Nik Szymanek is an astrophotographer based in North Essex and has been using CCD cameras to image the deep sky since they were first introduced in the early 1990’s from a back garden observatory. He has written a monthly ‘Masterclass’ astro-imaging column in Astronomy Now magazine for the last ten years as well as three books on astronomical imaging, the latest of which, Shooting Stars II, has just been published. In 2004 he was invited to Berkley, California, to receive the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Amateur Achievement Award for outreach and image-processing techniques, some of which have been used in collaborations with professional astronomers. Nik is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the British Astronomical Association and is a regular speaker to astronomy and photographic societies. Other interests include meteorological photography and playing drums in heavy rock bands.
Imaging the deep sky, then and now
Friday 31st January 2020: Session One
In the thirty years that CCD cameras have been available to the amateur astronomical community there has been incredible progress made in terms of equipment, techniques and software. Today’s astro-imagers can routinely produce outstanding imagery, in many cases using quite modest equipment from suburban back gardens, that matches or surpasses the best images found in astronomy books of the 1970’s or 1980’s. With the introduction of the first fledgling CCD cameras, amateur imagers were introduced to high-quality autoguiding and an imaging medium that far exceeded the sensitivity of even the fastest emulsion films. Coupled with a rise in the power and sophistication of image processing software, associated hardware (tracking mounts etc.) and the meteoric rise in quality of consumer DSLRs, the modern astrophotographer can also contribute to scientific imaging programs. This talk will look back over these exciting times and discuss how the hobby of astro-imaging has evolved.