Copyright © Gary W. Kronk
My earliest astronomy pictures were actually taken in 1968. I had an old Kodak Brownie camera that used 620 film. I had rigged the camera to allow me to keep the shutter open for as long as I wanted so I could take long exposures of the sky. The problem was that the lens was not interchangeable and was wide angle; however, I obtained just enough detail to whet my appetite for more.
I bought my first SLR 35mm camera while in high school in the early 1970s. Beginning with my 2.5-inch Jason-Empire refractor and continuing with my Criterion 6-inch Dynascope, I took many pictures of both the sun and Moon through the telescopes. Although the Criterion also had a clock-drive, I never shot pictures of anything else through it; however, I did rig up a camera mount that allowed me to use the Criterion to guide my 35mm camera with a 50mm, 135mm, or 75-205mm lens attached. During the remainder of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s I used this set up to take pictures of comets and star fields.
During the early 1990s I bought a camera tracking mount by Vista Intrument Co., which allowed me to use a camera tripod and my cameras to take shots of the sky. The mount tracked very well for periods of up to 20 minutes. I used this setup and the same lenses I had used for the last 15 years or so to take pictures of comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp during the period of 1996 and 1997.
My friend, Mark Brown, and I had gotten permission to use the Meyer-Womble Observatory for a week, which sat at the 14,193-foot mark on Mt. Evans in Colorado. The observatory was operated by the University of Denver and had an expensive SBIG (Santa Barbara Instrument Group) digital camera attached to the dual-aperture 28-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope. We imaged several comets with that camera. We also acquired images of Mars, which was then at its closest distance from Earth in several decades. Interestingly, Mark brought his much cheaper Philips ToUcam with him and we connected it to the telescope and acquired some amazing images of the red planet. When I got home I bought a Philips ToUcam for my telescope and began taking my own images of Mars, as well as other planets.
The observatory experience got me hungry for more. I bought a Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera in 2004 and began shooting pictures through my 5-inch refractor. In 2005, I bought a 20-cm Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain LX-200GPS telescope, as well as a MallinCam video camera designed to shoot video though telescopes. The MallinCam produced live images on a small television that I bought. But the best was yet to come. It did not take long for me to purchase additional components that I needed to feed the signal directly to my laptop computer and capture images. By late January 2006, I was obtaining images of deep sky objects and, on January 31, I was obtaining my first images of comets.
A big step came in September 2006, when I had Backyard Observatories build a 10-foot by 15-foot observatory in my backyard. I continued to upgrade to newer Canon digital cameras each year until I bought a Canon T2i in 2010. I liked this camera so much that I bought a second one and had it modified to be an astro camera, meaning that it was more sensitive to far red colors than a normal camera. I was set. During the next six years, I shot over ten thousand images at my observatory. In 2012, in preparation for retirement, my wife and I sold our house (and the observatory) and moved to Missouri and light pollution. I still have all of my equipment and hope to start imaging again some day soon. Meanwhile, I am providing samples of my images for the reader's enjoyment. Just follow the links below.
New General Catalog Objects