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recommended book on astrophotography

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#1 cbutterworth

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:39 PM

I am new to astrophotography and would like recommendations that suitable books.

 

What I'd like is a comprehensive book that could cater for the beginner through the experienced.

 

Any ideas?

 

Thanks,

Charlie



#2 gotak

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:47 PM

The internet's the ultimate book really why spend money on buying one?



#3 wrnchhead

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:52 PM

I am just parroting what I have read here, everyone will recommend https://agenaastro.c...ed-bracken.html

 

I haven't bought it myself yet, but plan to some day. 



#4 Stelios

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:06 PM

The internet's the ultimate book really why spend money on buying one?

 

Totally disagree. My advice is to spend money and buy one. "The Internet" is a very unreliable book, with a ton of contradictory and confusing advice. 

 

One of the best books is the often recommended (with just reason) Deep Sky Imaging Primer. It is an excellent guide to understanding the hobby, and offers a strong section on processing images using two of the overwhelmingly most popular software.

 

An easier book, for the *absolute beginner* (which I was when I started--I had zero idea of what was involved, and had only done point-and-shoot camera casual photography) is Getting Started - Long Exposure Astrophotography. If the previous book is a theory of warfare, this is the view from the man in the trenches, with all the little dirty details of his life. It's a bit dated now, but it gives you a good understanding of what the hobby entails. Don't rush out and buy his equipment (other than the mount, still an excellent option), and ignore his processing alternatives--but this book will make you appreciate what it's like.

 

Be sure to also look at the website of Jerry Lodriguss. He is a member here, a superb astrophotographer, and he explains everything beautifully. Unfortunately he makes his books only available as downloads or CD's, so if you want something to hold that isn't it. His advice (on his website) is very good. His books on planetary imaging are really great.


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#5 cbutterworth

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:11 PM

There is great info on the internet, but sometimes, I just want to be disconnected from it with a glass of good scotch and some quiet music, and something to read.

 

Charlie


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#6 gotak

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:23 PM

Well each to their own but astro-photography isn't a spectator sport. Much as anything can be written down, the written word has a lot of limitations (a fact that my overly articulated technical professional life knows only too well). You might find that reading only tells you so much of what you need to know.

 

Anyhow if the internet's an unreliable book what's to say that a book book is reliable? The opinion of one person on the internet? The opinion of dozens? Hundred? How is that different from reading what's on the internet? Heck even research papers often contradict each other after extensive peer review no less.

 

Finally, is there only one way to skin a cat? For processing images there are many ways as there are software packages. For image capture alone there are at least 3 I can think of without trying at all. What is a book worth under those circumstances? 

 

LOL, I maybe asking about a more philosophical question than a practical one. However, I am a firm believer that one should make up one's mind based on the scientific principle. As such anything in a book is still open to questioning! Which might seem a lot of work as the world's changing everyday so you would revisit your own believes regularly, but it is I think the right way to approach life in a changing world.


Edited by gotak, 15 April 2019 - 02:35 PM.

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#7 stargazer60

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:28 PM

I agree with Wrnchhead, I was in the same situation you are now.  I purchased "The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer" by Charles Bracken very good read.  I learned a lot from his book. There are many books out there I also have "A Beginner's Guide to DSLR Astrophotography" by Jerry Lodriguss bought it from Amazon the digital version I keep it on my astrophotography laptop for future reference. I bought it because I started out using a DSLR with my telescope.  Both are great books.  That is my 2 cents worth.  Have a great day.


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#8 rgsalinger

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 03:51 PM

The best thing you can do to learn astro-photography is to get a mentor. The second best thing is to get the book in the previous post and use your equipment. At least buy a copy of Sequence Generator Pro. It's the best software for the buck that you can buy. There are more complex programs and cheaper easier to use programs but IMHO SGP is what to start with. Next find a mentor (did I mention that?). The easiest way to find a mentor is to join your local club and look like you need help or ask for it!

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#9 mohitk

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:35 PM

Newbie here. These are just some of the books I bought that I have found useful:

 

Getting Started : Long Exposure Photography

 

The Deep Sky Imaging Primer

 

The Astrophotography Manual

 

If you have access to a library that has these books that would be ideal - then you can peruse them and see if there are one or more books that you might actually want to buy, or perhaps keep borrowing! :-)



#10 fewayne

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:45 PM

+1 on Bracken. I recommend him all the time. Does a great job IMHO of explaining why long exposures are important, for example, in deep-sky work, and exactly how and why stacking produces better signal/noise. Equipment selection, difference between deep-sky and planetary, exposing, guiding, processing, good targets to start with...pretty much the whole works.

