Gordons Astronomy

Being an Amateur

Being an amateur means you probably own your own telescope... whatever brand it is. And admitting you're an amateur means you want to know more about the universe and the stuff thats up there! I know I do! But I want to record it in Pictures! Besides, it's easier to look at pictures than it is to learn averted vision and barely see the subject. Much of the stuff to look at is very small and very very dim to look at, so a picture makes it better. So this is the reason I want to take pictures of the objects I see. I own:

A Meade 8" Telescope

Meade ETX 125 Telescope

Meade ETX 60 Telescope

8 eyepieces

Field reducer


An iBook computer

iPhoto Software

Photoshop Software

Canon Digital Rebel EOS SLR camera

Canon handheld Bulb camera controller

iBook G4 computer

TV type folding table

Astro chair

And you'll probably have to spend a lot of time getting familiar with the software. It's not hard to learn how to use the scope.. you just put it together at night and learn to do a drift alignment. But you'll need to know how to use Photoshop (which seems like a life long project). And you'll probably have a favorite type of object to look at whether its a Galaxy, Nebula, Cluster or Solar system planet. To take pictures, you'll also have to own a camera (whether its an SLR or an astro imaging device like Meade's DSI). It's up to you whether you want a SLR which you can use at all times or a more specialized camera which can only be used on the telescope. I opted for an SLR. But, it's up to you.

Add to this list a nice warm coat to stay warm on cool nights. I like my coat! It's not much for looks, but it sure keeps me WARM! And the astro chair makes it comfortable at night for periods of looking thru the eyepiece. But I spend very little time actually looking thru the eyepiece.. I'd rather take a 2 minute photo and download it into the computer and then spend a lot of time working with the image in Photoshop and keeping it in a folder on the computer.

Here's my setup for observations:

Before I take any pictures, I look at the sky to make sure it's clear. Then I turn on the scope.. and do an alignment (EASY ALIGNMENT). I used to do a 2 star alignment but I found that an EASY alignment works better for me. Then, I check my drift alignment. If thats good, I take a picture to check the focus and make adjustments, if necessary. THEN I can go to an object and take a picture. I check it's quality first. If it's good, I save it or e-mail it to my home computer (inside the house, from outside in my backyard). There it is received and worked in Photoshop the best I can. For really good pictures, I go to the star party and take some. It's always good sky conditions there! Nice dark skies.. no light pollution at all!

Here's my POD! The telescope is inside.