Best Astrophotography Books : Getting started with imaging the night sky

Many of subscribers here on my website are asking me how to start in Astrophotograhpy and how to improve their images. I try always the best i can to help them and answer them, but the ultimate solution is certainely to start on a solid knowledge : Read an astrophotography book. A book contains all the necessary informations : from choosing the equipement (telsecope, camera, mount, …) to how to you use it, to how to shoot the night sky and finally how to process correctly the pictures.

Actually there are many books available on the market. I personally read many of them, and here’s my personal selection of the best books of astrophotography :

Astrophotography by Thierry Legault

Nowadays, astronomers and astrophotographers can take really great pictures of the night sky using basic to advanced equipement. And that’s what Thierry Legault will try to teach in his book : Astrophotography.

Thierry Legault is one of the most famous french astromers and astrophotographers. He is mainly known to for his amazing pictures of the ISS (International Space Station) and the thinnest crecent of the Moon.

In this one of the best books on astrophotography, Legault will show his techniques of astrophotography, from a simple DSLR camera on tripod (for example to capture constellations, star trails, eclipses, …) to more complicated shots using a telescope and a motorised mount.

In this amazing book he will also show to process astrophotography images in order to obtain a great pictures.

The book Astrophotography provides the most thorough treatment of the topic available. This large-format, richly and highly illustrated book is intended for all sky enthusiasts-newcomers and veterans alike.

In this book you will learn :

  • How to choose the right equipement according to what you are planning to shoot.
  • How to correctly set up your camera (CCD, DSLR) and also your telescope.
  • How to plan your session of astrophotography using some celestial tools like Stellatrium or Carte de ciel.
  • How to mount and connect your camera on your telescope and how to focus (using bahtinov mask, FWHM measurement, …)
  • How to do a precise polar alignment in order to improve the tracking.
  • How to capture a star trails and time lapse of the night sky.
  • How to calculate optimal parameters like focal length, exposure time, field of view, …
  • How to process you pictures in the most know softwares like Autostakkert, Registax, Photoshop, …
  • How to identify common problems in your astronomy images and how to fix and improve them.

Buy Astrophotography by Thierry Legault on Amazon


Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography

This astrophotography book is a primer and a fully-formed,practical guide for entering the world of long exposure astrophotography. Allan Hall’s Getting Started: Long Exposure astrophotography brings the rewarding pursuit of stellar imaging to your bedside table. Withacademic flare and his signature approachability, Hall utilizes a suiteof formats to provide readers with everything they need to begin – anddevelop. From charts, images, purchasing guides, walkthroughs anddetailed descriptions, this Getting Started title is an in-depth resource for today’s astrophotographer at any level of their discipline.

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Leading up to an incredibly useful list of the first twenty-five objects anastrophotographer might image with long exposures, this Getting Started title also offers a range of equipment advice and grounded descriptions of why certain phenomenon occur – as well as what they will mean foryou and your shoots.

Though founded in the clarity and precision of science and photography, astrophotography can nonetheless be one of the most artistic and even sensual crafts, as well as one of the most daunting. A road map is essential when pursuing a rich experience imaging and cataloguing the night sky. Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography, with over 200 illustrations, images, charts and graphs bolstering its clear and instructive text, takes readers from practical equipment purchases, savvy preparations, andunderstanding of heavenly bodies, with the proper – and smart – ways tocapture their expansive sight, intimate motion, and breathtakingportraitry.

From purchasing your first astrophotography telescope, hooking up yourcamera, taking long exposure images, and finally processing thatfinished image, this book is rich with provisions and tips. Hallexpertly balances his own procedures with general and inclusive guidesfrom set-up to software recommendations.

So, if you have ever wanted to take photographs of glowing nebulae, spiralgalaxies and shimmering star clusters, this is the reference you want on your desk as well as with you out under the sky.

A journey begins, with Hall exploring in-depth details of field rotationand focusing methods, as well as explaining not just the what and how,but the ever important why. So you won’t just follow instructions for multiple image stacking, you’ll understand the effect and craft ofit. And the descriptions of atmospheric phenomenon affecting imagingwon’t end there, but lead you to experiments in which you can observeand understand.

For today’s astrophotographers, access is key. Encouragingly, there is more than ever in many ways. From the quality of equipment that you canpurchase to the ready availability of software and meteorologicalinformation, it’s a photographer’s dream in many ways. Let thisunprecedented scenario work for you, whether you’re looking to take your first photos or enhance your development as a long-exposure cosmiccurator.

From start to finish, Allan Hall’s Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography book is your comprehensive resource, taking you from entrance toexpertise in the rewarding field of astrophotography – with a focus onthe long exposure element that makes for such memorable, lifelong pieces of photography.

Buy Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotography by Allan Hall on Amazon


Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography by Allan Hall

Allan Hall makes learning how to photograph the night sky easy with his new Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography book. In this guide, you will learn the fundamentals ofastrophotography – what it is, how it’s done, and how to do it yourself. Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography is divided into these three sections in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the basics of astrophotography.

