Book Review - Messier Astrophotography Reference
Posted: 11 August 2014
Messier Astrophotography Reference
by Allan Hall
Published May 2014
The author provided his book for this review. The purpose of the book as described in the Introduction:
The purpose of this book is to be a midrange reference to beginning astrophotographers showing them what the targets look like, where they are, to provide some helpful information on capturing specific targets and what a finished image of the target might look like.
I have also included information on how large the target appears in the field of view and the best time of year to capture it. Lastly, I have attempted to put together a schedule someone can use should they want to capture all 110 Messier objects so that they know what targets are in the sky in what order.
This handy book begins with a detailed explanation of the type of information that is included for each of the 110 Messier objects. Typically three pages are used for each object with a black and white photograph of the object taken by the author, the months of the year when it is best photographed, sample telescope/camera field-of-view diagrams, a short paragraph describing the history of the object and what it is (nebula, galaxy, globular cluster, or open cluster), its RA/Dec coordinates, guidance on how to image the object, and a large locator chart showing where the object is in its constellation.
No book on Messier objects would be complete without some biographical information on Charles Messier and why he created his list of objects. I am glad the author included it.
Using the exposure techniques the author discusses, many of his images are awesome, especially ones of star clusters. Fortunately, the printing quality used for this book is higher than that used for the other two books I've reviewed (Getting Started: Visual Astronomy and Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography). If you follow his advice you will get similar results. Of course, his exposure settings may have to be adjusted for your equipment, but you will have a good starting point to begin your astrophotography of Messier objects.
The only thing I would like to have seen in the book is a table listing all of the Messier objects with the common name (if any), type of object, constellation, RA/Dec, size, magnitude, and a page reference for that object. Perhaps that will be added to a future edition.
Reading this book has prompted me to image all 110 Messier objects. I have previously imaged many Messier objects (seen on the Star Clusters and Nebulae Photo albums). Now I have to do the remaining ones, as well as redoing some using the techniques in the book.
Most new astrophotographers begin with Messier objects (and of course, the moon and planets). By taking advantage of the author's experiences you can eliminate some of the trial-and-error and initial frustrations that usually occur when beginning deep sky object astrophotography. If you are just starting out in astrophotography you need this book (as well as Getting Started: Budget Astrophotography).
For more information about this and other books by the author see his web site.
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