Astrophotography from the tip of Africa

Ten months ago I embarked on a new journey and entered the exciting world of astrophotography. In many respects I have got into the hobby backwards, having spent much of my life as a professional theoretical cosmologists scribbling down equations rather than staring down the eyepiece of a telescope or spending long nights in the control room of a modern observatory. So in May 2017 I took the plunge and started taking pictures, not of the beautiful mountain or seascapes which dominate Cape Town, the city I have made my home, but of distant emission nebulae and galaxies.

Looking back, it’s clear that I knew almost nothing when I started this venture. I stumbled into this hobby blissfully ignorant of how much I needed to learn in order to start producing images I could be proud of. Astrophotography is hard, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. There is nothing more thrilling than taking a stack of hundreds of sub-frames or subs for short, that you have painstakingly accumulated over several nights and applying that initial auto-stretch to reveal a detailed image of a deep sky object. Those of you who have experienced this know exactly what I am talking about!

The idea behind this blog is to attempt to demystify the art of astrophotography and share what I have learnt (and still learning) about this wonderful past time. Over the coming weeks and months I will provided detailed information about my set up, the cameras, equipment and software I use and some of the processing tricks I have learned to improve the quality of my images. I hope that some of these posts will help others avoid some the mistakes and pitfalls I have encountered along the way and help them get on the road to producing breathtaking images of the universe.