Me and my equipment

 

Dark Art Observatory is a privately owned observatory. Currently located in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. The skies here are relatively dark compared to surrounding areas, allowing the awe inspiring beauty of the night sky to be captured. I hope you find my work as amazing and humbling as I do.

All images contained on this site are copyright of Matt Herbik and Dark Art Observatory.  No unauthorized use permitted.

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I began astrophotography after a life of wanting to do it. Suddenly my 3 year old son showed an interest at a local star party. This gave me all the excuses I needed to get going. I did some research online and the “local” astronomy store. After which I bought a modest beginner off the shelf set up. A Celestron AVX mount a 6 inch Newtonian also made by Celestron the XLT 150 and a Canon DSLR. At this point I wasn’t guiding I was using Backyard EOS for capture. I was breaking down and setting up every night. I had difficulty finding polar alignment, focus and a number of other issues. All the problems of someone just getting started. I managed my fist image. M 42 shown below.This image is if I recall about 20 minutes of 30 second subs unguided with elongated stars, poor collimation and a host of other problems. However, I was so very excited at what I had it pushed me through the following months of a series of poor images with many issues. Not long about 3 months later I took a leap probably my greatest jump in imaging I started to guide using an Orion mini guide package and I moved to a mono CCD with filter wheel. An ATIK 414 ex. using Astronomik filters. Using PHD2 to guide allowed me to find accurate polar alignment much quicker and the CCD was much more sensitive. A couple examples shown below.The last image of Rosette nebula is a 4 panel mosaic since the Atik I chose had such a small size. After sharpening my skills a bit(for about 2 years)  I chose to upgrade everything. I now work with a 8 inch RC telescope made by GSO, no longer off the shelf I upgraded the focuser to a Moonlight with high res stepper motor. I purchased a QSI 683 with Astrodon filters and Lodestar 2 for guiding, I upgraded my mount to handle my new scope and new camera. I now work off a Software Bisque MyT mount. I also purchased a Skyshed Pod so I no longer had to setup and breakdown every night. I am ready to image within a about 5 minutes (according to my wife its more like 30) from walking outside.

I am sure I left out a lot of my struggles especially in the beginning. So long as I enjoy myself and don’t go broke doing so I will continue and hopefully continue to improve along the way.