Hardcover: 540 pages
Wide-field astrophotography is an area where the beginner can bypass the complexities of prime focus telescopic astrophotography yet still excel and achieve good results quickly. Exquisite prime focus close-ups of galaxies and faint nebulae are attractive showpieces, but the art and technicalities of photographing such objects through a telescope are intimidating to the beginner. In high-resolution telescopic photography, the cost of the specialized equipment, the complexities of focusing fine, often invisible detail through the telescope, and guiding with extreme accuracy to achieve worthy results are obstacles to a novice sky shooter. Simpler non-telescopic wide-field astrophotography is an alternative that anyone who owns a camera can enjoy.
Today may well be the Golden Age of Astrophotography. At no time in the past has there been a wider range of films, both color and black and white, that do well when exposed to the night sky. Many of these films capture images in a few minutes that just a few years ago required lengthy exposure by an experienced astrophotographer. Some of these films can be processed in a 1-hr lab--gone is the era of waiting days to see your results.
This text then introduces techniques needed to mount ordinary 35-mm and medium format cameras atop an equatorially-driven telescope in order to produce stunning portraits of constellations, the Milky Way, bright nebulae, and star clusters using wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Separate chapters extensively discuss cameras, lenses, filters, and photographic accessories suitable for astrophotography as well as the guiding techniques needed to accurately track moving celestial targets. Additional chapters also detail powerful astrographs such as the Schmidt camera, and describe a number of homebuilt devices which can enhance the convenience and versatility of wide-field astrophotography. Further chapters discuss the characteristics of photographic film, how to test a film for its suitability for astrophotography, the current film selection available, hypersensitizing techniques used to increase the ability of commercial film to record dim celestial objects, and both digital and chemical darkroom techniques useful in astrophotography. This continues the introduction to wide-field astrophotography by discussing the specifics of meteor and comet photography, offering solutions to real problems encountered in astrophotography, and reviewing the history of photography as applied to astronomy.