Tag Archives: Astrophotography

Astrophotography Workshop At The Adirondack Public Observatory In Tupper Lake, 19-22 October 2017

Greeting, fellow astrophiles!

This in from several sources recently – announcing the APO 2017 Astrophotography Workshop in Tupper Lake, NY. This year features at least one (and, hopefully, two) of our friends in the Kopernik Astronomical Society. Registration can be done on the official website:


Thursday, October 19, 2017 – 12:30pm to Saturday, October 21, 2017 – 12:30pm

An opportunity to meet, trade secrets and perform astrophotography under the darkest skies in the Eastern USA.

Who should attend?

Simply put: Everyone. Very few astrophotographers, regardless of their level, have access to dark skies. We invite you to take advantage of our location to capture images at your own level. Avoid light pollution with us. Come with your own equipment or use ours to shine with your best images.

The registration fee for the four-day Astrophotography Workshop 2017 is $120.00 per participant, with a 10% discount for APO Members.

Events will occur from October 19 – 22, and will be held at the Roll Off Roof Observatory (178 Big Wolf Rd., Tupper Lake). More details coming soon!

Visit www.TupperLake.com for lodging and dining information.

Call the APO office at (518) 359-3538 for further information about the workshop. The registration fee can be paid using PayPal (which also accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards for payment).

Registration instructions:

* Select your registration fee below: APO Members: $108, non-Members: $120
* Log in to your PayPal account
* After your transaction is complete, you’ll be sent to a registration form to enter your contact information

To register: adirondackpublicobservatory.org/events/Astrophotography-Workshop

Distro Astro 3.0 Is Out – Just In Time For CNY’s Hibernating Observers

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Wintertime CNY amateur astronomy is not for the faint of heart, and certainly no good for those with bad circulation. While many of the very best objects grace the nighttime skies from roughly November to March (I’m talking the primo sights for the Northern hemisphere, including the Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades, and the Orion Nebula), bouts of precipitation mix with often bone-chilling temperatures to keep even the most dedicated observes indoors. I’ve found myself pondering on more than one occasion the price of an atomically-flat all-diamond window that would let me scan the heavens from the comfort of my own living room. An important take-home from Bob Piekiel’s wintertime Baltimore Woods sessions is that, after sunset, the thing heating Marcellus is YOU – if you’re not dressed for an ascent of Mt. Everest, chances are good you’re going to leave early with the knowledge that standing still at night requires a few additional layers of insulation. And even the pros forget – Ryan and I can recall at least one especially frosty session at Baltimore Woods that had us both moving slowly for 3 days after.

That said, you don’t have to spend the Winter months just cleaning your eyepiece case, replacing all your batteries, arguing in a cloudynights.com thread with someone named “Myopic from Minnesota,” and googling for interesting astronomical events in the upcoming year. Instead, you could be learning a bit about computer operating systems, updating your GOTO scope’s database with the absolute latest in near-Earth objects and exoplanets, greatly advancing your astrophotography skills, and making your own darned star charts.

2014nov17_astrodistrowelcomeDistro Astro (www.distroastro.org) is a Linux distribution specifically designed for astronomers of all abilities – and I do mean all abilities. Astronomy is one of those fields where someone needs a program to do A, they write a program for A, and they often make it freely available for anyone else to do A or test B. These developers might be hobbyists wanting to turn Newton’s equations of motion into a learning tool, or might be serious programmers and professional astronomers wanting to process the latest Keck and Hubble data for analysis. The Distro Astro Team has collected some of the best free software across all areas of amateur astronomy and wrapped it up into a Linux distribution that you can install on your “outdoors” computer, giving you a suite of tools that will keep your astro-gears spinning all winter until you step outside for the next Messier Marathon.

Version 3.0 of Distro Astro just came out (November 9th, to be exact) and is available for free download from the distroastro.org website. Instead of re-listing all of the features here, I refer you to the official item list on the distroastro.org website, then a few good intro reviews describing the operating system and suite of programs. If we’ve enough local interest in a walkthrough of Distro Astro, a full *indoors* demonstration might make for a chance to introduce some of the CNY amateur astronomy community to some of the Linux gurus in the Syracuse Innovators Guild (full disclosure – I’m a member of SIG as well and suspect the facilities would be perfect for such a lecture).

