Astronomy in the City
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At the end of last year, I bought a telescope and started taking pictures through it, some of which I shared via Facebook. It sparked interest from friends, and a few people wanted to know how I got those pictures. I realized that even amateur astrophotography is something people can be inspired by, but also intimidated about attempting themselves. This blog is about my journey into astronomy and astrophotography, and the tips and tricks I learn along the way. It is also about sharing my passion for space, science, and the wonder that comes from looking up into the infinite sky.
When you look up on a clear night, you see the stars. When you photograph them, you see massive and colorful gaseous nebula, even in a light polluted city! Most astrophotography resources I have come across kept saying astrophotography is hard – stay away – don’t do it! Back in the days of film cameras, that was true. But we don’t live in that world anymore.
Here’s a dirty little secret for you: Astrophotography is only as hard as you make it! All astrophotography really means is taking pictures of the night sky. You only need a smartphone or point and shoot camera to participate. You don’t even need a telescope!
With just a little knowledge, you can take your own astro photos, and the rewards for even the easy stuff can be exhilarating. This realization inspired me to share my passion more broadly, and help you get involved yourself – no special equipment required!
Challenges of Urban Astronomy
The most obvious challenge of astronomy in the city is just seeing the stars through all the light pollution. Even so, you can see more than you might imagine. Astrophotography is also very much achievable.
So how do you stargaze in a city with 152 rainy days a year? This is called the SoggyAstronomer, but no, you don’t get wet! On average, Seattle has 294 cloudy or partly cloudy days a year. That leaves 71 days of clear skies, and is another good reason to work on a blog during a few of those other 294 nights. It may not be a hobby you can do whenever you would like, but that just makes those nights when it is clear that much more special.
I invite you to join me in exploring urban astronomy and astrophotography. I hope you come for the pretty pictures, stay for a little science, and hopefully take away a bit of inspiration!
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