My First Astrophoto

What a beauty! My first astrophoto of the famous M13 colliding cluster and the nearby Zorro open star cluster! Well, it really is M13! Can you recognize it? Probably not.

This was taken during 1980 from my backyard in Matawan, NJ, the Light Pollution Capital of the Universe. I had built a 10" f/6 newtonian from parts (bought the mirror from Parks) and I'd made a fork mount from 2" steel pipe. I had read that vibrations were troublesome for fork mounts so I filled the pipes with concrete. Just the fork weighed about 70 lb. It had no drive so I rigged a tangent arm on the fork and mounted a bolt that pushed on the tangent arm, they were kept in contact by rubber bands. There was a knob with a crank on the bolt.

I focused the telescope using a piece of ground glass laid directly on the eyepiece drawtube and then covered the open tube. My camera consisted of a piece of Tri-X film taped onto a flat plate of aluminum. I removed the "camera" from its light tight black plastic bag and taped it onto the open drawtube. Then, I removed the tube cover, moved to the hand crank and started cranking. I think this was a 10 minute exposure. At the end of the exposure, I stood up and covered the tube. I developed the film at home in D-19, just floated the film chip in the developing tank. You can see what magnificant results this method got!

It's amazing that this worked at all. I had read nothing about astrophotography and really had no clue what to do. Shortly after this, I bought some books and started down the astrophotography path. I'm getting slightly better results now, but I still have a ways to go. It's a journey without end.......and that's the best kind!

Clear Skies!


Thanks to Warren Keller for scanning this tired old relic found on the bottom of the box......