I'm a physician living
in Connecticut with my wife and two children.
My interest in astronomy
dates back to my childhood in New York where I made frequent
visits to the famous Hayden Planetarium. I remember keenly the
great feeling of excitement and inspiration I felt when gazing
at the magnificent astrophotographs produced by the large observatories
of those days. Astronomy and especially astrophotography remained
little more than a dream until I moved from New York City to
Connecticut in 1993. After taking an introductory course in astronomy
at a local college I purchased a pair of binoculars and spent
the next year and a half learning the night sky. I then purchased
my first telescope, a 10" dobsonian with which I spent the
next year observing many deep sky objects whenever the weather
permitted. I have many pleasant memories of my early experiences
using that telescope. I remember the great feeling of accomplishment
and pride upon finding distant galaxies in the eyepiece. This
was surely exciting but deep down I yearned to take images like
the ones I looked at in amazement earlier in my life. My next
purchase was a significant step forward. In 1996 I bought a 10" Meade LX200 and
an ST8 CCD camera. This equipment gave me my start in astroimaging.
My first images of distant galaxies and nebulas were of mediocre
quality but gave me a feeling of excitement and achievement that
encouraged me to go forward to color imaging. I continued to
improve on my techniques. From that point on I would say I was
hooked on taking astroimages. My equipment evolved to apochromatic
refractors and then to my latest telescope which is a 12.5"
Ritchey-Chretien cassegrain. I currently use an ST8E (SBIG) CCD
camera for most images but also use an IMG1024 (FLI) camera for
some of my images.
Early in my imaging
days I was inspired by the great professional astrophotographer
David Malin and by the early black and white images taken with
the 200" at Mt Palomar. I was also greatly impressed with
the aesthetic images being produced by amateurs with more modest
equipment. Images taken by Bill McLaughlin, Al Kelly, Adrian
Catterall, Stan Moore and others demonstrated to me that the
CCD could be used to produce images rivaling film in aesthetic
quality but with superior resolution and contrast. The CCD is
indeed a versatile and powerful imaging instrument. My imaging
style evolved in part from studying both film and CCD images
taken by many of the great imagers practicing today. What I try
to achieve is a balance of smoothness and richness in color,
coupled with the best resolution and contrast I can acquire with
my equipment. This requires careful attention to detail and very
long cumulative exposures (usually 3 to 5 hours for a given object).
My routine is to devote an entire night (or sometimes several
nights) to imaging a single object. In this way I can acquire
the large amount of data needed to put together a high quality
color astroimage. My favorite part of the process is watching
the image come to life on the computer screen as I put together
the multitude of individual frames taken during the previous
in scientific value I feel aesthetic imaging has great educational
and artistic value. The fascinating natural forms and colors
of galaxies, nebulas, and other deepsky objects are deeply aesthetic
and have inspired many to learn more about our wonderful universe.
As an art form recording the natural wonders of the night sky
is deeply rewarding and inspiring.
I do all of my imaging
from my driveway adjacent to my home. I am lucky to be living
on a dark cul de sac although there is significant light pollution
where I live. On the best nights the transparency is between
4.5 and 5.0 magnitude although the seeing is usually good to
excellent. I also feel lucky to have neighbors who are kind enough
to cooperate by turning their lights down when I'm imaging.
Although this is
a wonderful hobby, it is expensive. It is also difficult both
technically and physically. It requires a significant commitment
but pays back in huge rewards. I enthusiastically recommend it
to anyone with an interest in the areas of astronomy, imaging,
or computer science since it is a great marriage of these disciplines.
Just a word of warning; after your first successful image be
prepared to be hooked for life!
Copyright robgendler.astrodigitals.com .