mark_and_scopeIt takes perseverence and passion. Why else, on God’s green earth, would folks like me endure sleep deprivation, hypothermia, insects, and countless technical glitches to sit beside a lumbering telescope for hours and hours? Catching astronomical images requires endless attempts which go on for hours, often after traveling for miles to find a dark site. At times, all the effort pays off. My best evening ever was at a ranch just down the mountain from the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas. Clear, dark, dry, calm, and comfortably cool skies prevailed for the evening. I had perfect accommodations with a small lawn on which to set up, just yards away from the porch of our cabin. I spent the evening capturing exposures of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), which is one of my all-time favorite astronomical targets. Glorious.

Alas, every astrophotographer has a nightmare to remember. So painful are they that a man rarely volunteers these painful stories without some coaxing. Let’s just say that my version of Dante’s lowest hell was on the same mountain in Fort Davis, only at a slightly lower altitude. Nature laid a snare for me, replete with vampire mosquitoes, dense humidity and early dew, technical glitches that could only be explained in terms of the demonic, and light pollution from a fund-raiser bar-b-que for the local Democratic party. Our hosts could not have anticipated a week of heavy rain before our arrival. It was the west Texas desert, after all. They had neglected to inform us, however, of one minor detail: that a hundred sets of headlights would wreak havoc with the pristine night as a mediocre country and western band droned on and on whilst local politicos rubbed elbows and clinked longnecks. See, I’ve already revealed too much of this shame-laden tale of woe. I don’t cry often. Let’s just leave it at that.

This little website of mine is my portal–or peep hole–into the world of this newbie astrophotographer and the myriads of complexities involved. It is all about the passion, and the perseverence required to reap a harvest of photons from the heavens.