2022 departed with bad weather, and 2023 roared in with even worse weather, bringing waves of storms marching across North America. Sometimes, bad weather brings opportunities to photograph interesting atmospheric sights, but on balance, as an astrophotographer, I’d rather see clear skies!
Articles written by David Kodama
Some months ago, I was excited enough to place a preorder upon hearing of the announcement of Sky-Watcher’s Star Adventurer GTi, the latest in their Star Adventurer series of star trackers. In September, I finally received it and have been checking it out. Let’s see if it has indeed met my expectations.
With long days and shorter nights, summer is a good time to consider getting into solar astrophotography. The Sun is also heading toward the active phase of its 11-year sunspot cycle and promises to make the Sun more interesting than the featureless cueball look of the sunspot cycle minimum. Solar astronomers use the count of visible sunspots as a measure of the solar activity, and sunspot cycle #25, as counted by astronomers, looks like it will be peaking sometime around 2024.
The month of May closes out with a New Moon (moonless sky), to which deep sky astrophotographers always look forward. This month brings a potential bonus of an intense burst of meteors, perfectly timed for North American astrophotographers. In fact, it’s so perfectly timed (for U.S. residents) that it falls on a Monday evening of a U.S. three-day holiday weekend.
If spring has been a mixed bag of poor weather and few targets for you, as it has been for many of us, things are looking up as May rolls in. A total lunar eclipse highlights the list on May 15-16.
Australian Dylan O'Donnell's over-the-top astrophotography adventure videos often introduce us to new equipment. But his "HOTTEST New Astrophotography Products in 2022" video caught my eye. At the very least, it's a bit presumptuous to think that the hottest products come out in the first half of the year!
March brings the Spring equinox, hope for improved weather, and the possibility of a marathon road trip through the sky via the Messier list of astronomical objects. Note: it’s not supposed to be a “messy” list.
Have you ever had to sort through a box of photos, perhaps from your parents’ collection of vacation photos? An all too common question is: “When was this photo taken?”
Creating a 360 VR panorama (also referred to as 360x180 degree panorama) has been an interesting side-challenge to take on for photographers, but in the past few years, it has been simplified to the point where phones, such as the Google Pixel series, make taking a VR panorama practically a point-and-shoot affair. But shooting one of the night sky remains a worthy challenge.
Time flies by. We’re already into February. Have you got your astrophotography planned out for the year? For astrophotographers, knowing what’s up in the sky and planning is the key to getting an interesting shot.
I’m occasionally asked to recommend a camera to get into astrophotography. Of course, my first answer is to use the camera and lenses you already have. Beyond that, it’s difficult to recommend a specific brand and model because I don’t have every camera at my disposal, and we are blessed (cursed?) with a continuous stream of new and improved cameras. Here are some thoughts.
For Northern Hemisphere astrophotographers wanting to try getting into the deep sky (outside our solar system) targets, here are three suggestions to start the Winter season, with the bonus that a stock (unmodified) DSLR or mirrorless camera can be used.
November’s astronomical events led me to plan for a week-long marathon astrophotography session. The catch was that it had to be around the full Moon, normally a frustratingly unproductive time for astrophotographers.
My preferred targets for astrophotography are what we might call transient targets. In this article, I will identify three targets I will be aiming for this winter.
This video from Cuiv, the Lazy Geek, a YouTuber with a popular following in the astrophotography community, brings up some considerations for photographers who are dipping their toes into astrophotography, including broad considerations and commentary on differences and difficulties traditional photographers may find as they explore astrophotography.
Fall tends to be a “transitional” season for the astrophotographer. Summer constellations are still visible for early evening, but are quickly fading into the sunset. Late in the evening, some of the prominent Winter constellations are starting to come into view. In a few months these winter constellations will be high in the sky and well placed for astrophotography, so now is the time to do some planning.
As we transition from summer to fall, two of the most photogenic planets, Jupiter and Saturn, have passed the point of closest approach (opposition) to the Earth for the year. Yet, they still make great targets for planetary astrophotography, especially since they are now high in the sky soon after sunset. As another bonus, photographing these planets does not require traveling to a dark sky site. This kind of astrophotography can be done from our backyards.
Two successful SpaceX missions last week, one on each coast, prompted me to review my rocket launch photo procedures, particularly since the Monday (Sept. 13) launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base was the first after a long hiatus. For those of us in southern California, it was a photo op we were eagerly awaiting since it was scheduled for after sunset.
In a previous article (Easing into Astrophotography with a Telescope), I listed a few resources for stepping up to telescopic astrophotography. Beyond learning the basics of sky navigation and learning to extend your photographic equipment knowledge into long exposures, an introductory overview of astronomy is a good idea so that you are aware of the photographic possibilities available to you and the wide array of equipment that may be needed.
The Perseid Meteor Shower peak has come and gone for 2021. This year the Moon’s interference was minimal, setting early in the evening around the predicted peak days, but luck always plays a major role in anyone’s success.