And speaking of Distro Astro presentations, CNYO’s own Christopher Schuck just happened to take over one of Stellafane’s lecture spots this past August in order to introduce Distro Astro to just the kind of audience it was developed for. For a quick tour of some of the pick-hits in Distro Astro, I invite you to check out the youtube video of his presentation above.

For another discussion of Astro Distro, check out this video from a Linux group in Perth, Western Australia: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvC5vj74lGE.

If you’ve any questions about getting it all up-and-running, I direct you to either the Distro Astro Facebook Page or to CNYO’s own Facebook Page (the collective know-how on our Facebook Page is probably enough to get new users over any initial humps).

CNYO Observing Log: The Almost-Complete Washout At North Sportsman’s Club, 24 May 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Despite the best efforts of local meteorologists and the Clear Sky Clock, a potentially usable first public session at the North Sportsman’s Club turned into an almost completely observing-free session.


Setup at dusk. Click for a larger view.

The session itself was great for organization. With over 40 people attending (and many holding out for two or more hours in hopes of clearing conditions), parking wasn’t an issue for anyone, no one complained about not being able to find the place (at least among those who showed up!), the switch-over of bulbs to the red light variety was straightforward with attending ladders, the non-DEET bug spray did an admirable job of keeping the mosquitoes away, and we even had power to the scopes for those running plug-in GOTO’s and (in the case of local astrophotographer extraordinary, John Giroux) attempting imaging.


Vega (and most of Lyra) and not much else. Click for a larger view.

The event started with mostly-cloud skies, but pockets were large enough for everyone there to catch brief views of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. Constellations and bright stars came-and-went rapidly, and I’m not sure that anyone caught a Deep Sky object before cloud cover completely ruined the views (with even a hint of drizzle).

And despite the wasted observing session, the event was a success of organization, as we had a good group of attendees that had as much fun talking about scopes and astronomy as they did any other topics that may have come up during the long and, ultimately, fruitless wait. Extra kudos go to John Knittel and Joe Chovan for making the NSC observer-friendly, the NSC for continuing to give us a great spot to observe (from below 10,000 ft. anyway), and Ryan Goodson for still having his massive 27″ New Moon Telescope Dobsonian at the ready “in the event” of observing.


Re-converting the building after teardown. Click for a larger view.

The few of us who stuck it out all evening eventually packed up around 11:30 p.m., returning the North Sportsman’s Club to its original, non-red light condition. Fortunately (sort of), the skies were still cloudy when we finished, so we didn’t have to kick ourselves as we pulled out of the main gate.

We are planning our next session for June 21/22, but we will keep you posted when the official date is locked down. Stay tuned!

CNY Photographer Stephen Shaner Hosting A Class On Astrophotography At LightWork – Sunday, March 2 At Syracuse University

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The following message was forwarded along by Ryan Goodson about a class on astrophotography being held at LightWork by CNY photographer Stephen Shaner. Having purchased a DSLR last year specifically for doing some simple astrophotography, this introductory course sounds to be right up my alley – and I encourage anyone who might not know just how straightforward and fun it can be to set some long exposure shots in your backyard to give this class a look! More information and the registration link can be found on the LightWork website: www.lightwork.org/workshops/

Get directions to the LightWork office below:

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Dear local astronomy enthusiasts:

My name is Stephen Shaner and I want to let you know about an astrophotography workshop I will be conducting on Sunday, March 2 at Syracuse University. This three-hour workshop is aimed at anyone who wants to get started or improve their existing astrophotography skills. We will be discussing the tools and techniques to create a variety of night sky images including: moon and constellation portraits, star trails, planetary imaging, time-lapse video and stunning shots of the Milky Way. We will survey astrophotography software and see how digital photos are processed to bring out the detail and colors of the night sky. There also will be an introduction to long exposure, prime focus astrophotography with a hands-on demonstration of the equipment required to capture amazing deep sky objects, such as nebulae and galaxies.

Current members of local astronomy clubs who want to register for the workshop will receive a discounted Light Work member rate of $25 off the normal non-member rate.