 

A mentor is a great idea if you happen to find one, but a good book is still a really useful resource. For one thing a book won't mind when you forget the answer to a question for the fourth time and have to ask it again.



#11 Ballyhoo

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:48 PM

I have learned a lot more by watching videos. Yeah I have been castigated for not reading the Primer enough but when it comes to PI, for example, or it could apply to any imaging software, watching someone actually do it on youtube is just not something you can not get as well in the Primer. YouTube therefore is a ton more helpful to me.


Edited by Ballyhoo, 15 April 2019 - 10:49 PM.


#12 mohitk

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 11:35 PM

I have learned a lot more by watching videos. Yeah I have been castigated for not reading the Primer enough but when it comes to PI, for example, or it could apply to any imaging software, watching someone actually do it on youtube is just not something you can not get as well in the Primer. YouTube therefore is a ton more helpful to me.

I learnt a lot online - reading and watching videos as well. But I did not find anything that is comprehensive enough to capture the info I needed as a complete beginner in "astrophotography" at a level that I could understand - and I am not talking about videos of specific tasks (like stacking and processing in PI). Maybe this exists, but I did not even know what videos to search for at that point. The books I listed gave me enough information on a lot of aspects of astrophotography, so I was more informed when I needed to dig deeper into specific topics online - whether they be software manuals or online how-to videos. So I think there is a place for both. YMMV.



#13 mike8888

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 03:41 PM

My go to hard copy is The Deep Sky Imaging Primer, second edition by Charles Bracken. 



#14 Ballyhoo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 04:39 PM

I learnt a lot online - reading and watching videos as well. But I did not find anything that is comprehensive enough to capture the info I needed as a complete beginner in "astrophotography" at a level that I could understand - and I am not talking about videos of specific tasks (like stacking and processing in PI). Maybe this exists, but I did not even know what videos to search for at that point. The books I listed gave me enough information on a lot of aspects of astrophotography, so I was more informed when I needed to dig deeper into specific topics online - whether they be software manuals or online how-to videos. So I think there is a place for both. YMMV.

Learning a body of knowledge is a personal phenomenon that has as much to do with how the learner resonates with the presentation formats. That is why there is no one size fits all way to learn.  I learned more by splitting my computer screen and watching LightsToProcess youtube videos while doing post processing than anything else. But all the other stuff I learned was probably a combination of experience and asking a lot of questions. The Primer boos is very good, but leaves a lot of unanswered questions for me.



#15 OldManSky

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:23 PM

The internet's the ultimate book really why spend money on buying one?

One of my programmers asked me the other day if the company would pay for a programming book he found. It was about a library we use in our product, so totally work related.

I took a quick look, and pointed out to him that it was two release versions behind, and a lot had changed in those two versions. Then I gave him web links to four up-to-date online tutorials...that were free. So I said no to the book.

It wasn’t the money. It’s that things change fast in hardware and software, and by the time somebody writes, edits, and publishes a book it’s already out of date, even if it still has some good, timeless “basics” information.

 

So...yeah. I’m with you :)


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#16 Astrola72

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:52 PM

Hmmm... I think it's quite possible to enjoy this hobby while staying far enough away from the bleeding edge to still benefit from a few good reference works.

 

Just my penny.gif penny.gif

 

Joe


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#17 gotak

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:35 PM

Hmmm... I think it's quite possible to enjoy this hobby while staying far enough away from the bleeding edge to still benefit from a few good reference works.

 

Just my penny.gif penny.gif

 

Joe

Sure but if someone's starting out why not learn the current state of the art instead of what was a while back?

 

Also does any of the books cover everything? Some stuff like full-field or multi-star guiding for example aren't exactly new ideas but rarely touched upon, yet are becoming more mainstream due to new things like the ONAG.

 

Anyhow I do think there are sufficient information online in various formats, and that the key is to build experience which you don't do sitting in a couch with a book. It's not that my way is the right way but maybe what I prefer works for some folks better. And maybe for some the book is better.


Edited by gotak, 16 April 2019 - 10:35 PM.

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#18 Astrola72

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 11:21 PM

"gotak" -

 

You are certainly right that this hobby really has to be learned through experience. That's the fun of it. But I'm an old man and I just love books, and I took issue with "why spend money on buying one".

