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Book Reviews

Making Every Photon Count
Author: Steve Richards

Publisher: Chanctonbury Observatory

Available from: www.skyatnightimages.co.uk

Price: £19.95 (Pb), 194pp

Steve Richards’ images and online presence are well-known and, in taking the brave step to self publish this book, he has put into words and pictures just how he creates his superb images.

The book has a forward by none other than Sir Patrick Moore praising the approach Steve has taken, which unlike many other imaging guides and tutorial products, really does set out to lead the absolute beginner through all the steps of the imaging process.

The book begins with a chapter on equipment that acts as a guide to telescopes and mounts, as well as CCD technology, and whilst relatively brief, it does give some good practical advice on selection and set-up of equipment. This chapter alone could almost warrant an entire book, but as equipment changes so rapidly, it would be out of date very quickly! From thereon the rest of the book is split into chapters describing the six ‘F’s of astro imaging – Find, Focus, Frame, Follow, Film and Finish – and Steve leads the budding imager by the hand through each.

These six ‘F’s provide the meat of the book, although ‘Find’ being only one page in length seems a little odd, and only really covers the use of the GOTO approach (with one paragraph on star hopping). To be honest, this chapter could have been rolled into some of the set-up chapter, rather than being a section in its own right. The ‘Focus’ section is also short and seems to disregard the Hartmann mask, which is a staple for many astrophotographers. The points made against it are valid in some respects, but to devote most of the chapter to the newly developed Bahtinov mask, and not cover something as simple as diffraction spike focusing, seems a little amiss. Likewise, the chapters on following, filming and finishing the object of choice, are all short, but when you have finished reading them all, you realise that the author has managed to lead you through a really good walkthrough of most of what you actually ‘need’ to know, even if it isn’t totally comprehensive.

The book concludes with even more useful data, with topics like drift alignment, collimation and correcting for optical errors being three highlights. Steve covers his own set-up in some detail, giving practical advice with regard to computer integration, followed by some great examples of his own images, along with useful data and web links to round off the book nicely.

For a self-published book, the print quality is good, although the text on the pages is somewhat offset from central, but this does not detract from it being a well thought-out guide for imagers to work from. If you are still not sure about taking the step into astro-imaging, I can more than heartily recommend this book as a great overview of what it entails and how great images can be achieved.

Nick Howes

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