I’ve always got my eye on the sky! Here you’ll find a selection of photographs I’ve taken to document the most beautiful skies I’ve witnessed, day and night. Most of these photos were taken with a low-budget kit, and I am more than happy to provide advice if you’d like to start shooting photos of the sky yourself. Click images to enlarge!

A memento from a lovely night under dark skies. I spent hours panning the setting Milky Way with a dream camera on a most dubious “tripod” and shooting livestacks of the interesting sights that I stumbled across. Here’s one of those sights: sixty-two seconds total of <1s exposures.

Title: Soft
Samyang 135mm f/2 @ f/2
ASI183MM-Pro
62s total exposure, livestacking
 

This beach is made of water and wood.

 

One of my favorite photos of all time, from a night spent playing around in the backyard with my new 135mm f/2 lens. It was cloudy, but Jupiter and its string of moons shone through admirably.

Title: Jupiter on Endless Shores
Samyang 135mm f/2
Canon 350D
Single 1.6s exposure
 

Imagine the scene: Sensitive modern monochrome camera, outrageously sharp 67.5mm f/2 refractor, chugging away quietly recording light of various unfathomable ages, held on the back of an 8″ dob with a few bungee cords. That’s what my livestacking rig looked like the first time I set it up, with no easy mount at hand. There were some light clouds in the field that night, and the light pollution here in Houston is fierce, but nonetheless I was able to take this image with only 6.7 minutes total of livestacked short exposures; no tracking involved. How fun to watch M13 build up on the screen, and NGC 6207 pop out in processing!

Title: Large Star Cluster, Little Galaxy
Samyang 135mm f/2 @ f/2
ASI178MM
6.7 minute total exposure, livestacking

I took this as a test image after collimating the C11 belonging to the Houston Astronomical Society’s loaner program. I’d say collimation was a success! Both my polar alignment and the tracking were on the poor side, so this image only used the best 35 frames from a capture of 180– the rest were rejected due to trailing or egg-shaped stars. Post-processing included Registax wavelets and Photoshop smart sharpening.

Title: Ring Nebula
Celestron C11 + CGEM
ASI178MM
Stack of 35x10s exposures (5.8 minutes total)

One of my friends let me borrow his equatorial platform during a private starparty, and this photo is the result. My DSLR is old, and can barely scrape by under dark skies without tracking; but with tracking, the subframes are plenty bright enough to exceed the noise and bring out the glows of the Milky Way, globular clusters in Sagittarius, and the soft snake-like dark nebula in Corona Australis.

Title: Sagittarius
50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8
(Olympus OM-System G.Zuiko)
Canon 350D
Stack of 171x15s exposures (43 minutes total)

“This camera’s meant as a planetary camera, right?” A first-try planetary image, fumbled through stacking in AutoStakkert! and processing in Registax and Photoshop. The seeing wasn’t great, but I shot images through several different filters in hopes of making a color composite, and the red filter (shown) improved the sharpness considerably. (I never did finish the color composite; it needed derotation, and the other color channels were so blurry that I didn’t want to spend the time.)

Title: Jupiter
Orion XT8
ASI178MM

A distant storm visible just after sunset at TSP 2019. I set up my tripod on the road just west of the upper field, running a timelapse in hopes of catching some exciting lightning. Foreground clouds intervened, and most frames were not so clear, but luckily I got one good shot of the cauliflower-cloud illuminated from within.

Title: Flash
50mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4
(Olympus OM-System G.Zuiko)
Canon 350D
Stack of 471x13s exposures (1 hour, 42 minutes total)

When I wake up before dawn and can’t fall back asleep, I step outside to enjoy a peek at the next season’s sky. One summer morning, my early AM view starred the Moon perched between the horns of Taurus, with a bright aureole, corona, and earthshine. I grabbed my camera and tripod and took a few shots, which I later combined into an HDR composite.

Title: Corona and Hyades
Samyang 135mm f/2
Canon 350D
HDR stack

I took this one out the window of my hotel room during the SMSW-II spectrography workshop, the camera propped up precariously on boxes and pillows. The rainbows are spectra, one for each light in the city below, formed by the Star Analyzer diffraction grating over my lens. Most show the telltale broad yellow ‘volcano’ profile of High Pressure Sodium lights, but there are a few more exotic patterns in there too, including the red staccato of Neon.

Title: Las Cruces Lights
65-200mm @ 200mm
(Olympus OM-System
G.Zuiko)Canon 350D
Single exposure

A series of happy accidents. I forgot to stop my lens back down to f/2.8 after focusing, and instead of throwing out the coma-filled data, tried stacking it anyway. DeepSkyStacker failed to register most of the frames, but it failed in an interesting way– voilà, punctuated star trails! A bit (okay, a lot) of saturation to bring out the natural tints, along with some local contrast enhancement, and I’m quite happy with the result.

Title: Cassiopeia
50mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4
(Olympus OM-System G.Zuiko)
Canon 350D
Stack of 471x13s exposures (1 hour, 42 minutes total)

Mammatus clouds are a common sight in Houston at certain times of the year. What this display lacked in form, it more than made up for in color.

Title: Mammatus in Motion
Nexus 5X