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.

Read more

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?

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

What’s the Bare Minimum to Get Started?

What you need to get started

What do you really need to get started? A camera and a tripod. I first became interested in astrophotgraphy after pointing my slightly above average point-and-shoot camera at the sky and setting the timer. If you already have a DSLR and some lenses, you might just be looking for a tracking mount for your camera for a few hundred dollars.

Read more

Easy Astrotortilla Setup & Configuration: Plus Advanced Custom Options Settings

I have since moved on to using Astrophotography Tool and the integrated plate solving using ASPS and PlateSolve2. The information below is still relevant, especially if you’re using BackyardEOS or BackyardNikon, but I find plate solving through APT easier and more reliable.

Read more

Setup Workflow

I found this helpful to create when I was starting out. I found myself missing steps, and having to go backwards time and again. I don’t need checklist every time I go out anymore, but creating something similar yourself will definitely save you some time when your just getting going. It will also help you work out the most efficient way to get through your setup. Here are the steps, in order, that I perform every time I setup for an imaging session. This would be considered a top-level workflow, as each of these steps have steps underneath them. Click on the linked steps to see more detail about each step.

Read more