Category Archives: Astrophotography

2016-10-02 The Elephant’s Trunk Nebula IC 1396

20160924_ic1396_2-3I previously imaged this deep space target back in the summer of 2015.  I was using a modified DSLR camera with a camera lens on a basic tracking mount, and not a whole lot of knowledge on what exactly I was doing.  At the time I was quite pleased with the result, although my interpretation of this target was not nearly as appealing as many of the other image I have seen.  This summer I decided that I wanted to upgrade my imaging equipment.  DSLR cameras capture all three color channels (red, green, and blue) at the same time, and give the photographer very little choice over which types of signal he or she wishes to collect.  DSLR cameras are also inherently inefficient at collecting the faint signals that dominate much of the night sky.  After all, Continue reading »

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2016-08-09 The Iris Nebula NGC 7023

I’m not generally one to complain, but I cannot resist mentioning that this summer has been a lousy summer for astronomy.  Until last weekend it had been over two months since we had a truly clear night that coincided with a small crescent or new moon.  We have had many “close to clear” nights, nights that the forecast promised to be clear, when in reality thin layers of high altitude clouds obscured the stars just enough to make imaging impossible.  Last weekend, the streak was broken, and we had three nights back to back where Continue reading »

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2016-07-09 The Sun in Hydrogen Alpha

20160703__stack6__DBE_SAT-Edit-5A couple of months ago I posted a white light image of the Sun captured by using a solar film placed over the front of a camera lens to protect the equipment (and my eyes) from the damaging effects of the suns intense light.  This method works very well for visual observation and basic imaging of sun spots, but does not allow for capturing any of the more dramatic details such as the surface texture, filaments and prominences.  Ever since those first imaging sessions where I shot white light images of the sun I became determined to capture more than these simple sun spot images. Continue reading »

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2016-04-21 The Sun

_20160417_The_Sun_DBE_Final2-3I cannot believe that it has been five months since I have been out with my camera!  The last time I really photographed anything  was back in November when I imaged Messier 33, The Triangulum Galaxy.  Since then, work has gotten in the way of play.  As soon as the Christmas season was over I refocused on the maple sugarwoods, as a strong El Nino not so subtly hinted at a mild winter.  With the chance for early season thaws we had to be ready much earlier than normal, and sure enough our first big sap run came during the first week of February.  With only short periods of down-time, we boiled right through the 15th of April.   I cannot remember a sugaring season where we boiled for ten weeks straight.  Despite the long and intense sugaring season, I Continue reading »

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2015-11-21 The Triangulum Galaxy Messier 33

20151108_M33_CC_HT_HDR_MT_SAT_STARSAT_AWNR_DSE_HTCLIPSAT-2-4This galaxy is quite possibly the most challenging deep space object I have photographed to date.  The actual camera capture was not unlike any other object I have photographed, and it was quite easy to locate and compose.  Achieving optimal exposure duration was not particularly a challenge, and I was able to take images across two nights with 200 and 270 second exposures respectively, with the galaxy prominently displayed in the resulting camera captures.  What made this deep space target so challenging for me, was Continue reading »

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2015-11-07 Astrophotography: The Bubble Nebula NGC 7635

20151104_NGC7635_Bubble_DBE_HT_MT1_SAT-5Get up close and personal.  For the longest time, as a wildlife photographer, I have been striving to get as close to the subject as I can.  I have invested in lenses with long focal lengths to provide me with the ability to “zoom” in, and tried to perfect methods of “sneaking up” to get as close as possible to fill the frame with my subject.  For me it was all about getting that close up portrait where you could, for example, count the hairs on the head of a moose, or discern the details in an eye.  Photographers of many genres are obsessed with getting close, and while there is nothing wrong with this approach, it is easy to forget that a subject is part of the world that surrounds it.  In recent years, as I have matured as a photographer, I have begun to appreciate the environment more, and have been making a conscious effort to include this natural world with my subject.  To me this presentation is more appealing, and while the close up portrait certainly has it’s place, I am more moved by an image when there is environmental context with which to gain perspective.  This same concept applies to astrophotography, where we can  Continue reading »

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2015-09-27 Super Harvest Blood Moon Total Eclipse

20150927155As many of you are aware, last nights total lunar eclipse was a spectacular and extremely rare celestial event.  What made last night’s eclipse particularly unique is that it was the combination of a total eclipse (when the moon is completely eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow as it passes between the sun and the moon), a supermoon (the point in it’s orbit when the moon is closest to the Earth resulting in it’s largest apparent size), and a harvest moon (the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox).  As news agencies the world over have been reporting, Continue reading »

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2015-09-12 Astrophotography: The Great Galaxy Andromeda

20150905_Andromeda_HDR_DBE_CC_HT_NR_MT_SAT_CB-Edit-2-3The night sky is full of amazing objects that unseen by the naked eye come to life with long camera exposures, but very few produce a sense of scale and significance as powerful as that of the Great Galaxy Andromeda.  Spanning three degrees of our night sky, Andromeda is six times wider than our full moon, making it the largest galaxy in apparent size as seen from Earth.  It is the closest large galaxy to the Milky Way, and perhaps one of it’s most remarkable features is that Continue reading »

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2015-08-26 Nightlife of the North Maine Woods

20150808_StarTrails_HT_SAT-Edit-2One of the great benefits of visiting remote areas such as the North Maine Woods, is that there are very few people, allowing you to connect with nature in a way that you simply cannot do when surrounded by the hustle and bustle of civilization.  A side effect of being remote, is that there is a lack of human-made light sources to pollute and drown out the night sky.  Perhaps, it would be better to make the statement that a side effect of a concentrated human population, is that there is an abundance of human-made light causing there to be a diminished view of the night sky.  In the North Maine Woods, there are no light pollution side effects from the street lamps, headlights and yard lights of towns and cities, just as nature intended.  Looking up at the night sky from such a remote location is actually Continue reading »

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2015-07-12 Astrophotography: The Veil Nebula Complex

20150711_The Veil_DBE_CC_HT_NR_SAT_STAR1A few nights ago I was able to enjoy the clearest and darkest skies we have had since mid-April.  It was clear as a bell with minimal atmospheric haze, and only a quarter moon that did not rise until almost 2am. The only detracting elements that I had to contend with was light pollution from nearby Burlington and swarms of ravenous mosquitoes.  I was planning on photographing a part of the sky surrounding the star of Sadr in the constellation of Cygnus, however the skies were Continue reading »

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