You can find registration info online at www.lightwork.org/workshops or by calling 315-443-2450. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me directly at stephen[at]stephenshaner[dot]com.

And for those wondering just what can be done from CNY with a decent sky and the right equipment, I include a post from our Facebook Group below featuring one of Stephen’s images: The great Orion Nebula (M42):


Hi all. Here’s a small jpg of M42 quickly taken during the last new moon period under the (always perfect) CNY skies.

I’ve received several questions regarding the workshop Ryan was kind enough to post about last week and thought I’d answer them here. In addition to a technical overview and the best ways to get started, we’ll be setting up a complete outfit for guided, long-exposure work with all the various gear required as well as cameras for capturing brighter solar system objects. We’ll demo stacking and processing images (stretching images) plus various tricks, plug-ins and tools for better image control. Also, one big manufacturer is sending a neat piece of astrophoto gear to demo.

Overall, the focus will be on getting great results without spending a fortune!

NASA Space Place – Inventing Astrophotography: Capturing Light Over Time

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in June, 2013.

Poster’s Note 2: Roberts’ “A Selection of Photographs of Stars, Star-clusters and Nebulae” (the book from which the image of M31 is taken) can be read and downloaded in its entirety from archive.org: archive.org/details/selectionofphoto02robeuoft.

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

2013february2_spaceplaceWe know that it’s a vast Universe out there, with our Milky Way representing just one drop in a cosmic ocean filled with hundreds of billions of galaxies. Yet if you’ve ever looked through a telescope with your own eyes, unless that telescope was many feet in diameter, you’ve probably never seen a galaxy’s spiral structure for yourself. In fact, the very closest large galaxy to us ⎯ Andromeda, M31 ⎯ wasn’t discovered to be a spiral until 1888, despite being clearly visible to the naked eye! This crucial discovery wasn’t made at one of the world’s great observatories, with a world-class telescope, or even by a professional astronomer; it was made by a humble amateur to whom we all owe a great scientific debt.

Beginning in 1845, with the unveiling of Lord Rosse’s 6-foot (1.8 m) aperture telescope, several of the nebulae cataloged by Messier, Herschel and others were discovered to contain an internal spiral structure. The extreme light-gathering power afforded by this new telescope allowed us, for the first time, to see these hitherto undiscovered cosmic constructions. But there was another possible path to such a discovery: rather than collecting vast amounts of light through a giant aperture, you could collect it over time, through the newly developed technology of photography. During the latter half of the 19th Century, the application of photography to astronomy allowed us to better understand the Sun’s corona, the spectra of stars, and to discover stellar and nebulous features too faint to be seen with the human eye.

Working initially with a 7-inch refractor that was later upgraded to a 20-inch reflector, amateur astronomer Isaac Roberts pioneered a number of astrophotography techniques in the early 1880s, including “piggybacking,” where his camera/lens system was attached to a larger, equatorially-mounted guide scope, allowing for longer exposure times than ever before. By mounting photographic plates directly at the reflector’s prime focus, he was able to completely avoid the light-loss inherent with secondary mirrors. His first photographs were displayed in 1886, showing vast extensions to the known reaches of nebulosity in the Pleiades star cluster and the Orion Nebula.

But his greatest achievement was this 1888 photograph of the Great Nebula in Andromeda, which we now know to be the first-ever photograph of another galaxy, and the first spiral ever discovered that was oriented closer to edge-on (as opposed to face-on) with respect to us. Over a century later, Andromeda looks practically identical, a testament to the tremendous scales involved when considering galaxies. If you can photograph it, you’ll see for yourself!

Astrophotography has come a long way, as apparent in the Space Place collection of NASA stars and galaxies posters at spaceplace.nasa.gov/posters/#stars.


Caption: Great Nebula in Andromeda, the first-ever photograph of another galaxy. Image credit: Isaac Roberts, taken December 29, 1888, published in A Selection of Photographs of Stars, Star-clusters and Nebulae, Volume II, The Universal Press, London, 1899.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

About NASA Space Place

The goal of the NASA Space Place is “to inform, inspire, and involve children in the excitement of science, technology, and space exploration.” More information is available at their website: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/