Under The Stars | Astronomy Experiences under the Wairarapa's Dark Sky Under The Stars Astronomy Experiences under the Wairarapa’s Dark Sky | Under The Stars


Chris Murphy - Last Quarter Photography

Chris is a Wairarapa local and Wellington born photographer specialising in astrophotography and Astro-timelapse. He has been doing photography since 2002, shooting on film cameras and has been fascinated by astronomy since 1986 when seeing Halley’s comet. In 2015, astrophotography became more than just a hobby when he moved to Lake Tekapo to work as an astrophotographer for Earth & Sky (now Dark Sky Project) at Mt John Observatory. The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve was a great place to develop skills in astrophotography. Some of the images here are from his time living in Tekapo. While there, he had ideas of moving home and getting involved with the emerging astronomy scene in Wairarapa. Chris moved back to Wellington at the end of 2019 and now lives in Martinborough as the director and head guide of Under The Stars, continuing his passion for taking photographs of the night sky in the newly created Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve.

Matariki Tahi Buy a print Matariki Tahi

The star cluster known in Aotearoa as Matariki, rises above a mountain peak as seen from the riverbed of the Godley Valley, north of Lake Tekapo.

Sky Bridge II Buy a print Sky Bridge II

A beautiful coastal feature of Wairarapa displaying layered rocks stacked over eons, surpassed in age by the stars of the milky way with its core rising over the sea.

Skyfall Buy a print Skyfall

The milky way core sets behind a frozen waterfall of the Godley Valley. A light fog over the mountains appears to enlarge the bright stars and gives the sense of an approaching blizzard. This image was shortlisted in The Astronomy Photographer Of The Year awards run by Greenwich Observatory of London, one of the foremost astrophotography competitions in the world.

The Aoraki Show Buy a print The Aoraki Show

A vertical panorama of the milky way core stretching overhead beyond Aoraki - Mt Cook. This image was taken in the middle of winter in -10 degrees celcius on a perfectly clear, calm night.

Coastal Stairways Buy a print Coastal Stairways

This image won the best newcomer award in the Astronomy Photographer Of The Year competition 2014 by the Greenwich Observatory of London, one of the foremost astrophotography competitions in the world. It was taken on the east coast of Wairarapa with the milky way core setting to the southwest.

Jewels of The Southern Sky Buy a print Jewels of The Southern Sky

This image was taken from Castlepoint on the east coast of Wairarapa. Outside the small beach village it's a 'Bortle 1' area which means it's the darkest class on the Bortle scale measuring sky brightness. This is a wide field image taken using an 85mm lens and a star tracker to allow longer exposures. It contains many prominent features of the southern sky such as The Southern Cross, Jewel Box Cluster, Carina Nebula and Coalsack Nebula. As well as millions of stars of the milky way.

Ōnoke Sunset Buy a print Ōnoke Sunset

Ōnoke (Lake Ferry) lies at the southern coast of the Wairarapa region and spills directly into the ocean. At times in the past it has been isolated as an inland lake. This photo was taken looking south towards the lake and southern Rēmutaka ranges. With the sun setting southwest in summer, it is a great site for viewing some spectacular sunsets.

Layers Of Time Buy a print Layers Of Time

The layers of this wave shaped stack of stone on the Wairarapa coast suggest eons of time passing while the earth orbits the milky way centre, 25000 light years in the background.

Glendhu Dusk Buy a print Glendhu Dusk

The wild east coast of Wairarapa is rarely calm. Even on days of no wind, the swells can still create crashing waves on the layered rocks. On this day there was barely a breath of wind and sea fog was starting to settle over the beach creating an eerie soft sunset light.

Tekapo Saddle Tekapo Saddle Buy a print

This image won the landscape category of New Zealand Geographic Photographer Of The Year Awards 2018. It features Tekapo Saddle, of the Two Thumb Range of mountains to the east of Lake Tekapo. A phenomenon which usually occurs under clear skies, this image was taken under moonlight after a snow storm. A two-minute exposure at 135mm.