My interest in Astronomy along with photography began some 40 years ago in Australia. I was inspired by Patrick Moore of the BBC and Sky at Night.
The wonders of our universe are infinate and the idea of gazing up into the night sky and being able to observe clusters, nebulae and galaxies that existed way before mankind existed still fascinates me today. The night sky is like a virtual time machine.
My parents bought me my first telescope which was a 4 ½” Newtonian Reflector on a very crudely made German Equatorial Mount, this type of telescope is still a very popular choice for people starting out with Astronomy. It provided my very first glimpse of the Moon, the rings of Saturn and Jupiter. In the early 80's I acquired my first Schmidt Cassegrain Reflector scope which gave amazing views of many Deep Sky objects and I was really hooked.
I would usually travel to outback regions in Northern Victoria where the skies are so dark (1 on the bortle scale) the milky way would cast a shadow.
I dabbled in astrophotography using a 35mm Olympus OM1 SLR (a popular choice for astro photographers during the day) while mounted on a 10" SCT, for guiding I had an off axis guider requiring me to adjust the Right ascension and declination manually once every few seconds. Unfortunately I found this to be too difficult and soon after abandoned any idea of being able to successfully produce any astro images apart from short exposure moon shots.
My ambition to be able to capture the glory of the night skies never disappeared and one day I hoped to be able to shoot The Andromeda Galaxy, from Australia this object is rarely above the horizon.
In 2000 I moved to the USA and not long after I decided once more to combine both my passions for Astronomy and Photography with the purchase of my first telescope that would be dedicated to imaging mounted on a concrete pier in an 8' x 8' shed with a "batwing" style removable roof, I call this my backyard observatory. These days I mainly use a 5" Refractor and a Mountain Instruments equatorial mount and my ambition to shoot M31, The Andromeda Galaxy has been realized and much more, for this I am truly grateful.
I love this photo! Wonder if there is ever a time when you could photograph it again but without any people in it? Meaning if some time like early in the morning would work?If so I might try a face on shot taken from right in the middle of the two loops. Jason