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What is Astrophotography?

Astrophotography is the art of taking pictures of the night sky and objects that are out there in the night sky. The scope of astrophotography extends from taking pictures of far away objects with the use of large, expensive telescopes, dedicated astronomy cameras and other specialty equipment to snapping a wide angle photo of the night sky with whatever camera you are holding in your hand. No single type of astrophotography is better that another type. Rather, it is largely dependent on individual preference.

Astrophotography begins to answer the question: "What is out there?"

Why Is It Challenging?

1) Most deep sky objects (Galaxies, Nebulae, etc.) do not show up to the unaided eye. In fact, many of these objects will not show up just visually looking through a telescope. Many deep sky objects are so dim that they will not show up until you collect a significant amount of light over an extended period of time. Fortunately, we have things that do just that; cameras.

2) How do you point your telescope at something you can't see? If an object is too dim to see in real time looking through a telescope, then how can we know our telescope is pointed in the right spot to start taking pictures?

3) If you can't see an object in your telescope, then how do you focus on that object. If the object is not in focus, you will not see it even if you take long term exposures pointed in exactly the correct spot.

4) The sky does not hold still while we point our camera and take a picture. The night sky, and the objects in it, rotates continuously. (Of course in reality the night sky is not rotating; the Earth is rotating, giving the appearance that the sky is moving.) So, in order to take a ten minute exposure, you must track that object, very precisely, as it moves through the night sky. If it wobbles even a little bit during your exposure, it will fuzz out the image and lose detail. So, how do you precisely track a target that you cannot see across the night sky?

I attempt to answer these questions, and many more, across this website and in the instructional videos I post. Again, if you don't care how it's done but just want to enjoy the pictures; that's okay too.

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