What is Astrophotography?

 Why do extra work when Wikipedia is a few clicks away?

Astrophotography is a specialized type of photography that entails recording images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky.

Sure, anyone with a grade 6 education can figure out that the term “Astro” and “Photography” means taking pictures of space related stuff, but NASA and other space agencies around the world have been doing that for years, right? Yes.. and no..

Sure, anyone with an IR camera can launch it into orbit (read: very few people.. sarcasm people..), and then take pictures of far far away galaxies (obligatory Star Wars reference). Below is an IR image of specific planet.. I wonder if the avid readers of this blog know which one? (hint: look at the file name!)

IR Earth

I’m not going to give you the answer this time.. it’s far too mind blowing to tell you that the above image is Earth. Dang it..

Completely different view then what you’re picturing in your head, right? Amazing that the detail we can see is completely different from the surface image of our blue marble (or pale blue dot, for those Carl Sagan fans out there). In my own opinion, this is not Astrophotography, this is just imaging stuff in space. Yes, that doesn’t make sense since technically it means the same thing, but in my mind, when I think of Astrophotography, I think of taking pictures through a telescope so that what you see, is what the photo portrays, like the below images:

ISS From Earth

Space Shuttle Discovery from Earth

Saturn From Earth

Credit to the above 3 images (not the IR image)

Now, just attaching an iPhone or similar device, or going all nerd-mode and getting a Digital SLR camera mount can all be ways of snapping photos like the above, but you need to do some maths. Sorry, yes, math is really a huge part of Astronomy, and Photography. There’s focal lengths, the micromovements of matching the rotating Earth to the orbits of objects, among other things I’m not even going to bullshit my way through, and have no idea how to further explain.. so go ask a photographer 🙂

Jeff Wilton

Jeff is the founder and owner of Everyday Science Stuff. ESS is a one man operation, with the core belief that all education should be served without crippling debt tuition, without revenue generating ads and without any restrictions of any kind such as paywalls, forced login and account creations, geographical restrictions, and so on.

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