Joanne Tucker's photos

18 November 2019

One of the things I especially like writing about is the development of skills in this hobby. More than any other pastime, the demands of astrophotography - precision, care, understanding and patience - create a pathway where beginners develop into skilled users of the equipment. In particular, and I've mentioned this for others before - you don't need to have high-end equipment if your skill level is high.

I met Joanne the other day when she came into the shop to upgrade an equatorial mount. She had a Sky-Watcher Star Discovery mount on which she could put either a 127 Maksutov or an Evoguide 50ED scope. This was what she was using for deep sky objects.

I was impressed when Joanne told me she was getting photos using a goto alt-az mount, but you remember Josh Carnovale proved it was possible this year. But then she showed me the photos and I was stunned. These are next level stuff. She sent me some, and I said I'd publish three. I've attached five because I just couldn't knock any others out. That Sombrero is brilliant.

For the technical, Joanne uses an ASI224MC astronomical camera and stacks images using Deep Sky Stacker. Because of the alt-az mount, exposures can't be long so she turns up the gain and compensates with lots of exposures for the stack. She uses a couple of different filters to counter star bloat and light pollution.

Joanne left with a saxon HEQ5. She is looking forward to this mount giving her better tracking so she can increase her exposure times for deeper images. She's also looking forward to having to ditch fewer bad images. Of course, there's going to be whole new learning curve with that astrophotographic bugbear - polar alignment.

Joanne's story is longer and more detailed than what I'm able to cover here. But judging by what she's been able to achieve so far, she'll quickly come to grips with the new mount and start producing even more amazing photos.

Congratulations Joanne!