In winter, I image stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies, usually with the same Nikon DSLR camera I take to air shows but replacing the lens with a telescope. For deep sky astrophotography, my technique is to take multiple exposures of several minutes each and then integrate them into a single image.

My pictures have been published in thirteen issues of the BBC Sky at Night Magazine, who selected one as their picture of the month in February 2013. My image of Jupiter was shortlisted in the Royal Observatory’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year Competition 2014.

Andromeda Galaxy

At 2.5 million light years away, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way. Under dark skies, it can be seen as a faint smudge with the naked eye.

Andromeda Galaxy

December 2018 at Shorewell, Isle of Wight and August 2020 at Crawley, Sussex. Nikon D7000 DSLR; TS 65mm quad refractor. 7 hours exposure.

Whirlpool Galaxy

Messier M51 is a spiral galaxy interacting with its neighbour NGC 5195. It is about 23 million light years away, close enough to be able to record individual star-forming regions within the spiral arms.

Whirlpool Galaxy

March 2020 at Brighstone, Isle of Wight. Nikon D7000 DSLR; Meade 5000 127mm triplet refractor. 3 hours exposure.

Heart Nebula

One of the few astronomical objects that looks like its name, the Heart Nebula is a region of ionised hydrogen gas in the constellation Cassiopeia. The Sky at Night Magazine published this picture in the astrophotography gallery of their February 2019 issue.

Heart Nebula

7th October 2018 at Brighstone, Isle of Wight. Nikon D7000 DSLR; TS 65mm quad refractor. 4 hours exposure.

Lunar Eclipse at Totality

At totality, the Moon is thousands of times dimmer than an uneclipsed moon. The sky darkens as the eclipse progresses and more stars become visible. With a telescope, stars are even discernible close-by; an area that would normally be swamped by the glare of the full moon.

Lunar Eclipse at Totality

21st January 2019 at Crawley, Sussex. Nikon D7000 DSLR; Meade 5000 127mm triplet refractor. 15 second exposure.

Gibbous Moon, in colour

I processed this image in colour to highlight the diverse mineral composition of the lunar maria, presenting itself as subtle shades of brown and blue. As the Moon approaches its full phase, the rays of bright ejecta thrown out by the larger craters during their formation become visible, particular across the maria. Astrophotography is a balance between science and art: images can reveal interesting detail but should still look appealing.

Gibbous Moon, in colour

15th February 2019 at Crawley, Sussex. Nikon D7000 DSLR; Meade 5000 127mm triplet refractor. 1/160 second exposure.

Iris Nebula

A bright reflection nebula in Cepheus surrounded by dark nebulae.

Iris Nebula

4th October 2018 at Brighstone, Isle of Wight. Nikon D7000 DSLR; TS 65mm quad refractor. 4 hours exposure.

Monoceros

This three-degree sweep of the constellation of Monoceros boasts many types of deep sky objects including dark nebulae, red hydrogen emission nebulae, a blue reflection nebula and a variable nebula. For me, the highlight is the open star cluster, Trumpler 5, towards the bottom of the scene. Most open clusters are blue, indicating the young age of their members, but this cluster is large enough to have held itself together while its stars aged and cooled to a beautiful orange hue.

Monoceros

9th December 2018 at Shorewell, Isle of Wight. TS 65mm quad refractor. 4.5 hours exposure.

Flaming Star Nebula

The Flaming Star Nebula and its smaller neighbour are set within a swathe of red ionised hydrogen gas not normally visible to the naked eye but revealed by astrophotography. With all this red, my camera still succeeded in recording the contrasting star colours—blue, white and orange—that show us their surface temperatures.

Flaming Star Nebula

15th October 2017 at Brighstone, Isle of Wight. TS 65mm quad refractor. 2.5 hours exposure.

Running Man Nebula

This is often overlooked in favour of the Orion Nebula, its brighter neighbour. To me, it resembles a man skipping over the smoke rising from the nebulae below it.

Running Man Nebula

25th November 2017 at Crawley, Sussex. Nikon D7000 DSLR; Meade 5000 127mm triplet refractor. 4.5 hours exposure.

Jupiter, thirty minutes

This montage demonstrates how fast Jupiter rotates. I took these images thirty minutes apart. They each include Jupiter moon’s Io and Ganymede. With this image, I was shortlisted for the Royal Observatory’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year Competition 2014.

Jupiter, Thirty Minutes

Celestron Skyris 618C camera; Celestron C11 Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope.

Saturn, Five Years

Another montage, this time showing how Saturn’s tilt changes over the years as observed from Earth. I took these five pictures between 2011 and 2015.

Saturn, Five Years

Celestron Skyris 618C camera; Celestron C11 Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope.

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