The report of the 2011 expedition to observe the Southern sky, at Tivoli Farm, Namibia
by Lorenzo Comolli

Expedition by L.Comolli, L. Fontana, G. Ghioldi, E. Sordini, M. Cardin

Ten nights in heaven. This can quickly summarize the experience that I've lived in my first trip to Namibia, with the only goal to observe and image the night sky. Four friends of mine and I (Lorenzo Comolli, Luigi Fontana, Giosuè Ghioldi, Emmanuele Sordini and Marco Cardin) moved to Tivoli Farm for ten nights under the Southern sky, from 24 August to 3 September 2011.

Tivoli Farm is located nearly exactly on the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23° South (website, google map). Over there the ground is completely flat and the environment is a kind of dry Savanna, on the Western edge of the Kalahari desert. The Schreiber family, owner of the farm, gave us a wonderful hospitality, and we immediately realized that our holiday was going to become a true dream.

Our target was double: observe and image the Southern sky. For us this was the first time down under, except Marco. Luigi, Giosuè, Emmanuele, and I were "armed" with a lot of cameras: 8 DSLR, 5 of them were modified, and of these 3 were full frame cameras. We carried also two telescopes: a Takahashi FS-152 and a Pentax 75, both are apochromatic refractors. We carried also a Kenko NES tracking mount, many tripods and accessories. We rented an observatory (Fornax 51) and a G11 mount.
Marco carried no cameras at all! His target was to visually observe the sky with the large 50 cm dobsonian telescope. But also the photographers friends were enchanted by the views that only a truly perfect dark sky can give. All together we rented a Fujinon 25x150 binocular that gathered unbelievable views.

Here below you can find some of the photographic results. But the best "results" will securely stay in our hearts for all the life. Let me know any feedback:
comolli@libero.it .

Sunset on the dunes.

Under the Namibian Sky - The Movie

The night sky of Namibia is one of the best in the world. This 13 min video contains about 250 hours of actual exposures, gathered at Tivoli Farm, Namibia, during 10 perfectly cloudless nights. We hope this video will take you on the field and maybe you'll feel a bit of that enchanting sky.
Options: Youtube - MP4 H264
Image processing and video editing: L. Comolli. Images by L. Comolli, L. Fontana, G. Ghioldi, E. Sordini.
Deep sky images
The quantity of gathered images is incredible! About 100 fields were imaged with exposures of about 2 to 4 hours, using three tracking mounts. While the imaging task was a lot of work, the processing revealed even harder, and now only a few images were fully processed and published.
In this gallery you can find some of them: Namibia 2011 Gallery.
Image processing: L. Comolli. Images by L. Comolli, L. Fontana, G. Ghioldi, E. Sordini.
Article: environmental measurements, climate and dark sky

This detailed article explains the environmental and dark sky measurements made during our Namibian stay. You'll understand what is a perfect forecast, what is a SQM 22.2 night sky, .and which are the problems under such a dream sky.
Daytime images

Deserts, telescopes and much more! Picasa album with 226 shots.
Images by Lorenzo Comolli.
Night-time images

The shot at left has been taken with a regular Canon 550D camera, 30 s exposure, and has not been modified in any way. We were illuminated by a small white lamp. To look at images like this, click on the image and you'll get a Picasa album with 33 shots.
Images by L. Comolli, L. Fontana, G. Ghioldi, E. Sordini.


They say:

HTML Editing and Publishing by Lorenzo Comolli. Email me at comolli@libero.it.
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