AstroPhotography Tonight held this exclusive interview with astro-imaging expert Ed Henry of Hay Creek Observatory. Ed has been involved in astrophotography for a number of years and specializes in deep space imaging with SBIG cameras. He has an outstanding portfolio of high resolution images taken from his personal observatory in Wisconsin.
Please tell us about yourself. How did you get your start in astrophotography?
As a small child I looked through a couple of plain lenses- held up to look at the moon. I have been hooked ever since. I made my first telescope at about 10 by mounting these lenses in a toilet paper tube. At about 14 I ground my first mirror and made a 6 inch Newtonion that was mounted on a pipe fitting mount in the back yard. In high school we ground a 10 inch [mirror]. I knew then that I wanted to take pictures as laying on the cold ground to try and look through eyepieces was not my thing. However, the current technology of using film and guiding by hand was not appealing to me. That was about 1967.
What equipment did you learn on (i.e., camera, telescope)?
It wasn't till about the year 2000 that I finally got back into things. I knew that the technology of the day was such that I could build an observatory and image with CCDs from the comfort of a control room, with computers, so I built my first observatory. I used a Meade LX200 12 inch and an SBIG ST7 camera to get started and learn the ropes.
Did you have any mentors or someone who inspired you during your early days in astrophotography?
I pretty much learned everything on my own from reading and online user group sites, but Rob Gendler has always been my "hero" LOL.
Please tell us about your observatory (dome type or roll-off, automated, heated, etc.).
I currently use a semi remote type setup with a 6 ft Home Dome, with a separate control room, heated and air conditioned, with two lazyboy loungers LOL . I can operate the whole setup from there including rotating the dome, which is done with a custom dome rotation setup I developed myself. See building and control room on Ed Henry's website.
What equipment are you using today?
Although I have used several setups, including an LX200 12 inch, an RCX 12 inch, a TMB 130mm refractor and some smaller scopes, I currently use a Meade 10 inch SCT F6.3, with a FR to make a fast F4.9 mounted on a Takahashi EM200 and using an SBIG SAT4000 one shot color camera
What is your favorite imaging subject (planets, moon, nebula, galaxies, etc.)?
I think I enjoy galaxies and nebula equally. My current setup is not good for the moon or planets.
Do you belong to any astronomy related organizations?
I am a member of the Chippewa Valley Astronomical Society in Fall Creek WI.
Do you have any published works such as books, tutorials, videos, etc?
Although I have published several images both in Astronomy and Sky and Telescope [magazines], I do not have any published written works, although I have an image of a comet that appears on the cover of a complicated text book and comets and the origin of life on planets LOL.
What, in your opinion, is the toughest subject to image?
Hands down, high resolution imaging of galaxies is one of the most challenging things to do.
What do you consider to be your best work in astrophotography?