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The Great American Eclipse, One Year Later

On August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse was visible in a thin band that spanned the entire contiguous United States from east to west, something that hadn’t happened in 99 years. I traveled from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Douglas, Wyoming, to see the once-in-a-lifetime event for myself. A year later, it remains the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. Here are my memories from that trip.

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Perseid Meteor Shower, 2018

The Perseid meteor shower is the most active shower of the year. This year’s Perseids came on a new moon, meaning the skies would be dark and clear if the weather held out. A couple of friends and I were able to get out of town for an evening to watch the fireworks. Here’s what we saw.

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Look Mom, No Forks! My Adventures Deforking a NexStar 11 GPS

About 18 months ago, I was graciously given a telescope by a member of my town’s local astronomy club: a Celestron NexStar 11 GPS. I could hardly contain my excitement! This scope would give me the ability to see things I couldn’t with my smaller refractors. It also presented me with a new challenge; getting it to work for long-exposure, deep sky objects. Here’s how things have turned out so far. Continue reading Look Mom, No Forks! My Adventures Deforking a NexStar 11 GPS

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What can you do with a $40 lens?

I love the challenge of pushing hardware to its limits. I did it professionally as a software engineer for over a decade, and now I do it for fun with my cameras. So when I found an already-cheap 50mm prime lens for $40 on Craigslist, I jumped on it. But can such a cheap lens produce good astro-photos?

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Shooting the Stars from a Plane: Part 1

Shooting the stars usually requires a high degree of precision. You need a good understanding of how your camera behaves and a rock-solid tripod, so intuitively, it seems impossible to do from a passenger jet. But late-night flights aren’t exactly known for their entertainment value, so I tried it for myself, and here’s what I found.

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Trying New Things With an Old Lens

… It was 6:15AM, and still dark enough to go back to bed. At this point, I realized I wasn’t cold even after standing in the dark for almost 2 hours. My dashboard thermometer showed 57 degrees, and only the slightest breeze was blowing. I’ve had some great nights out, but this one was exceptional …

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Just Getting Started

When I was a kid, the internet was barely a thing. Even so, photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope were making quite the splash around the world. I remember the first time I saw Hubble imagery of the Pillars of Creation – bright stars and brilliant glowing gas clouds that put the best imagery from Star Trek to shame (not a huge ask in 1995, but still true today). I’m not sure if I decided then that I wanted to become a scientist and create photographs of nebulae and galaxies, but it definitely made an impression!

Twenty-some-odd years and BS/MS degrees in Computer Science later, I decided to jump head-first into the world of astrophotography. In a couple of short years, I’ve learned (and $pent!) more than I ever thought I would, and still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.  I hope that by sharing my experiences, failures, and victories, others will be able enjoy exploring the cosmos as much as I have.  My plan for this blog site is to share ideas, art, and some home-brew software.  Stick around!

– The Photon Collector