Beginning astronomy, and astrophotography

Whether you are beginning astronomy, beginning astrophotography, or both, you will sympathize with much of this. We all seem to start in a very similar way and this is my story.

My fascination with all of this started as a kid, as I am sure it did with most people. Since I was born around the time of the great race to the moon it was only logical that I was star struck (pun intended) with everything space related. In that time it was hard not to be. Model rockets were all the rage, and everything was advertised in some way with astronauts and space related themes. I don’t think it is possible that anyone will ever be brought up in such a space nurturing environment.

Fast forward to where I got my first “real” job, which I define as a job that not only pays the bills fairly well, but allows for enough extra cash to blow on not-so-cheap hobbies. I was really into photography so I had several camera bodies and a few lenses and I thought wouldn’t it be great to join that with my love of the stars? After much reading and many phone calls (this is pre-internet mainia so no web surfing involved) I bought what at the time (1996 or so) was supposed to be an awesome telescope for beginning astronomy and had some accessories. It was a Celestron 114EQ reflector like this diagram:

my beginning astronomy, a celestron EQ telescope Man how I hated this scope! Keep in mind I was a complete novice to this hobby, with no help, no clubs, and no internet to speak of. Rereading the manual over and over, and many phone calls to the store where I mail ordered the scope got me virtually nowhere.

I really wanted to like the scope as it cost me a small fortune and had me thinking of what all was possible. Unfortunately, despite what the salesman said, this was not a good telescope for beginning astronomy and even less so for beginning astrophotography.

I did however take one picture:

my beginning astrophotography, the moonThere were other pictures of course, but this was the best of the bunch, completely unedited (except scanning in the original 35mm negative, and resizing) just as it appeared on the print I had made. Obviously this was not the best beginner telescope for astrophotography. This scope probably spent a grand total of three hours outside spanning three occasions and was then turned into a living room decoration for the next fifteen or so years. I eventually resold it to a friend for his three young children who were getting started in astronomy. Since it had been so little used it was still in awesome condition and you could not buy a new one with the nice wooden legs anymore. I think his kids will enjoy it way more than I did.

I hope you enjoyed my beginning astronomy story!

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