A love for the night sky…
My name is Trevor Jones and I enjoy observing and photographing the night sky very much. I am an amateur backyard astrophotographer, and I have been practicing and learning new techniques since 2010.
I live in St. Catharines, Ontario with my soon-to-be wife Ashley, and Labrador Retriever/Hound mix, Rudy. My house is located near the center of town, making astrophotography from the backyard challenging due to light pollution. Despite this challenge, I am able to capture some incredible images of our night sky.
My modest photography equipment allows me to capture images of deep-sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. I shoot mostly using a DSLR and telescope, but have also experimented using CCD astronomy cameras. My journey into astrophotography began with a starter DSLR camera kit, a Canon Rebel Xs with an 18-55m kit lens.
Most bios I read about astrophotographers mention that the author had always been interested in space and astronomy, from a young age. My story is a little different in the fact that I didn’t discover my love of astronomy until I was 25 years old.
A Night in my Backyard:
Like many people, the very first step I took was to research and purchase a telescope online. I read countless reviews and visited many astronomy forums to make sure that I had the ultimate “starter” scope. I ended up choosing an Orion 4.5″ Dobsonian Reflector, as it promised the best views my budget could afford.
I was extremely happy with that telescope, and remember that first summer using it. I spent less and less time at the bars, and more time under the stars.
I would set the telescope on a table in the backyard to provide a comfortable viewing position. Then, I would browse through object catalogs on my planetarium and try and locate them manually through the eyepiece.
I still remember my first time seeing the cloud belts of Jupiter, and the Pleiades star cluster. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my experiences with that first telescope were crucial towards nurturing my love for this hobby, and my continued interest.
Astronomy has given me a new appreciation for the natural world around us. The feeling of spending a night under the Milky Way is like no other.
Getting started in Deep-Sky
I progressed my new found hobby further by investing a motorized tracking mount with go-to; The Celestron CG-5. The learning curve into astrophotography was steep for me, but my passion for it was very strong.
This Equatorial mount meant that I could now track the night sky, and start taking long exposure photos through a telescope! One of my first successful deep-sky photos was of the Dumbbell Nebula.
I nearly fainted when I saw the image preview appear on the camera screen.
I researched information constantly, getting the best results from astrophotography forums and chat rooms. By then I was using a used 6″ Meade LXD75 Schmitt-Newtonian I purchased from the local photography store. I also sprung for an Orion 50mm Guide Scope and Meade DSI Pro II CCD Camera to begin autoguiding.
Needless to say, I wasted many clear nights due to technical difficulties. It was at this point that I think the casual astrophotographer would have packed it in.
I was missing out on social activities to fight with all of this technical equipment when astronomy was supposed to provide me with a peaceful release from my busy life as a Creative Director. Nevertheless, I was determined to become an astrophotographer, so I pushed forward.
It was around this time that I was introduced to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Niagara Centre. A local astronomy club about 15 minutes from home. It was there that I met some of the most helpful and knowledgeable astrophotographers I’ve ever met.
My knowledge and understanding of astronomy and photography were now on the fast-track to the level of the other members in the club. I am still a member of RASC Niagara today and hold the position of Webmaster and Newsletter Editor.
I feel obligated to pay-it-forward and share my knowledge on this subject with beginner astrophotographers so that they can experience the joy and satisfaction of this addictive hobby. I still have a lot to learn, and that is half the fun. This blog is an outlet that not only helps others but strengthens my own interest in astronomy.
Thank you so much very stopping by, and taking the time to learn more about me.
Trevor Douglas Jones
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Niagara Centre
Newsletter Editor, Webmaster
If you are interested in learning more about DSLR astrophotography, please visit the resources section of this website to have look at some of the recommended software I use. From there, you can begin reading some of the tutorials or watching them on my YouTube channel. For the most up-to-date information and images, you can also follow AstroBackyard on Facebook.