The Beauty of the Night Sky by Rogelio Bernal Andreo
- By: Luis Argerich
Rogelio Bernal Andreo is an award winner astrophotographer born in Spain and living in California. He constantly produces images that show the beauty of the night skies beyond what words can describe. In this short feature, I will just show some of his work and briefly comment what it takes to create photos like these.
To create beautiful astrophotos you need good equipment. A solid mount to be able to hold everything without flexure or vibrations and with the ability to track the stars accurately to prevent trails. Then of course you need a good telescope. You also need a guiding scope to help the mount track the stars. A notebook will help you point the telescope and focus. Power sources for all the equipment and of course a good camera. Most astrophotographers use specialized CCD cameras and filters to create images, some of them use DSLRs.
Once you have all your equipment unless you live in a very special place you will need to carry all your gear to a dark location. Light pollution is a big enemy of astrophotography. You need dark skies to achieve longer exposures and capture more photons. Every photon is critical to make an astrophoto. So you have to research locations with dark skies and travel there with all your gear on a day without the moon and with good weather. If this starts to sound difficult then wait, there’s more!
You have all your gear, you travel to a dark location and weather is fine, then you are ready for an astrophotography session. You have to setup all your gear, make sure the mount is well aligned, turn everything on, find a guide star, make sure the mount is tracking good. Find your target, focus carefully, make some test exposures. Finally you are ready for what is known as the “capture” process, in other words, taking the photos that will be used for the final image. For good astrophotos you may need to take hundreds of photos devoting a single night or even multiple nights to just a single deep sky object. Some of the photos by Rogelio are mosaics so the work is multiplied by 2,3 or more depending on the number of photos in the mosaic.
Once you have all the photos the processing begins. The idea of pointing the camera and pressing the shutter to take a photo doesn’t exist in astrophotography, you need processing and you need a lot of processing to create a great photo. The data is in your photos but you need to squeeze every possible photo to have detail and color in the nebulas. Think about faint dark interstellar dust and how difficult it is for the camera to pick up detail in such a dim and distant object, you need a lot of processing to be able to see that in a photo with an acceptable result.
Processing implies a lot of work and a lot of artistic decisions, the difficult thing is to achieve a photo that is both astronomically accurate and beautiful at the same time. Rogelio does that merging art and science with a masterful touch.
If you are familiar with the night sky take a look at this photo of the Orion constellation to realize the amount of work that Rogelio does with his photography. You will recognize the Orion belt in the Middle. Red Betelgeuse and Bright Rigel at the shoulder. The Orion Nebula is also visible and near the belt you will find the horsehead nebula. The big red arch is known as Barnard’s Loop. Take a look tonight and see the photo, you will be marveled by the amazing things that the sky hides from our sight and that can be captured in a photo.
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