 

Joe



#19 Stelios

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 11:48 PM

Also does any of the books cover everything? Some stuff like full-field or multi-star guiding for example aren't exactly new ideas but rarely touched upon, yet are becoming more mainstream due to new things like the ONAG.

That's a great example of what *not* to pick up when learning. It's like starting bowling by watching some of the extreme cranker professionals. Possibly useful for the pros, but a road to confusion and frustration when just starting out.

 

The information in Deep Sky Imaging Primer about things like required equipment, image scale, the effects of stacking, etc. are not in the slightest outdated and a lot never will be. The processing part (Photoshop and Pixinsight) is where you want to be *today*. There is other software, but *today* that is widely considered best, and if APP or something else is there tomorrow, then it will likely be in the next release.

 

What you don't want is to have someone starting the hobby be on the bleeding edge of experimentation.

 

As for the value of books (whether in paper or electronic form) vs. videos, I find written material far superior, but admittedly this may be biased by my experience. Still, I've tried videos (and some are very helpful) but many of them either go too fast when I want them to go slow or take forever over things I already know. I know all about FF and Rewind, but in practice it's more of a pain than it's worth. 

 

For me the ideal Internet thing are tutorials such as the Kayron Mercieca ones for Pixinsight. As I said before, it's not that good info doesn't exist in the Internet. It's that it exists alongside with a lot of nonsense, and without experience (which budding astrophotographers lack) it's pretty hard to separate. 



#20 mohitk

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 12:28 AM

As a newbie, I am always looking for ways to learn more about this field of astrophotography, as probably is the OP - and this forum is amazing, and I am very thankful for the information that I have gotten from you all. 

 

But one small issue I do have with this forum sometimes is that some advice is given based on what works for the advice giver rather than what might work for the advice seeker.

 

The OP asked specifically for "recommended book on AP" and restated the need for a Scotch and book after a recommendation on going online. Here is what happened:

 

1) There were a lot of great book recommendations made. Links to direct knowledge that OP wanted, which was awesome.

 

2) There were recommendations made to just go online instead, with various reasons:

  • because that is the best way one learns (depends on the person)
  • you get the latest information online (if you know what the latest is as a newbie)
  • why spend more money ? (still paying for internet access, so not completely free)
  • not enough coverage of topics

For #2 above, I would love to see links that would replace a book recommended in #1, that would be more updated and cover every topic. I am not being facetious - this is why I bought those books - if there are online resources that can cover at a high level everything that the books cover, all collected in one place like the books, that would be great info for us newbies. So instead of just "go online", I would like to see more links to sites I could go to, to get that same info. Thank you!


Edited by mohitk, 17 April 2019 - 12:31 AM.


#21 OldManSky

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 08:21 AM

For #2 above, I would love to see links that would replace a book recommended in #1, that would be more updated and cover every topic. I am not being facetious - this is why I bought those books - if there are online resources that can cover at a high level everything that the books cover, all collected in one place like the books, that would be great info for us newbies. So instead of just "go online", I would like to see more links to sites I could go to, to get that same info. Thank you!

Fair enough.

For the rank beginner, go to Trevor's YouTube channel and website, AstroBackyard:

https://astrobackyard.com

https://www.youtube....xgoi_xLdCg9J-LQ (YouTube channel)

 

Trevor documents his own journey from complete beginner to accomplished imager, explaining theory, hardware, and software along the way.

 

For both beginner and more advanced, Jerry Lodriguss' site has lots of free articles (from beginning to advanced), and purchasable e-books (which can be updated more frequently than any print book):

http://www.astropix.com/

 

Those are two rather exhaustive resources to start with.  There is enough good content in the two of them to take months to go through it all -- and you can put into practice the things you learn along the way.

 

As for books and a scotch vs. online...I'm an older person, too (nearly 60).  I *love* books.  I've got a library full of 'em.  But I just don't see the difference between sitting down in your easy chair with a scotch and reading a book, and sitting down in your easy chair with a scotch and an iPad and reading online.  Perhaps that's a personal failing on my part, but it's how I am...smile.gif

 

At any rate, my comment above didn't mean "online is the only possible way to go."  It's a good option based on my own experience.  I found most of the print books lacking, and found the online resources plentiful, up to date, and easy to access.  I can only go by my own experience -- I don't know what works for somebody else.


