Images - Instruction - Articles - Equipment
About "All About Astro"...
Recently I have been focused on building observatories and attempting to change the way astronomy is taught in schools. However, what you see here is a site that showcases my past astrophotography. But you can also gain some knowledge on how you too can shoot the stars!
If you are here to try the latter, what you will discover in this wonderful, demanding hobby is that all the failures combine to make you a better imager. In essence, like an Apollo 13 mission, it will be the successful failures that make all the difference. Whereas Apollo has its faulty oxygen tank, we have our fogging of the CCD chamber window. While our struggle to find a guide-star is not as life-endangering as their compromised heat-shield, we need to experience some difficulties in order to appreciate what the hobby is all about.
It is about adventure and perseverance and passion. It is about learning and struggling and improving. But above all else, astroimaging is all about meeting every challenge in a complex, unpredictable hobby that burdens us with a substantial learning-curve.
Therefore, the challenge of a good website about astro-imaging becomes organizing the information in a way that is logical, yet cohesive; organized, yet complete. But it is also about maintaining a balance between beginner and expert, giving a steady diet of meat and potatoes without letting the beginner know he is overeating.
In that light, I will not refrain from giving opinions on this site, particularly if I know a method, philosophy, or technique will provide the visitor with a time-saving, or money-saving, approach.
In my time as a teacher and presenter of CCD topics and hands-on astronomy workshops, particularly to beginners, I've learned that I cannot take the approach of, "What questions do you have and let's see if I can answer them?" The reality is that, in this terrifically and terribly difficult hobby, what is likely holding you back is that you have no earthly idea of what questions to ask!
So I suspect that if you've found your way here, you also want a little, "Jay, tell us what we need to know - and when."
This is the key reason why, for the most part, All About Astro.com will attempt to teach the hobby from the macro perspective, focusing more on the overall concepts as opposed to giving the reader a myopic "getting started" or "step-by-step" guide.
But there are a couple of other reasons to express the hobby in such a way. First, the number of hardware and software options available to the hobbyist does not permit individual tutorials on specific software and hardware without also alienating the reader who has a different set of tools, or promoting only my favorite tools - I will do some of that, but only because I feel the tools are that good. Second, teaching what to do in this hobby, in the long-run, will not be as effective as teaching why . The person who understands the concepts and philosophies will soon be able to make decisions outside the scope of this website This will lead to an understanding that promotes both innovation in methodology, techniques, and tools, making it more likely that the imager will be able to contribute back to the astroimaging community at large.
Regardless of the reason you are in the hobby or the goals you hope to achieve, the problem with being a beginner is that we spend most of our time trying to figure out what questions we need to ask. Whereas there are many resources that can teach the hobby, I have found that too many of them leave me desiring for more, and more often than not, they leave us with apprehension about what is next.
Therefore this website not only showcases some fine astrophotography, but will help you learn how to do the same. It will attempt to tell you what questions you need to ask and when you need to ask them. This way, you can research your inquiries, perhaps beginning with this website and finishing in the laboratory of experience. But in the end, as comprehensive as you might find the information contained herein, it is my desire that the new All About Astro.com will prove authoritative, not because some guy like me wrote it, but rather because you find success in the methods contained on these pages.
Give a person a fish, and he feeds for a day...teach a person to fish, and...well...you get it. Pithy saying, but applicable.
TEXAS IMAGING SYMPOSIUM - Texas Star Party 2014: "Photoshop Workflows"
NEAIC (North East Astro Imaging Conference) - Suffern, NY, April 10-11, 2014: "Introduction to Astro-Imaging"
FORT WORTH ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY - General Meeting Speaker - January 21, 2014 - "Astro-Imaging Tricks of the Trade"
TEXAS IMAGING SYMPOSIUM - Texas Star Party 2013: "Space is a Landscape"
2017 Eclipse Images
I had the enormous treat of seeing the greatest thing my eyes have ever witnessed when I traveled to Hopkinsville, Ky, to witness this year's total solar eclipse. Wow!
While I cannot properly express, by words or by pictures, exactly the grandeur that I saw, I can share you some images I took of the event.
Hope you enjoy them!
Corona with Earthshine - An HDR composite image of 9 individual frames ranging from 1/3200 to 2 seconds each. The spectacle of the solar corona, which is a visual naked-eye phenomenon, is shown here with a moon exhibiting "earthshine," which is reflected sunlight from the earth's surface illuminating the moon. This is a phenomenon that is not visible during the eclipse, but does show up in longer exposures. Here, I have attempted to show how much "shine" is actually taking place.
Approaching Totality - As the moon slowly encroaches upon the sun's light, the anticipation becomes increasingly more palpable. Here, perhaps 10 minutes into the event, the moon is only getting started! Taken through 3RF's hydrogen-alpha filtered telescope, the sun is showing it's pretty face and prominences as they appeared on that day.
12.5" RCOS Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain
17" Planewave CDK
Software Bisque Paramount ME and ME2
4" Takahashi FSQ-106 Apochromatic Refractor
6" Takahashi TOA-150 Apochromatic Refractor
Astro-physics AP900 mount
Takahashi NJP mount
FLI FL-16803 camera
Nikon D810A DSLR camera
SBIG STL-6303E astro CCD camera
SBIG STL-11000M astro CCD camera