The Magic of Astrophotography

I don’t know about you but I struggle with astrophotography; for me it is a bit of a black art. Not that I don’t appreciate the results. One of my highlights of every society meeting is the ‘Members Images’ section of the Observing Officers reports. How those ‘Hubble’ style photos are produced, sometimes from someone’s back garden just leave me in awe. So the presentation of ~ ‘The Magic of Astrophotography’ ~ by Professor Ian Morison at the September meeting was a learning curve for me but one that I really enjoyed.

Prof. Morison, FRAS, is an astronomer and astrophysicist who, though a radio astronomer by profession working for over 51 years at the Jodrell Bank Observatory of the University of Manchester, served 35 years as Gresham Professor of Astronomy and college lecturer, helped found and is patron of the Macclesfield Astronomical Society, and is a current Council member and past President of the Society of Popular Astronomy. As well as regularly writing for ‘Popular Astronomy’ along with articles for ‘Sky at Night’ and ‘Astronomy Now’ magazines, he is an author with six books to his credit. He also has a blog ~ www.ianmorison.com ~ which contains many interesting equipment reviews and advice on astrophotography.

This lifetimes work in astronomy (he also built his first telescope aged 11) was rightly acknowledged by the naming of main belt asteroid 15727 after him.

He has a genial and enthusiastic presentation manner which makes for easy listening, with supporting PowerPoint slides which took us from the simple ‘camera on a tripod’ method to picture star trails, through the gamut of techniques increasing in complexity to the more subtle and stunning deep sky objects. The hour just flew by.

I’m sure there were many in the audience who understood far more than I did and may have gained some lateral information or ideas to supplement their knowledge.

To be fair I have seen Prof. Morison talk before at his Gresham College lectures and this was a return visit to OAS, although it was about 10 years ago we last saw him. So the interest he generated was no surprise. It certainly opened a few more doors into the fascination of astrophotography and its techniques for me; perhaps now more ‘art’ than ‘black’!

Hugh Alford ~ Vice Chair

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