Deep Sky Director – introducing David Finnigan

My interest in astronomy (and space travel ! ) all began around 1957, when I was seven years old. I was an avid follower of Journey into Space on the radio, then the Russians launched Sputnik. Soon after I was allowed to watch a new TV programme “The Sky at Night”, which led me to reading Patrick Moore books borrowed from the library.

I bought the “Teach Yourself Astronomy” book around 1959, and my father, a keen DIYer, helped me build a 3” f10 refractor – ( I gave a specification to the local opticians who made the objective lens for 30/- !!)

David Finnigan
David Finnigan

I turned my attention to the moon, using an eyepiece liberated from an old pair of brass binoculars. This gave a magnification of about 40x; and I was hooked. Even now, when I view the lunar maria through my latest telescope I can feel the “ wow “ sensation I felt then as a boy. I even traced all of the detailed maps from Wlikins/Moore’s tome “The Moon” (local library again) and joined them together to make a single huge map of the moon. Note: I was still at junior school at this point!

Although my interest in observational astronomy has never waned, I never owned another telescope until I took early retirement. In 2002 I bought an 8” SCT which I used purely as a visual observer until I read about the Philips ToUcam, and the remarkable software called Registax. I bought a PC, connected to the internet, and my journey as an astrophotographer began!

Deep sky imaging started soon after with a DSI Pro camera, which allowed me to capture globular clusters and the brighter galaxies and nebulae.

A 305mm SCT ( pictured here ) has recently replaced the 8” SCT, and I use a DSI II Pro camera now, and occasionally a Nikon D90 DSLR, for deep sky work.

I live on the edge of a large conurbation, with the Clent Hills to the south, so my darkest skies are in that direction. I get light pollution to the north and east; images taken looking in those directions need more attention in post – capture processing in the computer to get rid of the sky – glow.

Planetary nebulae and galaxies are my favourite targets at the moment.