Shooting Stars 2020

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020


Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, 210 Avenue W Hwy 22 S, Calgary


Events Description

Alan Dyer, Amazing Sky Guy

Shooting Stars 2020

Getting Started in Night Sky Photography

In this 4-hour workshop Alan reviews:

• Choosing cameras, lenses, and accessories such as sky trackers

• Best practices in the field for getting great astro-images

• Then … the basic steps to processing those images in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom, and Photoshop.

Who is This For?

This workshop is for beginners who own good DSLR or mirrorless cameras and who wish to learn how to use them to shoot the night sky. However, while the workshop is aimed at beginners, established astrophotographers will also learn handy tips and techniques.

People getting into astrophotography and who have yet to purchase gear will also find Alan’s recommendations on the best equipment invaluable.

What’s the Workshop About?

Alan steps you through the essential techniques, from what gear to use, then how to use it to shoot simple “nightscapes” with a camera on a tripod (including the Northern Lights and the Milky Way). Alan then covers how to take long exposures of the Milky Way and constellations using low-cost sky trackers.

Alan will the demonstrate how to process night sky images using Adobe Photoshop. However, most of the steps shown will be applicable to other up-and-coming programs such as Affinity Photo, Luminar, and ON1 Photo Raw.

Following the 3-hour classroom session, we’ll adjourn outside for a 1-hour hands-on practical session where you’ll have a chance to shoot camera-on-tripod nightscapes in the moonlight, or place your camera at the focus of the Observatory’s Celestron 14-inch telescope to take close-ups of the Moon. If the sky co-operates we might stay until midnight!

In the event of cloudy weather, we’ll remain in the Observatory’s classroom for an extended tutorial on more advanced image processing techniques.

Coffee, hot chocolate, and other refreshments will be supplied.

What’s the Content?

We’ll go through choosing, using, processing, then actually doing!

Part 1 – Choosing Gear

• Steps to success – recommended steps to get great results • Choosing a camera • Use of special “modified” cameras • The all-important lens • What accessories do you need? • Using an intervalometer • What does a sky tracker do and how do you use one?

Part 2 – Best Practices

• How to set your camera • What’s the best exposure? • How to minimize noise • Typical settings for aurora, star trails, and the Milky Way • How to focus! • How to shoot a time-lapse movie of the night sky • How to polar align tracking mounts • What can go wrong!

Part 3 – Processing Images

• Developing Raw files • Layering in Photoshop • Masking in Photoshop • Stacking for noise reduction

Part 4 – Hands-On Practicum with Real Gear!

• Shooting wide-field nightscapes with a camera on a fixed tripod from our site overlooking the Rockies • Shooting the Moon through a telescope (we can accept Canon EF, Canon RF, Nikon F, and Sony E-mount cameras with our camera-to-telescope adapters).

Part 4 (Cloudy Night Alternative) – Advanced Processing

• Stitching night sky panoramas • Processing a star trail or time-lapse set • Stacking star trails • Assembling a time-lapse movie

Special Notes

What you should know before arriving:

• While we will cover fundamentals such as setting manual exposures and focus, workshop participants should be familiar with the operation of their DSLR or mirrorless cameras when used on Manual, and the meaning of terms such as ISO, f-ratio, and shutter speed.

What we will NOT be covering:

• We won’t be getting into techniques for shooting long guided exposures of deep-sky objects through telescopes. • Nor will we cover shooting the planets and deep-sky objects using specialized “planet cams” or CCD astro-cameras. The focus is on using off-the-shelf DSLR and mirrorless cameras. • We will not be processing images together (no need to bring a computer to work on images)

What you should bring:

• You should bring whatever you wish to make notes with. However, outlets for powering laptops will be limited. • All registrants will receive a take-home copy of the presentation’s slides in PDF format via a digital download. • Participants should bring their DSLR or mirrorless camera, wide-angle lens, and sturdy tripod for the practicum session and chance to use it on the real sky! • Also bring: warm clothing for the outside session, and a red LED flashlight (check Canadian Tire or any camping/outdoor supply shop)

About the Instructor

Alan Dyer is co-author, with Terence Dickinson, of the popular guidebook The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, and the ebook, How to Photograph and Process Nightscapes and Time-Lapses, available at his website He also wrote and presented video courses on nightscape and deep-sky photography available through Alberta-based All-Star Telescope (

Alan is a contributor to SkyNews and Sky & Telescope magazines. His images have appeared in many books and calendars, on websites such as, Astronomy Picture of the Day, and in publications such as National Geographic magazine. He is a member of the exclusive The World At Night group of astrophotographers (See Asteroid #78434 is named for him.


Tickets :$54.06 +charges

How to get tickets?
Buy Online



Date & Time:

Friday, September 25, 2020, 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM


Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, 210 Avenue W Hwy 22 S, Calgary, AB T0L 1W0
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