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A look at Astronomical photography - Never Seen Star Wars? (or the Milky Way) - part 8 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

by Mike McNamee Published 01/12/2016


The workflows described by Gendler often utilise images created by others, sometimes from a number of observatories and they are thus disqualified from use in our monthly and 16x20 competitions (and in truth most ‘photography’ competitions). If you want to make eligible images you are going to have to invest both time and money. By photographic standards, a lot of astronomy kit seems modestly priced; if you look at the telescope shown it seems like a lot of hardware for the money. As with all other things in life, the more you pay the better the equipment you can gather. You still need the skills though.

An outflow from this discussion is the notion that you have to take advice to avoid expensive pitfalls. We spoke to Telescope House ( who dealt very sympathetically with our lack of knowledge and provided a rough guide to the outlay required. It seems that around £2,000 will get you going with a telescope, tripod and an equatorial mount - you will also need a GOTO device to move your telescope into position, especially if your target is faint and undetectable by eye. We assume that you have a camera and Photoshop! One snippet of information we gleaned from Telescope House is that a number of professional photographers have taken up astrophotography as a diversion from their day-to-day work (any Imagemaker readers out there might care to drop us an email!). Depending upon your wallet, £2,000 might or might not sound like a lot of money but when a 400mm f2.8 costs close on £10,000, it seems like value for money.


In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever produced, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is offering an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. This turbulent star-formation region is one of astronomy's most dramatic and photogenic celestial objects. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto ( Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

"In the image the stars of the Milky Way seem to be pouring forth from the open dome of the telescope. The brightest patch close to the telescope is the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372), which contains some of the most massive stars in our galaxy (see for example eso0905 and eso1031). Near the top of the image are the stars of Crux, the Southern Cross. This constellation, and that of Carina, are in the southern sky and are therefore not visible from most northern latitudes.

The telescope in the image is the fourth 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescope, part of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). The VLTI consists of four 8.2-metre telescopes, and the four smaller Auxiliary Telescopes, which have mirrors 1.8 metres across. Thanks to the size of the telescopes, their cutting-edge technology and the excellent conditions at the site, it is no wonder that Paranal is considered the most advanced visible-light observatory in the world."

Credit: ESO/José Francisco Salgado (

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1st Published 01/12/2016
last update 30/01/2018 12:09:32

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Updated 30/01/2018 12:09:32 Last Modified: Tuesday, 30 January 2018