A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Murray Buckman
Date: 2020 Oct 22, 11:55 -0700
I too "cheated" to get the solution, at least in a way.
As part of my interest in photography I sometimes go to dark places on a dark nights and photograph the Milky Way. I have done this in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Over time I have taken an interest in what I can see in the resulting images.
In the subject image it looked like a band of the Milky Way was running through it. The stars were not immediately obvious to me and I wondered whether the two very bright objects might be planets but, if not, Sirius was one of my guesses as it is a star I am familiar with and I am also familiar with its relationship to the Milky Way. So I had a look through my various Milky Way images.
Most often I shoot the glamourous end of the Milky Way, with all its spendour. But occaisionally I photograph the unfashionable low-rent end of the galaxy. Attached is a photo (8 images, 20 seconds, ISO3200, 14mm f2.8 on a crop sensor Canon 7d Mk2), taken in the wee small hours of February 28, 2017 at about 37 2.4 S 175 17.8 E. It is not great editing - because I don't put much effort into the unspectacular end of the galaxy and this image had both light polution and some pre-dawn light. But Sirius is bright near the horizon and Canopus is prominent on the left.
I turned the SpaceX image upside down and we had a match. The key identifier was the triangle of stars featuring both Sirius and Adhara. From there is was just a matter of checking the neighbourhood for the other navigation stars in the vicinity in the northern hemisphere image. After that, identification was easy.
As an aside, although I have lived most of my adult life in the northern hemisphere, I spent the first 24 years of my life in New Zealand, and learned my celestial navigation and layout of the sky during that period. I still get confused with the northern sky. Part of it is fundamentally unfamiliar to me, and those parts that are familiar are, well, upside down.