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The first section of Hall’s guide focuses on understandingastrophotography. Amateur and professional stargazers know that one ofthe most important things to consider when viewing the heavens is lightpollution. Light pollution is exactly what it sounds like – too muchlight in our environments makes it more difficult to get a good look atplanets, stars, and other celestial bodies. If you want to get the bestview and photo possible, you must find a location that has little light. This makes a huge difference. In addition to finding a good locationfor viewing and shooting, you will learn about camera basics, includinghow to mount a camera and focus a lens. Beyond that, you will read about various types of telescopes and what they do.

The title of the second segment of this reference guide speaks for itself.Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of location, cameras, andtelescopes, it’s time to put your knowledge to use. This sectiondiscusses how to find targets, as in how to find objects of interest toshoot. From capturing images to camera and exposure settings, you willlearn how to make the most of our instruments and location by taking agreat shot. This section also discusses making videos,  image stacking,and image editing, an important aspect of astrophotography. Many of thecelestial shots we see are time-lapse or edited in some way (to improveclarity and reduce  visual “noise”). While it may sound difficult, thisreference guide simplifies the processes by providing step-by-stepinstructions.

For the handy homeastrophotographer, this section includes information aboutdo-it-yourself projects. From modifying your equipment (for example,improving your focus capabilities, modifying a webcam forastrophotography, and even adapting your laptop screen to function inthe dark) to building add-ons, you’ll learn how to enhance yourexperience in your own home. Hall provides information about creatingglass solar filters for your cameras and even making your own dewheaters.

The Getting Started: Budget Astrophotographybook is a great reference guide for beginners and amateurastrophotographers. If you have an interest in astronomy and want tocapture what you’ve viewed through a telescope, doing so is possiblefrom your own home. Hall’s comprehensive guide also provides ideas about where to start (as in, what targets are best to photograph), where tofind more information about astrophotography, and even a glossary ofterms. Indulge your hobby and learn how to improve with Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography.

Buy Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography by Allan Hall on Amazon


The Astrophotography Manual: A Practical and Scientific Approach to Deep Space Imaging

The Astrophotography Manual is for those photographers who aspire to move beyond using standard SLR cameras and editing software, and who are ready to create beautiful images of nebulas, galaxies, clusters, and the solar system. Beginning with a brief astronomy primer, this book takes readers through the full astrophotography process, from choosing and using equipment through image capture, calibration, and processing. This combination of technical background information and the hands-on approach brings the science down to earth with a practical method to plan for success. Features include:

  • Over 400 images, graphs, and tables to illustrate these concepts
  • A wide range of hardware to be used, including smartphones, tablets, and the latest mount technologies
  • How to utilize a variety of leading software such as Maxim DL, Nebulosity, Sequence Generator Pro, Photoshop, and PixInsight
  • Case studies showing how and when to use certain tools and overcoming technical challenges
  • How sensor performance and light pollution relate to image quality and exposure planning
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Buy The Astrophotography Manual: A Practical and Scientific Approach to Deep Space Imaging 1st Edition on Amazon


Budget Astrophotography: Imaging with Your DSLR or Webcam

Here are clear explanations of how to make superb astronomical deep-sky images using only a DSLR or webcam and an astronomical telescope – no expensive dedicated CCD cameras needed!

The book is written for amateur astronomers interested in budget astrophotography – the deep sky, not just the Moon and planets – and for those who want to improve their imaging skills using DSLR and webcams. It is even possible to use existing (non-specialist astronomical) equipment for scientific applications such as high resolution planetary and lunar photography, astrometry, photometry, and spectroscopy.

The introduction of the CCD revolutionized astrophotography. The availability of this technology to the amateur astronomy community has allowed advanced science and imaging techniques to become available to almost anyone willing to take the time to learn a few, simple techniques. Specialized cooled-chip CCD imagers are capable of superb results in the right hands – but they are all very expensive. If budget is important, the reader is advised on using a standard camera instead.

Jensen provides techniques useful in acquiring beautiful high-quality images and high level scientific data in one accessible and easy-to-read book. It introduces techniques that will allow the reader to use more economical DSLR cameras – that are of course also used for day-to-day photography – to produce images and data of high quality, without a large cash investment.

Buy Budget Astrophotography: Imaging with Your DSLR or Webcam (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series) 2015th Edition on Amazon


Astrophotography : Deep sky and planetary imaging

In astrophotography there are 2 main caterogies : Deep sky and planetary. Deep sky imaging relates to photography of far objects like Galaxies, Nebulas, Stars, Star clusters and Supernovas. The second category, Planetary imaging, is about near objects : The Moon and the planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune)

For each of these 2 categories, the equipement and the processing of capturing images and processing them is different.

Deep Sky Astrophotography

For the astrophotography of the deep sky we have to use a long exposure photography. That means that the camera (DSLR or CCD) have to collect photons from the DSO (deep sky object) for a period of time between 30 seconds to 600 seconds of more, depending on many parameters like the mount, the autoguiding quality, the sky, …

Planetary Astrophotography

Planets and the moon are bright, visible (most of them) to the naked eye. So we have no need to do long exposure. Instead, we have to capture short exposure pictures and we have to capture hundred / thousand of them in order to avoid atmospheric turbulence and to improve nosie / signal ratio.

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  1. February 28, 2018

    […] this one of the best astrophotography books, Legault will show his techniques of astrophotography, from a simple DSLR camera on tripod (for […]

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