Catchers of the Light Books

 

"This book is truly a magnum opus, a labour of love, and a great work of scholarship. It is authoritative, detailed, thorough, superbly illustrated, well referenced, and all-encompassing. There is no nook or cranny of the history of astronomical photography or its proponents that has not been investigated, noted, and embellished with a relevant image. It is worth every single cent of its price. It is an essential addition to every astronomy library. Anyone with even a vague interest in the development of astrophysics will need to have this book to hand; it is a vital and reliable starting place for any historical research into the last two centuries of astronomical endeavour." Professor David W. Hughes, 'Observatory' magazine, February 2015. Read Full Review Here:

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Ages of Astrophotography
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Ages of Astrophotography
Ages of Astrophotography

As a young boy growing up in awe of the stars, I suffered a great disappointment and frustration - for I could never truly see the universe as it was in the photographs of my books. Through the eyepieces of my telescopes, which got bigger with each passing year I could only glimpse the myriad of stars of the two great globular clusters in Hercules; or pick out the faint ‘fuzziesthat were star systems beyond our own Milky Way; or sense the magnificent glowing gas of the Great Nebula’ in Orion - and when I looked for the dark head of the ‘Grim Reaper’s Horse’ rising into the light- I saw nothing, but the need for an even bigger telescope! I knew I could never have a ‘Great Reflector’ atop a Mountain or even an ageing Large Refractor at the edge of a City, so I gave up and became a Theoretical Astronomer where my only instruments were main frame computers programmed with the language of Mathematics, but I never forgot the wonder of the stars.

Now half a century later, the modern amateur astronomer need not feel the disappointment or frustration as I did. Every night across the world in almost every country, in backyards, gardens, on hills or in deserts they image the heavens. With their modest equipment costing just a few thousand dollars they can see all that I could not; and with it capture the Night Sky with a quality far superior to the photographic plates taken by the ‘Great Telescopes’ in my books. The digital age of the CCD ‘Chip’ has arrived.

My previous book the ‘Catchers of the Light’ told the story of the History of Astrophotography through the ‘Forgotten Lives of the Men and Women Who First Photographed the Heavens’.

The present volume tells of the ‘Ages of Astrophotography’ through the images themselves. It features 100 of the most important, iconic and famous of astronomical objects, instruments, surveys, telescopes and cameras. For each ‘object’ two images are depicted side by side, one taken by an early Pioneer of Astrophotography and a second imaged by one of today’s finest Astronomical Photographers. Whenever possible the modern image is taken with the same ‘framing’ as that of the earlier photograph. Through these 100 objects the History of Astrophotography is told from the Age of the first Daguerreotypes up until the present Age of the CCD camera.

The following 'objects' are included in the Book:

