What’s Great about Astrophotography and Why do you Love it?

I am extremely enthusiastic about astrophotography and many others are too. It’s absolutely necessary to progress in this hobby because we have to stay up late and lose sleep, we have to constantly problem solve and experiment, it takes hours or even several days to finish imaging one object, and then we have to spend time processing to get the final image. So, what do I love so much about astrophotography? In this post, I’ll try to explain why I do this.

I love doing astrophotography because I enjoy the constant challenge of photographing night sky objects that are far away and difficult to image. Astrophotos give me satisfaction and create wonder. I love being outside under the stars. I find astronomy and the Universe awe-inspiring and mysterious.

As you read the reasons I will give for why I love astrophotography, I hope it will inspire you to try it or to continue to improve. I hope you will be able to understand my wonder at the beauty and design behind the amazing deep sky objects in the Universe. I hope you’ll get a sense of the mystery and awe that I feel while doing this and the sense of satisfaction it brings.

Part of the attraction of astrophotography is the creativity needed to process the images. It is art and technology mixed in equal parts. There is also a deep connection I feel with these distant objects and questions inside me that are sparked by the objects I see. Questions naturally arise about the nature of the Universe and our place in it. The possibility of life elsewhere in our galaxy or in distant galaxies. Questions behind the creation of the Universe and much more. This is all part of why I love doing this!

The Challenge of Astrophotography

In terms of photography, I believe that astrophotography is the most difficult because you take photos in the dark of things that are very distant and therefore very faint. Very long exposures and a minimum of movement are required. Specialized equipment is also needed to counteract the movement of the stars in the sky.

Settings in your camera and tripod or mount are critical and monitoring over hours is necessary. There are so many aspects to this kind of photography that require attention to detail and frequent experimentation.

The satisfaction I Feel

It is difficult to describe the satisfaction that is the result of all the hard work that goes into creating the final image. Here below is one of the most recent pictures I have created which I feel is high quality:

California Nebula
California Nebula made from four panels

The above image of the California Nebula took several nights to complete and involved two panels with 5 hours plus each total integration time and two panels with an hour each. Subexposures were 6 minutes and 10 minutes each. The four panels were stacked separately, then put together, and finally, the stacked images were processed in Photoshop. In total, this image was created from approximately 100 photos and includes about 12-13 hours of imaging time.

Find out more about how to process images in Photoshop here.

It is, I think, a nice image and I’m happy with it. There is a great deal of satisfaction when I compare it to my earlier attempts to photograph this deep sky object also known as NGC 1499.

The equipment I used was:

  • Celestron 130slt telescope
  • CEM26 Ioptron EQ mount
  • 60mm guide scope
  • SVbony SV 301 guide camera
  • ZWO ASI533MC PRO
  • ZWO Duoband Filter

The Wonder of Astrophotography

Whenever I show my images to friends or put them on Instagram, people are captivated! Check out my Instagram page for my latest Astro images.

Why Being Under the Stars is so Great

Since taking up this hobby, I have found how much I love to stargaze at night. It is so peaceful and inspiring to look up as Man has done throughout history and wonder what is out there. To be able to photograph a galaxy that is millions of light years away or to capture a beautiful nebula in our own Milky Way is mind-blowing!

I now look forward with excitement and anticipation to each clear night as never before.

Questions that Astrophotography Inspires

Photographing such beautiful and distant objects brings many questions to mind. I often look up and wonder who or what might be out there. The distances between us and the stars are so great, will we ever be able to travel to these distant places in our Universe? What will we find if we do? Are others out there looking for us or do they already know we are here?

Another question I ask myself when imaging some galaxy is how many civilizations might be contained in that galaxy? I know that I am sometimes looking at an image that is 100 million years old or more so what does it look like today? Does it still exist?

Another thing I wonder about is if there are alien astrophotographers far away using equipment to photograph us here in the Milky Way. Is it possible? And if so, what are they thinking?

So many questions unanswered but maybe in the future, we will be able to answer some of these and many more. Who knows?

Since I was a child I loved mysteries and the unexplained. Our technology is enabling us to solve some of these mysteries and ask new questions. The greatest mystery of all, in my opinion, is the creation and purpose of this huge universe. Are we alone, or have aliens been visiting us for thousands of years, maybe they are already here.

My Final Thoughts

I love astrophotography as it helps me to see the beauty and design in the Universe. It helps put everything into perspective. Without astrophotography, or telescopes we would not be able to see any of these wondrous objects out in space. This would mean we wouldn’t have so many questions to answer. What would that mean? I believe we are destined to find answers to these big questions, What or Who created the Universe?

Try astrophotography and it will get you thinking too!

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