Catching Up

Yes, it’s catch up time starting with this reminder – keep looking up!

As an astrophotographer – amateurish as I may be, I often forget those words. I’m far too engrossed in staring at my computer screen. I’m computing all day. Work, web, emails and spreadsheets. Fortunately, my distain for cell phones (mostly) spares me from that technological, privacy-invading disaster that tethers you, oh dear reader!

Ah, but there’s always Adirondack stargazing on warm summer nights to set me free.

I get out there and enjoy the night air and sky. But what’s this you say? You caught me staring at a laptop! You’re right – what am I doing? That’s a sickness, just sick! I’m so ashamed!

But I’m trying to recover. Last night – a beautiful dark summer night in June, I managed to tear myself away from the laptop for a solid two hours (once things were setup). I had the camera, Raspberry Pi running Astroberry (A Pi astronomy package), the telescope – all set to take a hundred exposures of the Pinwheel Galaxy.

And then I looked up with my own biological binocular cameras. The awesome lane of milky stars was in fact – awesome. I walked around the cemetery, and then lay on the picnic table bench, just staring up. Eventually – night adaptation took over and I could finally see. I refused to look back at the computer or camera screens. All the while my camera snapping away in the background. I could hear it but wouldn’t look. Every 34 seconds. 30 seconds – expose, 4 seconds – download, 30 seconds – expose… over and over. The technology did it’s thing and left just me and the stars.

Enough of that. Back to the blog. The 100 exposures yielded images so buried in the noise as to be unrecognizable. But next day back at the computer (oh no, I’m sick! Sick, sick, sick!)…I processed them with Siril (software) and was able to pull out this from my old Canon DSLR camera.

The Pinwheel Galaxy – M101. A stack of 95, 30-second exposures at 1600 ISO

Yes it’s still noisy, but I’m quite pleased with the detail in this shot. The PHD2 auto-guider that is part of my Astroberry setup has been working flawlessly, keeping the stars round in my wedge-mounted CPC-800 telescope. (And they said I needed a German Equatorial Mount!). I’ll keep working at it. I am the neophyte astronomer, after all!

I saw shooting stars. I heard the coyote calls. I breathed the night air…and I gazed at the Milky Way. Wow. And yikes! It’s 1:00 AM. I’d better go home.

4 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Hey Dave, great read! Being a fellow blogger myself, I also really appreciate how organized and well-formatted everything was – it definitely made the content much more digestible overall. Keep up the awesome work!


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