Why Astrophotography?

17 10 2009

It’s the question I sometimes ask myself. A bit of reflection gives the answer: it’s its multi-disciplinary nature that attracts me to it. It’s not sheer photography, neither it’s sheer astronomy. There’s just a bit of everything. Just to mention some:

– Astronomy: from understanding the movement of the heavenly bodies, celestial sphere coordinate system, to astrophysics, the formation, evolution, and death of stars and galaxies.

– Photography: mastering the camera. How to do focusing. How to select the appropriate exposure. How to post-process. How to make a nice composition. What is light frame, dark frame, offset frame, bias frame. What to do with noise and hot pixels.

– Optics: one needs to be able to a certain degree assess the quality of the telescopes and the issues around it. Should it be a reflector or a refractor or a catadioptric. What is the good focal-to-aperture ratio. How important is magnification. What is chromatic aberration, spherical aberration, astigmatism.

– Mechanics: should it be alt-azimuth or equatorial mounting. What is the principle of tracking. How to balance an equatorial mount. How to polar align. How to guide.

– Computer and software: from automating the image acquisition, autoguiding, and image processing.

This for sure will keep me busy for years to come.

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