Astrophotography: Sagittarius and the Galaxy

The challenge of learning astrophotography, and photography in general, is two-fold.  There’s the work you do at the eyepiece, requiring you to choose the right settings for the right shot.  Then there’s the work you do at the computer screen, the post-processing and adjustments.  Ultimately the more important one is the camera work.  If you take a bad photograph, no amount of post-processing will help you, even if you are an expert at it.  It’s like the image is the cake, and the processing is the icing.  No matter how much icing you cover it with, a bad cake is...

Astrophotography in 2015

I made a big purchase this year, one that I have wanted to make for a long time.  I bought a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) – A Canon Rebel T3i.  The only reason I did this was for astrophotography.  I like photography in general – the idea of getting the perfect shot, cleaning up an image, enhancing details that were not there before. But after a trip to Europe where I felt I took too many photos, I decided that I didn’t want to experience my life through the lens of a camera, especially in an age where...

One Night with Mars, One with Venus – The Moving Moon

Yesterday I posted some of my own photos of the Moon and Mars in conjunction from the night before.  Last night I went out again knowing that there was another planetary conjunction in the works.  The Moon was now with Venus.  People on the internet and in person were asking me “Mars? I thought the Moon was near Venus,” and “Venus? I thought the Moon was near Mars.”  It really speaks to the fact that most people don’t realize how quickly the sky changes from the point of view of an Earthbound observer.  So what happened between the Mars-Moon and...

Gravitational Lensing and a Supernova Give Insights into Dark Matter

Even I was blown away when I saw this image a friend sent me.  Gravitational lensing is a rare occurrence, and a supernova is a rare occurrence, so to see a supernova in a gravitationally lensed galaxy deep within the universe is exceptional.  So exceptional that it was spotted for the first time ever in a Hubble image of the distant universe. That dot in the image is a single supernova in a very distant galaxy, split into four images by the gravitational lensing of the galaxy cluster in front of it.  But there is also a secondary lensing effect from...

When the Universe Smiles, Smile Back

Image submitted to an image processing competition called ‘Hubble’s Hidden Treasures’ are expected to be amazing, but this is the only one I’ve seen that will make you happier. This cosmic ‘smile’ is in the constellation Ursa Major, and is made up of the light from four galaxies, each with Billions of their own stars.  This is the biggest happy face ever found! The two eyes are very distant galaxies known as SDSSCGB 8842.3 and SDSSCGB 8842.4. So why do we see this ring structure? You might think that the Galaxy is stretched by gravity, but its something much more...