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What’s new in 2016?

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I usually like to wait until I’ve got a new astrophotography image to share before I make a post, but today I just felt like sharing some thoughts about where I am at with this blog. Astrobackyard.com is still in it’s early stages, but I have had quite a few vistors as of late and I am truly honored that you have decided to take a moment out of your busy day to view my astronomy images.

Cold winter night with stars

The Winter Blues

The skies have been painfully clouded over for what seems like the last 3 months, and I really haven’t got any decent imaging done since photographing the Horsehead Nebula in December.  There have been 1 or two frigid clear nights, but they have been flooded out by a bright full moon, or close to it.  On the bright side, these cloudy nights have given me the perfect opportunity to work on astrobackyard.com, and re-process some of my old astrophotography images.

Staying Social

I have been spending a fair amount of time connecting with fellow astrophotographers on social media.  There are so many amazing astronomy photos being shared on a daily basis all over the world.  I especially like the connections I have made on twitter and instagram as of late.  I have finally figured out how to comfortably use Google+, it was a long time coming.  There are some fantastic astrophotography communities over there that I would highly recommend joining.  My favourite communities would have to be Astrophotography and Night Photography.

Here are some of the night sky photos I have shared recently on Google+

Astrophotography Communities on Google Plus

Astrophotographers Everywhere

It’s funny, once you spread your “brand” across all of the available platforms, you notice a lot of the same names involved in your hobby.  I have had an unbelievable response to my new YouTube Channel, earning over 20 subscribers in just a few months.  I can’t wait to shoot and edit my next video for that channel, I already have some ideas, I just need the weather to cooperate.  My lonely Facebook page could use some love, so if you are a Facebook user, you may like to keep up to date with me by liking that page.

Office by Day, Backyard by Night

I really respect every night sky photo I see shared online, because I know first-hand how much work is put into each one.  It means staying up late during the week, overcoming technical difficulties and battling weather conditions, all for your passion for photography.  Having a clear vision for your end result is a powerful mindset that can carry you through the toughest of setbacks.  Astrophotography can also keep you away from your family and friends, as you can’t expect them to sit and wait outside with you for the perfect image. (I’ve tried)

If you work a 9-5 job like I do, you have to sacrifice a lot of sleep to keep both your hobby and career healthy. A dream of mine is to one day support my family by pursuing my photography passion.

 

Wide field image of the Pinwheel Galaxy

Recently Re-Processed – M101 – The Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major

iOptron Sky Tracker

Plans for landscape astrophography in the spring

iOptron Sky Tracker MountOne aspect of my photography that I will be focusing on this year is landscape astrophotography.  I hope to capture some interesting and dynamic landscape images that include the night sky, weather it be the milky way, the constellations or the moon.  A true landscape image includes elements like foreground interest, composition and lead-in lines.  These touches are more difficult to execute when shooting at night!  I hope to purchase a small travel mount this year, such as an iOptron Sky Tracker Camera mount.  A lightweight, portable camera mount like this will open up new options including being able to shoot from multiple locations on a single night.  I hope to add this piece of equipment to my arsenal by spring.

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Back in the Game – My New Mount!

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This post talks about upgrading from a Celestron CG-5 astrophotography mount to the Sky-Watcher HEQ5. I have been using the Sky-Watcher mount ever since with over 5 years of successful deep sky imaging under its belt!

My New Mount

Sky-Watcher Astrophotography Mount

NGC 7000 - The North American Nebula

NGC 7000: Imaged Monday, June 3, 2013.
32 subs 5 Minutes Each totoaling 2 Hours 40 Minutes

The above image was taken using my old mount last Monday. After fighting with it for over an hour (mount shutting off, restarting, re-aligning 3 times!) I finally got it to work for one more night!

I am officially back in the saddle again! My Celestron CG-5 issues had me a tad depressed about missing imaging time through the absolute best time of year. After the CG-5 was fixed in April, it quickly began acting up again, and shutting off in the middle of in the middle of my imaging sessions. I realized that I had to replace my aging “starter mount” fast!

After doing hours of research online (forums, vendor sites, blogs) I decided I was going to spring for an Orion Sirus EQ-G. It is a modest mount, but still quite expensive for my limited astro-budget. But before I put the order in, I checked Astrobuysell.ca. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro Synscan GPS for sale in my area!

Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro Synscan

The HEQ-5 has a stellar reputation in the astrophotography community. Everything I have read about this mount has been positive.  The mount is rated to carry a 40lb payload!  It is so much heavier and solid than my Celestron.  I can’t wait to bring it to my dark sky site and spend a night imaging with it!

View my current deep sky astrophotography equipment.

You can also have a look at the Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro Synscan with my refractor telescope mounted to it in the following video. This should give you a better idea of whats involved with a typical deep sky astrophotography telescope setup.

Deep Sky Astrophotography Camera and Telescope Setup


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