When I traveled to see the total solar eclipse of 11th July 2010, I stayed in Oneroa village on the west coast of Mangaia, Cook Islands. On my first clear night in South Pacific, 7th July 2010, I was out to find clear areas to see the most of the southern skies. Oneroa and Mangaia in general has a lush green vegetation. There are not many clear areas where you can see most of the sky. This is how the sky looked from a relatively open area just outside Oneroa village.
Until a week before that night, I had never seen half of the sky in this 3x3 panorama. The brighter stars along the southern Milky Way can easily be picked out. I did not use a diffusion filter (which I normally do); the effects are all natural thanks to hot and humid tropical weather. I used a Hutech modified Canon EOS 5D at ISO 1600 and a 24 mm f/1.4 lens at f/2 to shoot nine 30-second exposures that made this panorama. I constructed the composite with PtGui Pro and made the finishing touches with Adobe Photoshop.
** Winner in Earth & Space category of Royal Museums Greenwich
Astronomy Photographer Of The Year contest, 2011 edition: