According to an article by National Geographic published on 3 April 2019, Singapore is one of the most light-polluted places on Earth. On a clear night, Singapore residents might be able to count 15-20 stars with the naked eye, which is a very fortunate yield indeed. For this reason, many of us, although enthusiastic about stargazing, are reluctant to purchase a telescope: expensive, nowhere to put it, and worst of all, rendered useless due to light pollution.
A new short documentary, Galactic Paint, proves that astrophotography is indeed possible in Singapore, given the right equipment and techniques. This 3-minute film by documentary filmmaker OKJ gives an introduction to astrophotographer Ivan Bok, who manages to capture incredible images of the universe from his apartment, using a technique known as narrowband imaging combined with the right telescope and astrophotography software.
According to Bok’s website, Hues of Heaven, narrowband imaging requires – in addition to a telescope and mount – a monochrome camera and narrowband filters. These filters are able to isolate light emitted from elements such as hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur (the 3 most commonly-used filters), although others such as a nitrogen filter have been applied to images from the Hubble Space Telescope and its ilk. For each filter, Bok shoots multiple long exposures of 10-30 minutes, and then uses software to combine and process the images. Below are some of Bok’s images, and more can be found at his website: