Friday 7th December 2012 – Paul Evans Astrophotography


Paul Evans once travelled to Australia to take photographs of a solar eclipse. It lasted for precisely thirty two seconds but Paul reckoned the round trip of almost twenty five thousand miles was worth it. So he went again – twice!

The lure of astrophotography beckoned to Paul from an early age; he was only ten when he was given The Observer’s Book of Astronomy and a simple camera and on Friday evening he shared his enthusiasm for his pursuit with the  Club – illustrating his absorbing talk with many illustrations. Using his eight inch telescope as a focal point he demonstrated the means by which the celestial images can be catured by the camera lens ,either indirectly via the viewfinder or through the telescopic mirror.

There are, as he pointed out, some difficulties to be overcome before one can expect satisfactory results. Given the (literally) astronomical distances involved more than usual magnification is required so long telephoto lenses are needed. Even then some of the more remote galaxies may appear no more than a swirl on the camera sensor but given that the image had taken two and a half million years to reach earth it is still capable of producing a sense of awe and wonder.

The earth’s rotation presents another problem as even a small movement of the stars or planets would be noticeable in the photograph ; this Paul overcomes by the use of an electro-mechanical device attached to the telescope. This measures the amount of movement and compensates by adjusting the telescope accordingly. This enables the camera to capture remarkably clear images of starfields, comets, meteors and even the craters of the moon. Two of the most memorable pictures showed the planet Saturn, complete with its  rings and the encircling Mir Space Station as it passed overhead in space.

An enthralling evening and one which left the members with stars in their eyes.

John Bennett

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