Edited by OldManSky, 17 April 2019 - 08:22 AM.

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#22 mohitk

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:41 AM

Fair enough.

For the rank beginner, go to Trevor's YouTube channel and website, AstroBackyard:

https://astrobackyard.com

https://www.youtube....xgoi_xLdCg9J-LQ (YouTube channel)

 

Trevor documents his own journey from complete beginner to accomplished imager, explaining theory, hardware, and software along the way.

 

For both beginner and more advanced, Jerry Lodriguss' site has lots of free articles (from beginning to advanced), and purchasable e-books (which can be updated more frequently than any print book):

http://www.astropix.com/

 

 

Paul - thank you so much for those links! I have read some articles on both those sites, and have learnt from Trevor's videos, and yes, they are indeed very useful. And I am sure the OP will find them useful as well. I definitely need to explore them more.


Edited by mohitk, 17 April 2019 - 09:56 AM.

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#23 Alen K

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 02:24 PM

Being almost a senior citizen, I have to admit to a bias towards dead-tree manuscripts that you can hold in your hand. But I may have an unfair advantage compared to some of the young'uns today since I have had decades of experience reading things far longer than can fit on the screen of a smartphone, not to mention the attention span to do it.

However, the charge that paper tomes go out of date is a fair one. My introduction to AP was through a small book called "From Film to Infinity" by Jack Newton. When I got serious I bought "A Manual of Advanced Celestial Photography" by Brad Wallace and Robert Provin, then added "Astrophotography for the Amateur" by Michael Covington (the first and then second editions) and "Widefield Astrophotography" by Robert Reeves. But I don't have any of those books today, for one reason: film is dead. (Okay, technically it's on a respirator being kept alive artificially by hipsters.) There were a few things in those books that still apply today but not nearly enough to be worth taking up space on the bookshelf.

I replaced those books with a couple of DSLR-specific titles (since that is the direction I took after 35mm film), first "Introduction to Digital Astrophotography" by Robert Reeves and then "Digital SLR Astrophotography" (first edition) by Covington. (I didn't really need to get both but I do like books!) Written in the early days of DSLRs, those books are themselves now at least partly obsolete. I have yet to replace Covington's book with his second edition released just last year, which he says is almost completely rewritten (see the first chapter here). Bracken's book is likely worth picking up too based only on the high number of recommendations it gets and its comprehensive nature. My recommendation for anyone starting out (assuming DSLR, as most beginners use) would be Covington's book followed by Bracken's when they have graduated from wearing short pants. (A very old reference.)

Edited by Alen K, 17 April 2019 - 03:58 PM.


#24 bobzeq25

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 07:47 PM

I am new to astrophotography and would like recommendations that suitable books.

 

What I'd like is a comprehensive book that could cater for the beginner through the experienced.

 

Any ideas?

 

Thanks,

Charlie

There are three that are the best of the best, at different levels.  Buying all three would not be a bad choice.

 

For the absolute beginner.

 

http://www.astropix....bgda/index.html

 

OK for a beginner, but really intermediate.  There's good reason it's been the most mentioned here.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470906

 

This really is better _after_  you have some experience, then you'll get a lot more out of it.  But I know of nothing better.

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/1138055360

 

 

 

The internet's the ultimate book really why spend money on buying one?

I could not possibly disagree more.  The stuff on the Internet is all over the map for quality, there's some really bad information out there.  There's more to learn than you can get from any websites (much less from short posts here).

 

The three above are reliable, and well organized, another area where websites are weak.  All 3 books would be about $100.  Chump change as far as AP of DSOs is concerned.  The best $100 anyone will ever spend on this.

 

Websites and short posts here are good for specific questions.  Anyone's essential knowledge base will be better built on books.


Edited by bobzeq25, 17 April 2019 - 07:53 PM.


#25 cbutterworth

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 09:32 AM

I purchased the book by Bracken and managed time to sit down and read the first chapter.

 

a couple of sections were slightly technical IMO, but it gave a clear description of the basics of CCD’s, binning, and gain. The concept of using the gamma distribution to adjust a native ccd image to something closer to our eyes’ natural perception of brightness was also very interesting and explained why I spend time adjusting this setting when working with my landscape photos in Adobe Lightroom.

 

Now I am really itching to go try my new astrophotography gear, but we’ve had many cloudy nights here in Denver and the light pollution is abominable. Plus, I am waiting for a flattener for my WO scope.

 

Thanks.

Charlie




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