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Quick review of few recent astrophotography books

Astrophotography is an interesting and complex hobby. There is a lot of tutorials on the web but usually they focus on one topic and general overview is what is missing. Such complex astrophotography overview can be handled by a good book - but does books are able to keep up with the flow of new technologies and astrophotography techniques development? I've decided to check it out and ordered few more recent books about astrophotography. Here is a short review of them.

OpenSource Astrophotography 2.2: Your first low cost astro photo from your backyard; Karl Sarnow

OpenSource Astrophotography

OpenSource Astrophotography

It's a small book published in 2013 with 137 black and white pages. As the title suggests it's about Open Source software in astrophotography - in terms of apps used and Linux as the operating system. The book starts with standard astrophotography introduction to then move to KStars, Stellarium, GIMP or INDI tutorials.

Table of Contents

In case of GIMP we get few short tutorials on how to get more details from our images, how to remove a light pollution gradient and more (just be careful to not degrade your image to 8-bit version). In case of INDI there is a KStars and Stellarium mount control tutorial as well as installation and Linux tips and tricks.

The book is quite good although nowadays we have bit more Linux apps. If you want only Linux and only Open Source apps then this is a good introduction into the basics. In terms of hardware recommendation and book narration it's bit odd that the author strongly limited himself to using only consumer cameras (and budget astronomy hardware) where as listing new consumer DSLR cameras priced from few hundred to few thousand EUR isn't the best thing to do (it's neither a Canon DSLR nor a ZWO/QHY/Touptek more affordable DS imaging camera). So in terms of hardware don't treat it to seriously as it's bit outdated.

Removing a gradient

Removing a gradient

Consumer cameras list with astrophotography potential

Consumer cameras list with astrophotography potential

Scientific Astrophotography: How Amateurs Can Generate and Use Professional Imaging Data; Gerald R. Hubbell

Scientific Astrophotography

This is a much bigger book, published in 2013 with 330 pages. It focuses on scientific and professional approach to amateur astrophotography. If you are interested in image analysis, supporting research projects then this book may be for you.

The book is written for readers with at least good understanding of astrophotography and astronomy. Yo will get a lot of equations and complex procedures not to mention high end astrographs and scientific grade cameras.

Scientific Astrophotography - Table of Contents
Scientific Astrophotography - Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The book starts with introduction into CCD imaging to then move into mounts and ways to set them up (using one of many methods), correcting tracking errors and more. Next we have accessories - filters (including photometric filters), planetary equipment, spectroscopes, field correctors and flatteners, atmospheric dispersion correctors and alike. After that we get more practical with full astrograph builds - what are the best builds for given task and how to use them. The book ends with image analysis and ways to submit your work and/or help scientists in their research projects.

The book will not tell you how to make better looking astrophotographs and the hardware used on average is high end with scientific imaging in mind. What's in the book is rather well written. Complex procedures are broken down into easily readable steps... and of course planetary imaging got the very short end of the stick. The books uses arbitrary f/ratios and focal lengths as the author assumes that the reader will still use large pixels like those in old webcams and old planetary cameras. With modern small pixel sensors information there aren't completely valid.

One of few ways to align your mount

One of few ways to align your mount

This book can be recommended to people interested in image analysis and those seeking either theoretical backend of astrophotography or procedures on how to setup an efficient astrograph.

Planetary imaging got the short end of the stick...

Planetary imaging got the short end of the stick...

The Astrophotography Manual: A Practical and Scientific Approach to Deep Sky Imaging; Chris Woodhouse

The Astrophotography Manual

This book could be treated as the missing part of the previous one. On 430 pages published in 2017 author describes how to get best looking photos - with lots of PixInsight processing flows.

The Astrophotography Manual Table of Contents

Table of Contents

We start with the usual hardware introduction although some effort went into describing automation and mini-observatory setups. Main topic is image processing with PixInsight. At first we get the generic workflows and tips from the author to then go over few night sky objects like M27 nebula or M3 globular cluster which author uses to describe imaging and processing photos of objects of given type. Some processing flows can have a lot of steps so prepare for quite high level of complexity in this book - you likely should be familiar with PixInsight and basics of DS image processing.

Image processing
Image processing

Image processing

M27 imaging and processing
M27 imaging and processing

M27 imaging and processing

Astrophotography; Thierry Legault

Astrophotography; Thierry Legault

This is a quite interesting book. First published in 2013 it consists of bit over 200 pages on which author tries to capture a fine balance between level of detail and reader friendliness. It's compatible with beginners yet it will also explain why you really don't need more than 8-bit for planetary imaging.

Astrophotography - Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The book starts with taking astronomical photos without a telescope. That includes star trails, comets, meteors or Milky Way imaging. Next we get an introduction into dedicated cameras and how consumer, planetary and DS cameras differ from each other. After that we get some info on image calibration (signal, noise and dark/bias/flat processing and theory).

Photographic part is started with a Solar System imaging chapter. It's quite detailed, showcases WinJUPOS, Autostakkert or even stereo images. Sun got it own chapter, just like DS imaging – with has more info on mount and telescope picks, tracking/guiding and then taking photos. This book covers a lot although it doesn't provide tutorials on how to do all things - like you won't find a practical full tutorial on image processing. You will be just pointed in the right direction how to do it. It'a good overview for new and somewhat experienced photographers that want to get some answers.

Telescopes for planetary imaging

Telescopes for planetary imaging

DS image processing

DS image processing

Those books can be found online and likely in some of book stores near you. Some are also available in digital form.

RkBlog

Astronomy and Astrophotography, 19 August 2019, Piotr Maliński

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