My Top 10 2019 Astro Photos

It’s always fun to look back and see your own growth when it comes to your hobby, or craft. 2019 was technically my first year of doing astrophotography with a DSLR, as up until late 2018, I was using an iPhone to do the pictures through an eyepiece.

These are the photos from 2019 that some of which I’m still proud of as of this writing. Many of them would eventually get better “versions” as my skills and dedication progressed.

Before we go through the top 10… here are some Honorable Mentions!

2019 Top 10

Lunar Eclipse 2019

This one was taken during a hosted public event held at Arlington Heights Sports Park in Riverside, CA. I allowed many people to hold their phones up to my telescope and take smartphone pictures of the eclipse, and then adapted my newly purchased Nikon d5300 to put their cell phone shots to shame. While the color and detail in this picture is great, upon further inspection, I could tell by looking at the background star that it’s not quite as sharply focused as it could have been.

M42 – Orion Nebula over Joshua Tree National Park

Taken in February of 2019, this was my first DSLR picture of the Orion Nebula. It’s only a single 90-120 second exposure, and I remember just being more blown away with what I could actually see in the quick image. It was also so cold that night, that it cooled the camera sensor significantly to the point where it allowed me to shoot at over 2000 ISO. But obviously better images of this object would follow!

Moonset over Mojave Desert

Taken at Amboy Crater, CA, this one was more of a “surprise” shot, and wasn’t planned. I just happened to notice the thin waxing crescent moon about to set, quickly got the 300mm telephoto lens attached to the Nikon d5300 on the tripod, and did a quick 3 second shot. It turned out to be better than any telescopic shot I took that night. This one still remains one of my best shots… ever!

Notice how much dimmer that a magnitude ~8 Neptune appears next to a magnitude 4 star (Phi Aquarii). Triton is barely at the limit of detect-ability through an 8″ Telescope.

This shot of Neptune next to Phi Aquarii was done using a 2x Barlow Lens on my 1000mm focal length Newtonian to make my focal length 2000mm, giving it an 83x magnification image. As it is currently as of this writing my only picture of one of the two ice giants in our solar system, this is one I still fall back to show anyone curious how small and dim Neptune actually appears in the sky. The fact that the seeing was good enough to expose Triton in the picture was icing on the cake.

M65, M66, and NGC 3628 – The Leo Triplet

My first “jab” at the Leo Triplet, which is super noisy due to the high ISO I was shooting with. I was more happy that “hey, I got the target, and it looks like three galaxies… awesome! The field rotation due to not so accurate polar alignment is evident here as well.

M16 – Eagle Nebula

I wasn’t initially impressed with this 90-120 second image showcasing M16, because I didn’t realize until I processed it later that I captured the famous “Pillars of Creation” that the Hubble made famous. While you can definitely see the background stars showing backlash issues, at least the centerpiece if you will got showcased!

Telescopes set up on the campground, 5/3/2019

I liked this picture because it is an interesting shot showcasing the star party I hosted on May 3. It was one of the few times I had more than one person with a telescope at my disposal, and everyone who attended had a blast. I like the lighting from Jim’s tripod red lights, and the sight of my father, who is just to the right of Jim’s telescope.

The Horsehead Nebula

This single 10 minute exposure taken in December of 2019 was a lucky guided exposure given that somehow my SkyView Mount didn’t give me backlash issues like it normally did. While I ended up constructing a much better and clearer version later, this was one of the images that set my standards higher when I realized what I could do.

M45 – The Pleiades 12/19/2019

Another one from 12/19/2019 because again… it was my first night using an autoguider to get longer sub exposures. Though I wasn’t quite getting into layering and stacking, this 5-10 minute exposure of the Pleiades was of course a delight, as it always is.

M42 – Orion Nebula

Okay… last one from 12/19/2019… another one showing the Orion Nebula, which would eventually set the goal for showcasing more of the outer nebula while contrasting it against the blackness of space.

But of course… you should see how much better I got when you check up upon my top 10 best of 2020 showcase – which will be MUCH harder to choose from!

Remember to Keep Looking Up!

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