How Astrophotography Took Over My Life
My life revolves around the weather forecast. Call it dedication, or just plain sad — everything I do relies on a clear night sky. During the week of new moon, the pressure to produce deep sky photos increases.
A typical deep sky astrophotography session involves setting up my Equatorial mount, telescope and DSLR camera. The the telescope or filters I use will depend on the target and current imaging conditions.
For example, when the moon is out, I’ll usually capture photos of a nebula that includes strong wavelengths of hydrogen-alpha light. This can either produce an impressive greyscale image on it’s own, or be blended with color images later.
The basic idea is to capture as many exposures as possible on a deep sky target such as a nebula or galaxy. The images are tracked on the telescope mount to compensate for the rotation of the Earth. A typical astrophoto will include over 3 hours worth of exposure time.
An Astrophotography Setup
The euqipment I use to photograph objects in space has evolved over the years in an on-going quest for better images. There are many tools that come into play when photographing objects in space that are thousands of light years away.
An autoguding system that includes a small telescope and an additional camera will allow you to capture sharper images of up to 5 minutes in length or more.
Software is used to automate the imaging session to streamline the process, and produce consistant results. I use an application called Astro Photography Tool to set my camera to take a series of long exposure images.
What my family and friends think
My wife and dog (Rudolph) are quite accustomed to me spending hours outside in the dark. Ashley supports my hobby and understands the committment involved in creating beautiful images.
Rudy has mixed feelings about the process. In the summer, he enjoys spending time with me outside and will often curl up next to my telescope. In the winter months, he seems to resent the fact that I keep opening the back door and letting a cold draft in (near his bed).
My friends also support this journey, although they certainly wish that I would skip a few more imaging sessions to spend time with them. We have found some middle ground by spending time together in my backyard while the camera is running.
Sharing my knowledge
I started a YouTube Channel to share my knowledge about astrophotography with the world. The videos are usually filmed from the backyard and contain helpful tips about photographing objects in space with a camera and telescope.