The book is written for amateur astronomers interested in budget astrophotography – the deep sky, not just the Moon and planets – and for those who want to improve their imaging skills using DSLR and webcams. It is even possible to use existing (non-specialist astronomical) equipment for scientific applications such as high resolution planetary and lunar photography, astrometry, photometry, and spectroscopy.
The introduction of the CCD revolutionized astrophotography. The availability of this technology to the amateur astronomy community has allowed advanced science and imaging techniques to become available to almost anyone willing to take the time to learn a few, simple techniques. Specialized cooled-chip CCD imagers are capable of superb results in the right hands – but they are all very expensive. If budget is important, the reader is advised on using a standard camera instead.
Jensen provides techniques useful in acquiring beautiful high-quality images and high level scientific data in one accessible and easy-to-read book. It introduces techniques that will allow the reader to use more economical DSLR cameras – that are of course also used for day-to-day photography – to produce images and data of high quality, without a large cash investment.
Observing Skills: The Science and Art of using Astronomical Telescopes provides the required information. First, it explains how to get the best from entry-level equipment (that upgrade may not even be needed for a year or two!). Second, it explains how to select equipment that is at the ‘next level’, and describes how use more advanced telescopes and accessories.
The book is organized according to observational targets, and although it concentrates mainly on visual observing, it concludes with a section on imaging and the equipment currently available – from regular digital cameras, through webcams, to specialized chilled-chip CCD cameras.
Observing Skills: The Science and Art of using Astronomical Telescopes is the perfect follow-up to Moore and Watson: Astronomy with a Budget Telescope and Tonkin: AstroFAQs . It neatly fills the gap between these introductory books and the more advanced books in Springer’s Practical Astronomy list.
All it takes is some elbow grease, a creative and open mind and the help of Chung's hard-won knowledge on building and modifying telescopes and cameras. With this book, it is possible for readers to improve their craft, making their equipment more user friendly. The tools are at hand, and the advice on how to do it is here. Readers will discover a comprehensive presentation of astronomical projects that any amateur on any budget can replicate – projects that utilize leading edge technology and techniques sure to invigorate the experts and elevate the less experienced.
As the "maker" community continues to expand, it has wonderful things to offer amateur astronomers with a willingness to get their hands dirty. Tweaking observing and imaging equipment so that it serves a custom purpose can take your observing options to the next level, while being fun to boot.
This book is unique in that it gives readers the skills necessary for obtaining excellent images for scientific purposes in a concise and procedurally oriented manner. This not only gets the reader used to a disciplined approach to imaging to maximize quality, but also to maximize the success (and minimize the frustration!) inherent in the pursuit of astrophotography. The knowledge and skills imparted to the reader of this handbook also provide an excellent basis for “beautiful picture” astrophotography!
There is a wealth of information in this book – a distillation of ideas and data presented by a diverse set of sources and based on the most recent techniques, equipment, and data available to the amateur astronomer. There are also numerous practical exercises. Scientific Astrophotography is perfect for any amateur astronomer who wants to go beyond just astrophotography and actually contribute to the science of astronomy.
The advent of CCDs, and more recently inexpensive webcams, has led to a much greater proportion of amateur astronomers becoming involved in digital imaging. The low price of the new Meade Deep Sky Imager - $299 (2005) – suggests that within a few years a simple digital camera will become a standard accessory for any telescope.
There are as yet few books available on this aspect of amateur astronomy. This situation is likely to change in the next few years and there are going to be lots of people out there asking questions like "Flat field? What does that mean?", and trying to work out how to get the best out of their webcam, CCD or Digital SLR. They will also be wondering what is the best software to use.
To summarise; this is a book that tells practical astronomers (and that includes some but not all professionals) what is needed to get from standing in the dark with a telescope and a camera, to showing your spouse, local society friends or even supervisor the astonishing images that can be obtained with simple equipment but the right software and knowledge of how to use it.
(Grant Privett works for the Ministry of Defence in the UK, heading up the Advanced Image Processing Team.)
What is one-shot color imaging? Typically, astronomical cooled-chip CCD cameras record only one color at a time - rather like old-fashioned black & white cameras fitted with color filters. Three images are taken in sequence - in red, blue, and green light - and these are then merged by software in a PC to form a color image. Each of the three images must be taken separately through a suitable color filter, which means that the total exposure time for every object is more than tripled. When exposure times can run into tens of minutes or even hours for each of the three colors, this can be a major drawback for the time-pressed amateur.
"One-Shot Color Astronomical Imaging" describes the most cost-effective and time-efficient way for any amateur astronomer to begin to photograph the deep-sky.
Four hundred year ago, during the winter of 1609, a relatively unknown Italian scientist, Galileo Galilei designed a spyglass with two crude lenses and turned it skyward. Since then, refractors have retained their dominance over all types of reflector in studies of the Moon, planets and double stars because of the precision of their optics and lack of a central obstruction in the optical path, which causes diffraction effects in all commercially-made reflectors.
Most mature amateur astronomers got started with a 60mm refractor, or something similar. Thirty years ago there was little choice available to the hobbyist, but in the last decade long focus crown-flint achromats have moved aside for some exquisitely crafted apochromatic designs offered by leading commercial manufacturers. There has been a huge increase in the popularity of these telescopes in the last few years, led by a significant increase in the number of companies (particularly, William Optics, Orion USA, Stellarview, Skywatcher and AstroTech) who are now heavily marketing refractors in the amateur astronomical magazines.
In Choosing and Using a Refracting Telescope, well-known observer and astronomy writer Neil English celebrates the remarkable history and evolution of the refracting telescope and looks in detail at the instruments, their evolution and their use.
A major feature of this book is the way it compares not only different classes of refractor, but also telescopes of each class that are sold by various commercial manufacturers. The author is perhaps uniquely placed to do this, having used and tested literally hundreds of different refracting telescopes over three decades.
Because it includes many diverse subjects such as imaging with consumer-level digital cameras, imaging with webcams, and imaging with astronomical CCD cameras – that are not covered together in equal depth in any other single volume – Choosing and Using a Refracting Telescope could become the ‘refractor bible’ for amateur astronomers at all levels, especially those who are interested in imaging astronomical objects of every class.
Author and world-renowned astrophotographer Thierry Legault teaches the art and techniques of astrophotography: from simple camera-on-tripod night-scene imaging of constellations, star trails, eclipses, artificial satellites, and polar auroras to more intensive astrophotography using specialized equipment for lunar, planetary, solar, and deep-sky imaging. Legault shares advice on equipment and guides you through techniques to capture and process your images to achieve spectacular results.
Astrophotography provides the most thorough treatment of the topic available. This large-format, richly illustrated book is intended for all sky enthusiasts-newcomers and veterans alike.
Learn how to:Select the most useful equipment: cameras, adapters, filters, focal reducers/extenders, field correctors, and guide telescopes Set up your camera (digital, video, or CCD) and your lens or telescope for optimal resultsPlan your observing sessionsMount the camera on your telescope and focus it for razor-sharp imagesPolar-align your equatorial mount and improve tracking for pin-point star imagesMake celestial time-lapse videosCalculate the shooting parameters: focal length and ratio, field of view, exposure time, etc.Combine multiples exposures to reveal faint galaxies, nebulae details, elusive planetary structures, and tiny lunar craters Adjust contrast, brightness, light curves, and colorsPostprocess your images to fix defects such as vignetting, dust shadows, hot pixels, uneven background, and noiseIdentify problems with your images and improve your results