Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), inventor of the daguerreotype photographic process, was the first to attempt to photograph an astronomical object in 1839. It was unsuccessful because telescope tracking errors during the long exposure time caused the moon to appear in the image as a fuzzy, indistinct spot. A year later, John William Draper (1811-1882) was the first to successfully take an ‘astrophotograph’ – a detailed photo of a full moon taken from the rooftop observatory of New York University on March 23, 1840, using a 5-inch (13 cm) reflecting telescope and 20 minute long exposure. Later 19th century advances in technology allowed photographing of celestial objects that revolutionized astronomical research at the time by recording images of stars invisible to the human eye.
Photographing astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky (“astrophotography”) has become a popular hobby among amateur astronomers and photographers around the world as images can be obtained with the most basic film and digital cameras, plus only a tripod for some of the simpler photos such as ‘star trails’ (individual stars show as streaks across the image as in this article feature photo by Andrew Preble CC0). Getting the best shots, however, does take some know-how.
Get how-to tips on night sky photography technique from National Parks photographer Chris Nicholson in this video presentation: “Shooting Stars: How to Photograph Night Skies”. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the video post on the media player below ↓
Matt Hill joins Chris Nicholson in this step-by-step guide to ‘painting with light, including live demos, in the video presentation: ‘Illuminating the Night: Everything You Want to Know About Light Painting. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the video post on the media player below ↓
Watch “Understanding Astrophotography with Christopher Witt and Todd Vorenkamp” video presentation, and you’ll be shooting stars in no time. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the video post on the media player below ↓
Photography Tips to Capture the Night Sky by Andy Porter, the National Forest Foundation (May 27, 2016)
10 Things: How to Photograph a Meteor Shower, NASA
Travel, sports and outdoor photography tips from the pros
Find the best locations and experience the night sky teeming with glittering stars
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The star trails feature photo is courtesy of Andrew Preble/Unsplash CC0