2018 year Reviews

Digital SLR Astrophotography (2nd edition)

Michael A Covington

Cambridge University Press, 2018, 348pp, softback

£32.00/$39.95

ISBN 978-1-316-63993-1

It is self-evident that practical amateur astronomy is not everyone’s first choice for an evening occupation, but for many individuals it represents an entry point to a career in space. In parallel, the advent of digital photography has brought to the amateur what was previously confined to professional astronomers, but it can be a technical subject and a guide such as this is a ‘must have’.

In this second edition, the author provides an updated tutorial on digital SLRs, lenses and telescopes, along with image formats, processing techniques, software and workflow, while later sections cover advanced topics such as sensor performance, spectral response and filter modification. In fact, the author reveals he has “rewritten almost the entire book from scratch because so much has changed since the 2007 edition”.

A quote on the back cover reminded me of a review I wrote of the first edition, declaring that “The book is well written and contains a wealth of practical advice, from someone who’s obviously writing from experience…you will learn a lot from its pages”. I’m pleased to say that I stand by that analysis for this second edition.

It’s a pity that the publisher could not run to colour reproduction for at least some of the astronomical images as this would have provided encouragement for newcomers to the subject (although the book does cover aspects of colour photography). Apart from that, the purist would point out that when filters are used to bring out various astronomical features – in, say, galactic spiral arms – the concept of colour becomes moot. The trouble is that most of us are used to seeing manipulations of Hubble images in coffee-table books and forget that such colourful renditions could never be detected by the human eye.

Time and technology moves on… but I know that if a certain amateur astronomer of the 1970s had been presented with this book - and the technology it describes - he would have lapped it up!

Mark Williamson, Space Technology Consultant, Cumbria, UK

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