Dr. Ruben Kier, a radiologist with a special interest in astrophotography, will wrap up the AAA’s 2009-10 lecture series on Friday, May 7, when he discusses “Best Targes for Amateur Astrophotography and What They Reveal About Our Universe”. The free public lecture begins at 6:15 p.m. in the Kaufmann Theater of the American Museum of Natural History.
Kier’s lecture will focus on the choice of celestial objects for astrophotography. In choosing his list of the 100 best astrophotography targets, he has sought to identify compositions that inspire the viewer. “Furthermore”, he says, “the object should be bright enough to image with a backyard amateur telescope, an average CCD camera and fewer than three hours of total exposures. The target needs to be large enough to show detail and high enough in the sky to be captured from northern latitudes. More than a third of the targets can be framed with a second object to create a more dynamic image”.
Unlike the famous Messier, Herschel and Caldwell visual catalogues, Kier’s list focuses specifically on the best objects for the amateur astrophotographer.
But photographing objects is only part of the enjoyment, Kier notes. “Study of the images enriches the experience of visual astronomy. For example, star clusters show patterns of color that help us understand stellar evolution. Relection and emission nebulae show complex interactions that blur the distinction between the objects. Within distant galaxies, the patterns of star-forming regions create insights far beyond Hubble’s traditional “tuning fork” diagram.
This year, Kier summarized a decade of experience with CCD imaging in a book, “The 100 Best Astrophotography Targets: A Monthly Guide for CCD Imaging with Amateur Telescopes”, which he’ll sign after the lecture. His goal has been to show how amateur astronomers, using moderately priced equipment, can obtain excellent images rivaling those obtained with the most costly telescopes.
His presentation will showcase beautiful astrophotographs, explain how they help us understand what we can see at the eyepiece and provide tips for imaging. Kier’s talk should appeal to both photographers and visual astronomers. More of his images are available on his website, http://www.stardoctor.org/ .
Kier’s photographs have been published in Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines, and he’s lectured on such topics as “Building a Backyard Astro-Shed”, “Astrophotography from Light-Polluted Suburbs” and “What Astrophotography Teaches Us About Astronomy”.