An Astro-photographic primer—the Why and How
The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Humanity has always gazed to the stars enamored by the beauty above. Our minds are reaching for an explanation at the sight of what we cannot touch or feel. We are mesmerized by the beauty before us and bewildered by the source. The nightly twinkling abyss above us beckons us to come. We lay upon green grass on a warm summer’s night, looking into the constellations as if they were home. Human thought dreamed of traveling into the heavens. Captivated by the winged birds, we invented ways to touch the sky, fly, and reach into the stardust of life. It is a holy anxiousness, a groaning within us; we are aliens on this earth. We dream and reach outward into the expanse we seek. The twinkling light in the sky is from stars that may no longer exist, small photons traveling for millennia to reach our sight. We cannot travel to the source, travel at warp, speed is beyond our current capabilities. Why is a man so intent on leaving the safety of mother earth in hopes of finding a new one? Have we mucked this one up to the point we seek greener pastures elsewhere? Maybe it is the character of humans, something coded into our DNA to seek out what we cannot see or understand—it is the gypsy within. We share a holy groaning, for this is not our home.
Space, the final frontier
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise
Its five-year mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before
Our latest effort to explore strange new worlds is called Webb; it was launched on an Arianespace, Ariane 5 Launch Vehicle on December 25, 2021. Webb’s mission is to look deep into the Universe’s origins, into the big bang. With this new telescope, we stretch our ability to see into the origin of life.
I love to view these images that the Hubble telescope captures—I view them in reverence of God’s Kingdom. I look forward to the photos that the James Webb telescope will capture. Both are just cameras, multi-billion-dollar telescopic cameras. Sure, they are seeking knowledge of creation within the images they capture. Both Hubble and Webb can assess gases and estimate densities and other data produced by the various light spectrums. But they are just a machine made by man; they will never have the ability to see and comprehend creation and the God who created it. They can, however, awaken humans to home and God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
As I stand behind my camera mesmerized by the beauty before me, waiting for the light to present the reason why I am there, at that particular moment, it becomes clear that God paints it; God creates it just for me to enjoy. These moments are why I love photography; each day, God graces me with amazement, a clear message He is always near. Man’s journey into the stars presents the same result, a realization that nothing this awe-inspiring happened arbitrarily out of luck—it was intentional, it was purposeful.
The Featured image for this blog is Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.” I have often wondered why God is straining to touch man, but man is comfortably reclined, resting his arm on his knee with a limp hand. Michelangelo painted it to depict God’s ravenous loving desire for His children, just as any good father does.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Please note I do not specialize in astrophotography; this discussion is from a layman’s view. I appreciate those who have mastered this art, who spend their nights gazing into the heavens.
Astrophotography is a photographic specialty. The gear required for the star-master photographer is technology-packed: star trackers, expensive lenses, and software. Astrophotography is both science and art. Yet capturing the stars is photography; the exposure formula remains the same; shutter speed, aperture, and sensitivity. Photographing the heavens is a nighttime experience, an ambient low light challenge with bright pinpoints of light in constant motion. The earth spins at 1,000 miles per hour; The earth orbits the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. The Sun and Milky Way grow at 450,000 miles per hour; the expansion of the Universe is a cosmic conundrum.
R. Buckminster Fuller states the earth is a spaceship traveling through space; we are a starship. The space we occupy in the universe changes, our view is constantly changing, but we cannot experience it. Each night for the time of year and please we view it from, the heavens look the same—but it is an illusion.
“I’ve often heard people say: ‘I wonder what it would feel like to be onboard a spaceship,’ and the answer is straightforward. How does it feel? That’s all we have ever experienced. We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.” -R. Buckminster Fuller
I can’t afford star trackers, other camera motion devices, or expensive lenses; why should I? I can view the Images from Webb and Hubble online. As with all photography, it is about the experience of quietly mesmerized meditation with God, armed with a camera to record the experience to share with everyone. My astro-photos won’t earn high accolades, but the attempt is a heavenly experience.
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. It is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller
“Dare to be naive.”
― Buckminster Fuller
Just Look up I am everywhere!