps. The low tide made them go for the haul in the deep night with a torch in their hands. Just imagine that: no noise from close bars, disco parties, no airplane in the sky (Mangaia is far away from almost all flight corridors), no music from a parking car. Just a hum from far and descending ocean. Enjoy the calm… Used Canon 6D, Samyang 24 mm, f2, ISO 8000, 11×15 s panorama, tripod.
The second image, called “Southern Perseid meteor“, shows just the pure beauty of the Mangaia night nature. Two dwarf gallaxies – Magellanic clouds – and a “shooting star” from annual Perseid meteor shower, are just above the cliff of the south-east end of the runway of the Mangaia aiport. Very low above horizon is bright star Canopus from constellation Carina, part of the mystic boat of the Noah. The meteor was really bright and like an unexpected intruder changed this composition to something very spiritual. As people say that Mangaia has soul, this image can confirm that. Used Canon 6D, Sigma 15 mm, f3,5, ISO 6400 – 44×20 s, ISO 10000 – 19×20 s + 1×20 s Perseid meteor; tripod, darkframes applied.
That image shows two dwarf gallaxies and a “shooting star” from annual Perseid meteor shower. Just the thinking that thanks to the opportinity to get the real (not only!) night paradise via Working Holiday NZ was only way, how to get me there again, makes me very sad. From my country it would take more than 4 years to earn same money for this dream like from New Zealand after 4 months hard working on orchards…
Appendix: Last moments on Mangaia in the evening of 26th August were majestic too. Even if the wind was really strong, I couldn’t just stay away and I had too take a last night walk in the island. And I wasn’t dissapointed at all again. Those moments brought me on a cross of two dusty ways and third way was suddenly just up there – the galactic one. I have to officially admit that I have never seen more beautiful sky in my life than here on Mangaia… Used Canon 6D, Samyang 24 mm, f2, ISO 8000, 29×15 s panorama, tripod.