The winter night sky above the Maulbronn Monastery
HDR-image, Foreground: 1x10s, ISO 200 with Canon 5D MkIII & Sigma Art 20mm 1.4 lens at f2
Sky: 4x60s, ISO 800 with a modified Canon 700D & Sigma Art 20mm 1.4 lens at f2 on a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini Mount
The Maulbronn Monastery:
The Maulbronn Monastery is a 850 years old former Roman Catholic Cistercian Abbey and Protestant seminary located at Maulbronn in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The building-complex is one of the best preserved examples of its kind in Europe.
The monastery was founded in 1147 by 12 monks who travelled from Alsace. The main church was consecrated in 1178 by Arnold, Bishop of Speyer. A number of other buildings followed in the course of the 13th century. The west, east and north cloisters date back to the 14th century, as do most fortifications and the fountain house or lavatorium.
After the Reformation began in the year 1517, Ulrich, Duke of Württemberg, seized the monastery in 1504 later building his hunting lodge and stables there. In 1556, Christoph, Duke of Württemberg, built a Protestant seminary; Johannes Kepler studied there 1586–89. In 1630, the abbey was returned to the Cistercians by force of arms, with Christoph Schaller von Sennheim becoming abbot. This restoration was short-lived, however, as Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden forced the monks to leave again two years later, with a Protestant abbot returning in 1633; the seminary reopened the following year, however the Cistercians under Schaller also returned in 1634. A Protestant abbacy was re-established in 1651, with the seminary reopening five years later. In 1692, the seminarians were removed to safety when Ezéchiel du Mas, Comte de Mélac, torched the school, which remained closed for a decade. The monastery was secularised by Frederick I, King of Württemberg, in the course of the German Mediatisation in 1807, forever removing its political quasi-independence; the seminary merged with that of Bebenhausen the following year, now known as the Evangelical Seminaries of Maulbronn and Blaubeuren.
The monastery, which features prominently in Hermann Hesse's novel Beneath the Wheel, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The justification for the inscription was as follows:
"The Maulbronn complex is the most complete survival of a Cistercian monastic establishment in Europe, in particular because of the survival of its extensive water-management system of reservoirs and channels".
Hesse himself attended the monastery before fleeing in 1891 after a suicide attempt, and a failed attempt to save Hesse from his personal religious crisis by a well-known theologian and faith healer.
The Maulbronn Monastery is a place of several legends, myths, tales and real stories. Because of its near location to our house in Enzberg, we visit the Monastery regularly. I was personally always impressed and inspired by this exceptional location. One of our favourite restaurant the "Klosterkatz" located also in the territory of the Monastery and we stayed therefore sometimes till late night there. During these nights I could also observe the wonderful starry sky above the medieval buildings. Unfortunately because of the strong light pollution in the area I had to wait until now - already owing better cameras, lenses, mounts and softwares - to capture a series of night-scapes and astro-landscapes.
The main building
About the Image:
The presented image is the "premier" of my new astrophotographic travel setup:
The first element is a Sigma 20 mm 1.4 Art lens - borrowed from Jürgen Gulbins, thank you for that! This lens is a perfect instrument for night-scapes as well as astrophotography. Compared to my own Samyang 24 mm 1.4 lens -which is unfortunately not a best example of its kind- the Sigma 20mm does a significantly better job.
The foreground of the image was taken with an unmodified Canon EOS 5D MkIII DSLR camera - again many thanks for J.G.! This professional instrument combined with the Sigma Art lens made landscape astrophotography an easy job. For the background with stars and nebulae I had to go outside the territory of the Monastery where light pollution did not disturbed the objects. I used my astromodified Canon EOS 700D with an Astronomik CLS Filter and again the Sigma 20 mm lens. To allow longer exposures without star-trails I used the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini astrophotographic mount. This is a WLAN controlled, high-precision photographic sky-tracker mount which can be loaded up to 4 kg and is extremely portable. The tracked photos had to be of course aligned with the foreground image to get an authentic result. After about 5-6 hours of postprocessing I could achieve my initial goals: to show an exceptional legendary place with the treasures of the winter night sky.
Identified stellar objects on the Photo:
The Great Orion Nebula
Horsehead and Flame Nebulae
Lambda Orionis Ring
Christmas Tree Nebula
Stars of the Winter Triangle
Stars of the Constellation Orion
The Winter Triangle
The Winter Triangle is an astronomical asterism formed from the three brightest stars of the winter sky: Sirius, Procyon and Betelgeuse. The triangle surrounds most of the faint constellation Monoceros, although it is hardly noticeable to the naked eye.