Buying Your First Astrophotography Setup? Start Here… kind of

I often wonder if anybody in astronomy forums has had to struggle to figure out how to pay kids’ school fees and the mortgage in the same month, or forgo that pizza order to put gas in the car.

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SNR for Morons and how to Get Your Best Ratio in Light Polluted Skies

Noise mitigation for OSC (One-shot Color) Cameras in polluted skies

We all know that SNR is the Signal to Noise Ratio, and that more signal and less noise is good, right? OK, if you didn’t know that, you do now.

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5 Things Every Astrophotographer Needs

Regardless of your mount, or OTA, or camera, there are things every astrophotgrapher needs to survive. These aren’t equipment related, but something all of us can relate to. If you aren’t into the hobby yourself, and/or don’t know an astrophotographer, you’ll probably think we’re just crazy.

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Why Do We Do This?

Some of us come to this hobby from the world of art and photography, and some come to it from the world of science and astronomy. From there, given enough time, the two worlds unavoidably converge with artists learning science and scientists learning artistic techniques. As we get deeper into the hobby, the purpose and result of the two groups start to meld into something fairly similar. Through nights of frustration and bleary-eyed days at work, we often ask ourselves: Why do we do that to ourselves to do this?

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This is Your Art

The other hobby I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with is cycling. Its freeing, as challenging or easy as you want it to be, therapeutic, and just plain damn fun. I’ve cycled tens of thousands of miles over the years, and commuted over ten miles each way to work in 100 degree heat, and 10 degree chill for ten years. All I did was get on and pedal. Unfortunately, to this day, I have magazines, and blogs, and people who have less than 1000 miles on their legs tell me everything I’m doing is “wrong”. I have the wrong tires, my cadence is off, I can’t seriously be cycling without Lycra and cycling specific socks, can I? Yes, socks are actually a debate in cycling. Throughout the years of cycling, my constant message has been this – get on and pedal. It’s that simple. I’ve been cycling seriously for a couple decades. I follow the laws. I know what is safe might not always be considered “right”, but I know I’m safe. I’m sitting on the seat, moving my feet and the bike is moving. That’s it. That’s cycling. I’m not doing it wrong.

I’m also not taking pictures wrong, either are you.

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Dive into Astrophography Tonight!

The first images I took of the sky were from a point and shoot camera sitting on a stationary tripod. There’s fun to be had with equipment you might already have, but never thought to point at the night sky. That first point and shoot camera was a 2.1MP Fuji Finepix on a rickety tripod (that I still use on occasion). Unfortunately, I’m unable to find those wide-field shots from 12 years ago, but below is a single over-processed 30 second frame from my DSLR on that rickety old tripod taken last September in humid 95 degree heat. This was from when I first started to get back into this, but I’ll be getting back to the data to improve on the processing. The inset is of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy.

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Learning From Mistakes

You will keep learning – if you choose to of course. The key is to use the frustrations of a given night as a learning experience. It sounds so cliché, but sometimes clichés are just true. Take a look below at some of the issues I experienced when I started out and what I learned from them. As I learn more through screw-ups, I’ll grow this list.

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