Images representing different hobbies

Astrophotography

You are never too old to learn, and one of the thing that has opened my eyes  has been discovering the quality of astronomical images that can be produced by amateurs with very modest equipment. By using digital cameras and image processing software it's a realistic ambition to produce images that compare favourably with those produced by the world's biggest telescopes fifty years ago - right in your back yard!

This website does not showcase the best astronomical pictures on the internet! It's a selection of pictures I have taken myself with basic equipment and free software. Producing images like these below, or even better ones, is within your reach!

Most importantly, you don't have to spend a fortune. My first serious scope, mount and tripod cost £180 on Ebay. I spent £40 on a more solid tripod, and about £200 on various bits and pieces including books and an ancient Canon EOS DSLR and a seconhand Microsoft HD Webcam. The results shown before are  some of my best so far, and will be updated from time to time.

Perhaps the easiest target in the sky is the moon. You can get good pictures with any long or zoom lens, this is a 'stack' of six pictures taken with an ordinary bridge camera:

A Gibbous Moon photographed over thr Isle of Skye in near-poerfect seeing conditions

A gibbous moon photographed on the isle of Skye.

Follow the links below for introductions to some of the other things you can image in the night sky:

The Moon

The Sun

The Planets

Messier Objects

Star Clusters

Nebulae

Galaxies

Constellations

Meteors

Have a go!

I hope I have convinced you to have a go at photographing the night sky - these photos may not hold a candle to some of the work of professionals like Damian Peach or even dedicated amateurs, but I hope you are surprised what can be done with kit that has cost me well under £500.

There are lots of places to find out more on line, but perhaps the easiest place to start is the StargazersLounge webiste.

As well as the subjects covered above there are all sorts of other things to look out for - comets, asteroids, meteors, aurorae, noctilucent clouds and various metereological effects such as sundogs and lunar halos. And sometimes there are just picturesque events such as this near conjunction of the Moon and Venus.

Conjunction of Moon and Venus seen ona slightly misty night, with teh moon partly behind trees

A Conjunction of Moon and Venus

 

M9 is one of the closest globular clusters to the centre of the Milky Way. It is bright enough to be easily seen in  small telescopes.

M9

M9, globular cluster in Ophiuchus

M14 is a bright globular cluster that can be seen with binoculars. It contains several hundred thnousand stars.

M14

M14, globular cluster in Ophiuchus

M18 is a sparse open cluster of stars calculated to be 33 million years old. It si in a 27 million year orbit of the milky way, so it has only completed one circuit.

M18 open cluster

M18 - open cluster in Sagittarius.

M80 is a globular cluster in the constellation of Scorpius. It contains a relatively high proportion of 'blue straggler' stars.

M80 Globular cluster

M80, globular cluster in Scorpius. This mono image is just two 1-minute exposures with a red filter.

M107 is a rather loose and faint globular cluster, over 20,000 light years from Earth. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain and added to Messiers list in 1947 by Helen Hogg.

M107

M107, globular cluster in Ophiuchus.