Astrophotography - When Things Go Wrong

We have all produced some, perhaps many, bad images. The images on this web site might give the false impression that it is easy or that only very accomplished if not professional astrophotographers can produce such images. That is not true. It is true that most of us have learned many things the hard way but experience and "how to" can be shared. This page provides actual images taken by members of the club which show common errors that most of us have made and overcome. We continue to make some of these errors but modern digital photography yields immediate results and the ability to try again. These examples are provided to let you identify a problem you may be experiencing and provide some basic hints to correct or avoid the problem. Under each image we have provided the name (email contact) of a club member who is willing to mentor you on the problem and how to correct or avoid it.

Light Polluted Skies

Light Polluted Skies

Light Polluted Skies

Image of the Rosette Nebula taken under heavily light polluted skies. The overall yellow hew on the image is due to various light sources in and around any urban setting, even in Flagstaff where low pressure sodium street lighting is common.

Although image processing can reduce such effects, a narrow band pass filter that excludes most of the offending wavelengths, would be far more effective and produce a higher contrast and better color balanced image. CheckNebulae Gallery 4in the Photo section of our website for an image of the Rosette taken with a similar telescope and an IDAS LPS-V4 narrow band pass filter.

Contributed by . . .Klaus Brasch

The following was retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
on February 28, 2016


"Astrophotography is a specialized type of photography for recording images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky. The first photograph of an astronomical object (the Moon) was taken in 1840, but it was not until the late 19th century that advances in technology allowed for detailed stellar photography. Besides being able to record the details of extended objects such as the Moon, Sun, and planets, astrophotography has the ability to image objects invisible to the human eye such as dim stars, nebulae, and galaxies. This is done by long time exposure since both film and digital cameras can accumulate and sum light photons over these long periods of time. Photography revolutionized the field of professional astronomical research, with long time exposures recording hundreds of thousands of new stars and nebulae that were invisible to the human eye, leading to specialized and ever larger optical telescopes that were essentially big cameras designed to collect light to be recorded on film. Direct astrophotography had an early role in sky surveys and star classification but over time it has given way to more sophisticated equipment and techniques designed for specific fields of scientific research, with film (and later astronomical CCD cameras) becoming just one of many forms of sensor.

Astrophotography is a large sub-discipline in amateur astronomy where it is usually used to record aesthetically pleasing images, rather than for scientific research, with a whole range of equipment and techniques dedicated to the activity."

The license terms of this written work from Wikipedia may be found at

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