Astrophotography: Why do I do this?

I actually think about this question often, although it’s usually in response to a question like: Why don’t you travel to Arizona or other darker/warmer area? or, Why not set up and use a remote dark site observatory? They’re good questions, and I often think through the issues, but I always ultimately end up with the same answer…. I like the activity more than the result. My usual response to the direct question is: “I like the fight”.

In our smallish community, we have a few other dedicated astronomy folks. One friend is set up to provide data on a regular set of variables to the AAVSO, another is working on asteroid detection and providing results to the MPC (Minor Planet Center). Others in our group are primarily visual observers and do it for their own challenges/desires and social reasons. Me, I’m just taking pictures….. alone, in the cold night, monitoring the equipment & conditions. Some how, some way this is what I like. I do attend an occasional star-party, or head out to a local dark area, but usually I do my thing at my little observatory up on the bluff, about 30 minutes from home.

I find satisfaction in activities that present challenges that I can work through and overcome. If the end result satisfies, great! If not, I still made it through the night and hopefully learned something. It’s the struggle against the full spectrum of astrophoto problems that I enjoy. Getting the mount set just right, the guiding set, the focus tight, exposures good for the conditions, plus the cold & problems with wind, weather, lights, and moon…. getting home with decent data is very satisfying to me. It’s the fight, and the winning, that keeps me entertained.

Besides, this is the only activity where I can spend lots of money and be gone all night, and my wife will put up with it. #B^)



Oh, I forgot to mention another major reason:

Those wonderful, feeling small, moments under a dark dark sky blazing with stars. There are not many more beautiful and humbling views in this life.

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