I added four new shots to my astrophoto gallery this week.
The end of August is a superb time for star gazing in Torrey. The night gets started at a reasonable hour, the monsoon season has largely ended, the skies are often clear, and most unusual, the wind is light to none. I switched from my higher power Celestron C8 telescope to the wider field Stellarvue ST80 in order to get some of the nebulae in the Milky Way before it has moved too far west for the season. I have probably missed the chance to shoot into the heart of Scorpius where nebulae abound. Wei-Hao Wang is one of the best amateur astro-photogaphers out there and you can be see his masterpiece of that region here. The summer went by fast. Acquiring objects requires the convergence of me being in Torrey, no clouds, no moon, and the free time to stay up late. I missed out in June and July.
I have been thinking about the why of amateur astrophotography. I may just be wondering about the why of a hobby. The equipment I have, and that I am going to be getting much more of from my father, is an asset and I wonder how to best put it to work. I wonder what my objective is. Wei-Hao’s work at the link above is one he put hundreds of hours into. Why does he do it? The fact that I grabbed three objects on three nights belies my tendency for quantity over quality. I have been out to bag objects and have done so for most of the major objects. Next would be to try and get more quality by taking longer shots over more nights. Or, find more obscure objects that are interesting but less sensational. Or, next what? I am not inspired to try and get awards or any particular recognition. Is there something I can do to promote the dark skies around Torrey and next to Capitol Reef National Park with its recent Gold Tier dark-sky designation? My set up, and my father’s that is coming to Torrey, are currently about photography and do not make for a spectator sport. Maybe there is something I can do to add an observing component, for star parties? For education?
Being out alone for long nights under the starry canopy can feel like being the only diner at a huge banquet.
Author and astronomer Chet Raymo says star gazing is one half observation and one half imagination. Maybe there is something about observatory domes and telescopes with the Milky Way arcing overhead that stimulates the imagination. Just gathering a few folks on a starry night and looking at an object or two might be memorable. It would be nice (productive) if I could stimulate a meaningful sense of dark sky conservation in someone(s) of influence.