I traveled to Mangaia, Cook Islands in July 2010 for the total solar eclipse. On my first clear night in South Pacific, I was out to find clear areas to see the most of the southern skies. I stayed in Oneroa village on the west coast of the rocky island. Oneroa and Mangaia in general has a lush green vegetation. There are not many clear areas where you can see most of the sky. Kimi Nooroa, the owner of the place I stayed for a week, told me about a place called 'Rock Pools', on the western coast of the island and just a kilometer south of Oneroa.
And it turned out to be a good place. Rock Pools is one of the very few places where it is possible to swim in the ocean around Mangaia. Still, it is barely possible to find places deeper than 2 meters and it might not be the best idea to swim around razor sharp rocks when it is high tide and waves get strong. The twilight lasts short and it gets dark pretty quick in the tropics, so there is a very short window good colours before twilight fades.
After it got truly dark, I took a wide angle panorama of the southern sky from the Rock Pools. As I had a more open view of the sky, LMC and SMC were still visible, just over the ocean. And it gets really dark in Mangaia, as there are nearly no sources of light pollution around in this island, home of only 500 people. With longer exposures in the dark, I was able to get some colour and texture even under water. Surf and breaking waves on the coral reefs caused the light colours on the surface of the ocean. Where, the next land due south is Antarctica.
To get this wide view of the southern sky, I took 9 pictures to form a 3x3 matrix and an additional exposure for the top right corner in case, which it turned out I needed anyway. I used 3 more longer exposures of the immediate foreground, thus a total of 13 pictures to construct this panorama. I used a Hutech-modified Canon EOS 5D camera at ISO 1600 and a 24 mm f/1.4 lens on a wooden, manual equatorial drive. The ten pictures showing the sky are all 30-second exposures. I used a diffuser filter for about half of each exposure to bring out the brightnesses of the stars. For the bottom three pictures, the exposures were 60 seconds each to bring out the details in the foreground. I used PtGui Pro to make the panorama and then made further adjustments with Adobe Photoshop to obtain this final result.