  • Origins: Stone Circles, Space Telescopes, Camera Obscurae, Daguerreotype Plates, Collodion Plates and 'Dry' Gelatino-Bromide Plates;
  • Lunar: First & Last Quarter Moon, Full Moon, Mare Imbrium, Clavius & Southern Uplands and Mare Tranquillitatis;
  • Solar: Annular & Partial Solar Eclipses, Solar Photosphere, Total Solar Eclipses and Solar Prominences & Flares;
  • Solar System: Comets, Jupiter, Saturn, Meteors, Minor Planets, Aurora, Uranus, Neptune, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Pluto & Other Dwarfs and Earth;
  • Deep Space: Stars & Clusters: Fixed Stars, M45 (Pleiades) in Taurus, 'Double Cluster' in Perseus, M44 (Praesepe) in Cancer, M13 (Great HerculesGlobular) in Hercules, NGC 5139 (Omega Centauri Glubular) in Centaurus; Intergalactic Nebulae: M42 (Great Orion Nebula), NGC 1977 (Running Man Nebula) in Orion, M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) in Vulpecula, M57 (Ring Nebula) in Lyra, B33 (Horsehead Nebula) in Orion, NGC 3372 (Eta Carinae Nebula), IC 4604 (Rho Ophiuchi Nebula), M8 (Lagoon Nebula) in Sagittarius, M20 (Trifid Nebula) in Sagittarius, M16/IC 4703 (Eagle Nebula) in Serpens Caput, NGC 1499 (California Nebula) in Perseus, M1 (Crab Nebula) in Taurus), NGC 2237 (Rosette Nebula) in Monoceros, NGC 7000 (North American Nebula) in Cygnus, IC 5146 (Cocoon Nebula) in Cygnus, NGC 7293 (Helix Nebula) in Aquarius, NGC 2261 (Hubble's Variable Nebula) in Monoceros; Extragalactic Nebulae: M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy) in Canes Venatici, M31 (Great Andromeda Spiral), Large Mgellanic Cloud (LMC) in Dorado/Mensa, Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) in Tucana, M65, M66 & NGC 3628 (Leo Triplet), M63 (Sunflowrr Galaxy) in Canes Venatici, NGC 4631 (Whale Galaxy) in Canes Venatici, M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy) in Ursa Major, M81 (Bode's galaxy) in Ursa Major, M82 (Cigar Galaxy) in Ursa Major, M104 (Sombrero Hat Galaxy) in Virgo; and NGC 253 (Sculptor Galaxy);
  • Spectra: Spectroscopes & Spectrographs, Solar Spectrum, Emission Lines, Stellar Spectra, Stellar Classification, Lunar, Planetary & Cometary Spectra, Doppler Shifts and Galactic Spectra;
  • Photographic Sky Surveys: Star Fields, Photographic Astrometry, Carte du Ciel Project, Star Clouds & Milky Way, Palomar & Digital Sky Surveys;
  • Telescopes: 72-inch 'Leviathan of Parsonstown', 15-inch Harvard Refractor, Kew Photoheliograph, Equatorial Coude Refractors, 6-inch 'Crocker' Astrograph, 36-inch 'Common/Crossley' Reflector, 40-inch Yerkes Refractor, 60-inch & 100-inch Mount Wilson Reflectors, 200-inch Mount Palomar Reflector, Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph and Schmidtspiegel Astrograph;
  • Modern Amateur Astrophotography: Film Camera, Film Images, Digital Cameras and Digital Images.

The book is divided into nine parts covering every aspect of the subject from its Origins, the Moon, Sun, Solar System, Deep Space, Spectroscopy, Photographic Sky Surveys, Telescopes and the Digital Age. Each part begins with a historical overview and also 'showcases' a modern day imager, renowned for their photographs of the objects featured.

It is entirely fitting that ‘Ages of Astrophotography’ should have a ‘Past & Present’ theme and feature the images of both the early Pioneers of Astronomical Photography and their Modern Counterparts - for they have each seen the Spiral Nature of Galaxies, witnessed the magnificence of the Globulars, looked upon the beauty of the Gaseous Nebulae and even captured the ‘Grim Reaper’s’ Horse. It is for them this book has been written, so that anyone with even a passing interest in the Stars can learn of how they became the ‘Catchers of the Light’ - and in doing so wrote the History of Astrophotography.

The year 2015 represents a milestone in Astrophotography, for it marks 125+ years since the birth of Edwin Powell Hubble (1889-1953) and 25 years since the launch of the great space telescope which bears his name. In 1923 Hubble made the most important astronomical discovery using photography of all time, when he imaged a Cepheid Variable star in the ‘Great Andromeda Spiral’; and in doing solved the ‘problem of the nebulae’ and proved that Lord Rosse’s ‘Spirals’ were ‘island universes lying behind the confines of our own Milky Way star system. It was this photograph which laid a ‘yardstick’ on the size of the universe.

This book has been written as a tribute to Edwin Powell Hubble’s memory - and to honour him as probably the greatest of all the ‘Catchers of the Light’.

Stefan Hughes, Pafos, Cyprus, 2015.

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A fully illustrated History of Astrophotography told through 100 'past & Present' images of Astronomical Objects, Spectra, Photographic Sky Surveys, Telescopes, Cameras and Photographic Processes/Technologies.

Dr. Stefan Hughes began his career as a professional astronomer, gaining a 1st Class Honours degree in Astronomy from the University of Leicester in 1974 and his PhD four years later on the 'Resonance Orbits of Artificial Satellites due to Lunisolar Perturbations', which was published as a series of papers in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. After graduating he became a Research fellow in Astronomy, followed by a spell as a lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Queen Mary College, London. Then came a ten year long career as an IT Consultant. In 'mid life' he spent several years retraining as a Genealogist, Record Agent and Architectural Historian, which he practiced for a number of years before moving to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where for the past ten years he has been imaging the heavens, as well as researching and writing the 'Catchers of the Light' - A History of Astrophotography.

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