Friday, July 3, 2009

My Favourites - Top 10 Astrophotographers

The world of Astrophotography is an amazing blend of passion, knowledge, skills, techniques, and at times, expensive toys. An incredible artistic medium that requires many hours of dedication and refinement of skills.

The human eye, and the atmosphere of our earth dictate the visible elements of the vast expanse above us. The amateur astronomer plays with these elements using filters, long duration exposures, advanced processing techniques and a never ending hunt for the darkest skies; in order to create their masterpieces.

The hubble has taught us much about our universe, but also alot about image processing techniques - since it was launched with a camera that initially created out of focus images.

To most people Maximum Entropy De-convolution sounds like pasta night at the halls of residence at your local university's physics department. Who would have thought it was a simple image processing technique in a popular downloadable software package. All this is second nature to the Astrophotographer.

Today I thought it would be good to take a look at 10 of the best amateur astrophotographers.

Disclaimer: this is a somewhat subjective review and I am happy to take comments on anyone I have missed. I don't pretend to have found them all, and I am sure I have probably missed some noteable people who should be on the list. Perhaps leave a comment and we can refine it over time - Anyway these are my current top 10 favourites.

Criteria: I have tried to select my top 10 based on the quality of the photos and techniques as well as the quality and experience of the websites that serve them up.

#1: Ken Crawford

Masterful technique - best website

#2 Wolfgang Promper

Finest Globula ever photographed

#3: Tom Davis

Master of the dark Nebulas

#4: Brad Moore

Image used by NASA as an example of the best of earth based photography

#5: Antonio Fernandez

Brilliant narrow band imaging

#6: John Gleason

Master of HA - Most artistic website

#7: Russell Croman

Exquistely composed Mosaics

#8: Rainer Sparenberg

Best Solar Photography & Terrestrial astro, great website.

#9: Mike Salway

Master of planetary photography/Landscape-astro & service to the amateur community

#10: Mike Sidonio (The world's strongest Astronomer)

This touching tribute won a David Malin Award - fine treatment of rarely photographed Nebula and Galaxies

So there it is, some of the masters, and their unique craft. I'll sign off now and await the "why didn't you pick me" emails - which I am more than happy to receive. Then perhaps we'll review the list over time.

Appologies once again if I have missed someone who should be on there.

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