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Why I Built a Backyard Observatory

|Blog Updates|13 Comments

In this article, I'll explain why I built a backyard observatory, and how the entire project took shape this spring. Officially named "Black Dog Observatory" this structure will become the epicenter of my astrophotography operations in the backyard.  Below, is a photo of me standing in my new SkySked POD XL5 observatory. I expect many memorable nights in the observatory this summer.  My backyard observatory After 10 years of setting up my camera and telescope for astrophotography each night, I finally have a permanent setup to photograph the night sky. Because the base of t…

Photographing the Sunflower Galaxy

|Galaxies|4 Comments

In this post, I will share the techniques and equipment I used to take a picture of the stunning Sunflower Galaxy. With the world largely shut down for me, deep-space astrophotography in the backyard has been a welcome escape.  Cataloged as Messier 63, this stunning galaxy is about 25 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici. The months of April and May are the perfect time to photograph M63 from mid-northern latitudes. You can also watch the video of this process on my YouTube channel: Photographing the Sunflower Galaxy The spring season is nickna…

light pollution

Light Pollution is Ruining Our Night Sky

|light pollution|6 Comments

Have you ever looked at a brightly lit building or street light in your neighborhood and thought it was excessive? You know, light shining in all directions or perhaps in your bedroom window, rather than only lighting up the intended area. That is light pollution.  Light pollution is misdirected excess/obtrusive outdoor artificial light in a night environment. Too much light pollution washes out the night sky, interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, wastes energy, and has adverse health effects. Urban towns, cities, and suburbs are known for their excessive light.…

ZWO ASI2600MM Pro Overview

ZWO ASI2600MM First Impressions

|Equipment|11 Comments

The ZWO ASI2600MM Pro mono is the much anticipated monochrome version of ZWO's popular ZWO ASI2600MC Pro dedicated astronomy camera. It houses a 26 Megapixel Sony IMX571 back-illuminated sensor, and some seriously impressive specs. This camera uses a highly sensitive, cooled, monochrome CMOS sensor in the APS-C format. The size and resolution of this sensor is its biggest selling feature. The ZWO ASI2600MM Pro not only improves on nearly every aspect of its predecessor (the ASI1600MM), the sensor is now APS-C, capturing a larger field of view. In the land of deep space astronomy cameras, t…

nightscape photography

8 Nightscape Photography Tips for Amazing Astrophotography

|Milky Way|9 Comments

Nightscape photography involves capturing a landscape style image, at night. It can include the beautiful Milky Way, a starry sky, or your favorite constellation. This is a type of astrophotography, where long exposure images are taken to reveal the beautiful light of a seemingly 'dark' sky. Star photography requires quality optics, and some camera lenses are better suited for it than others.  To really make your nightscape image amazing, you'll want to capture an interesting foreground, too. This can be snowy mountains, a waterfall, or in my case, just a dark, wooded forest. In the vi…

best astrophotography images

My Best Images & The Gear Used

On this website, I do my best to share information and astrophotography tips that provide value. I could pat myself on the back about all of the great astrophotography images I took this year, but it is of little interest to anyone if I don't explain how I took the shot.  In this article, I'll share my best astrophotography images of 2020, and the equipment setups used for each image. This way, you'll have a better idea of what's behind each image, and how you can accomplish a similar result yourself. Capturing the images with the right set of gear is only half of the equation, of c…

Sigma 24mm F/1.4 Lens for Astrophotography

Using a Sigma 24mm F/1.4 for Astrophotography

|Camera Lenses|6 Comments

The Sigma 24mm F/1.4 lens is an interesting choice for astrophotography, particularly wide-angle Milky Way photography. With an f-ratio of F/1.4, this Sigma art series lens can pull in a lot of light under a dark night sky. Over the years I have used a number of great camera lenses for astrophotography from the Rokinon 135mm F/2, to the Canon EF 300mm F/4L. The Sigma 24mm F/1.4 is perhaps the most impressive lens for astrophotography overall, rarely due to its incredibly fast aperture.  I've used the lens on my Canon DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, and have found it to be one of the mo…

Radian Raptor 61 Review

Radian Raptor 61 Review

|Telescopes|27 Comments

The Radian Raptor 61 is a triplet apochromatic refractor telescope for astrophotography. It features a compact design with features custom-suited for wide-field, deep-sky astrophotography. Since the Raptor arrived in September, I have taken some of my best astrophotography images to date with it. In this review, I'll share all of the image examples I have collected since the prototype arrived at my door.  This compact telescope was designed for astrophotography with a camera attached, not visual observations through an eyepiece. If you're interested in taking pictures of deep-sky ob…