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My name is Tom O'Donoghue and I've been taking pictures of the night sky for seven years now. What began as a hobby has turned into an obsession. Ever since I read an Astronomy Magazine as a teenager I was hooked on Astronomy, in particular the images of the Eagle, Triffid, Orion, Pleiades and Horsehead Nebula. I knew one day I wanted to try imaging these objects. In 2005 I bought an 8 Inch Meade SCT. I started my imaging with this scope and a DSLR. My results were not what I remember seeing in the magazines in my youth. I then realized that this hobby was a bit more difficult than I first thought. After lots of study and practice, the pics started to show some promise.
In 2006 I purchased a Williams Optics 80mm Fluorite scope which I used for the Deep Sky Imaging, and my first CCD camera, the ATK16. The CCD camera was much more sensitive but the field of view was very small compared to the DSLR. It did allow me to try narrowband imaging from the back-garden in the suburbs of Dublin, Ireland.
I took my first trip to France for a week in July 2007. I had a clear run of 7/7 nights imaging in dark skies. July nights in Ireland tend not to reach astronomical darkness, or at best for an hour. However from Les Granges in the south of France I was able to image for approx 4 hours every night, due to the site being 9 degrees lower in latitude, which mean there was darkness from about 11:30pm until 3:30am.
In 2008, I bought a Takahashi FSQ106N and ATK314L CCD camera. Since then I have taken a few trips back to France for more imaging. There is now a large format 4MB CCD camera at the location in France that I go to, which allows me to image the larger objects in the sky. The 15x15 inch prints for sale on my website were taken with this camera.
In May 2010 I sold the Atik 314L and filters and bought the Atik 11000 large format CCD camera. This is a 35mm size CCD chip camera and is a great match for the FSQ wide flat-field telescope. This set up gives me the ability to print a single frame at a size if 30x20 inches. The new large prints for sale on the site were taken with the Atk11000 and FSQ set up.
A few months later in August 2010, I decided to move to the Almanzora valley in the South of Spain to build up a portfolio of Astronomical images. The Almanzora valley is in the desert in Spain, and at a latitude of 37 degrees North, many new objects are available for imaging. My location is over 1000m and in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada's. The climate is dry and hot with many clear nights all year around, allowing me the time to concentrate on obtaining as much data as I can for each project or image. I’m renting a house in the valley and while I don’t have an observatory there, I leave the equipment out each night, which allows a quick start on the following night. I will be returning to Ireland throughout the year for exhibitions, astronomy weekends, and other events. In June 2011, I had my first exhibition in Dublin. I had 10 pieces on show, 2 of which were 30x20 inches from my new set up in Spain. In 2012 I hope to have a bigger exhibition with many more 30x20 inch framed photographs.
Please feel free to contact me via mail ([email protected]) for any queries on imaging, processing, and the pics themselves. Without so many other Astrophotographers who passed along tips and info I would still be in the dark so to speak on this hobby.
My pictures have been published in the following magazines; Astronomy Irelands' "Astronomy and Space", The BBC's "The Sky At Night", "Astronomy Now", the French "Astronomie Magazine", and "Practical Astronomer".
I can be contacted at [email protected] for any queries about my equipment, purchasing/licensing my images, or about anything to do with image processing in general!
Hope you enjoy my site!