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

 

M60 is a huge elliptical galaxy that appears to overlap with smaller nearby spiral galaxy NGC4647. Studies using Hubble Space Telescope data suggest that the two galaxies have only come into contact relatively recently (in cosmological terms) and are just beginning to interact.

M60

M60 and adjacent NGC4647

Studies of M59 have shown that despite is superficially simple appearance it is comprised of a disc, oval and sphere of stars all overlain on each other. Like many elliptical galaxies it has an abundance of globular clusters.

M59

M59 elliptical galaxy.

M58 is one of the brightest members of the Virgo cluster of galaxies.

M58

M58, a barred spiral galaxy

M53 is one of the most distant of the Milk Way's globular clusters. Its stars are mostly first-generation stars with little metal content, aside from a few second generation stars, mostly concentarted near its core.

M53

M53 globular cluster

 

This open cluster in Cassiopeia can be seen through binoculars. Astrophotographers often image it with the nearby Bubble Nebula.

M52

M52 the Cassiopeia Salt and Pepper Cluster