Nature’s beauty, protection inspires ‘Made in NY’ artists

AUBURN — Many of artists featured in “Made in NY 2023,” which opens March 25 at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, have been inspired by nature.

For some, such as Maureen Church, of Rochester, the goal with her piece “Erie Canal at Dusk” is to capture the beauty around them.

“These paintings are part of a series based on my recent plein air landscape works,” Church said in her artist’s statement. “I use rich colors and wild brushwork to represent the beauty I see in nature.”

Other artists focus on a particular aspect of nature. Henry J. Drexler, of Norwich, still lives near the dairy farm where he grew up. His artwork “Bovine Madness XXXV” begins with images of cows that he manipulates to eliminate depth.

“Whether painted in black and white or fanciful hues, I strive for playful, abstract works of bovine madness,” he said.

People are also reading…

Artist Joyce Hertzson, of Pittsford, actually uses bits of nature in creating her artwork “After the (F)fall,” printing leaves and branches on rag paper.

“The finished print is always full of surprises,” she said in her artist’s statement. “Even using the same set of elements and process, I am never guaranteed the same outcome.”

Other artists use their creations to warn of humans’ abuse of nature. Saranac Lake artist Barry Lobdell’s photograph “Chevron Sky” was taken Nov. 6, when the temperature reached 70 degrees.

“Not a normal temperature for Saranac Lake in November,” he said.

While the weather made for a beautiful photo, he asked: “Is this beauty only skin deep, hiding within it the danger which is inherent in our unnaturally warming planet?”

Bill Hastings, of Ithaca, is a naturalist and gardener who is acutely aware of humans’ impact on nature.

“Every action has an impact,” he said. So with his piece “Sway,” he does his part to reduce, reuse and recycle by “utilizing a ubiquitous material that seems unavoidable in contemporary culture: plastics.”

Concern for the environment led Cyndy Barbone, of Greenwich, to alter her art-making material for her work “Our Rights Are Protected in New York State.” Conscious of the growing water crisis, she decided to stop dyeing her yarn.

“I have replaced color with white or natural by using varying thicknesses of linen to explore how transparency and density in weave structure can convey images, thereby eliminating the vast amount of water used in dyeing,” she said in her artist’s statement. “The illusion of light in the resulting work is a powerful metaphor for the human spirit.”

A total of 320 artists submitted 480 entries for this year’s “Made in NY” exhibition. Jurors Gary Sczerbaniewicz, Theda Sandiford and Kevin Larmon selected 81 pieces from 79 artists for the show, which will run Saturday, March 25, through Sunday, May 28, at the Schweinfurth. The free opening reception will be 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, and prize winners will be announced at 6 p.m.

Cayuga County-area artists in the show include Mnetha Warren, of Aurora (“Wonder Bread,” 2022), Denise Moody, of Skaneateles (“Her Trunk,” 2023) and Donalee Wesley, of Marcellus (“The Revelation,” 2023).

The exhibition is funded, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The exhibition will open along with two others at the Auburn gallery: “Triggered, Truth & Transformation” exhibition by New Jersey artist Theda Sandiford and “Positive, Negative, Shallow, and Deep,” by Oswego artist Tyrone Johnson-Neuland. (Editor’s note: Each exhibition will be featured in an upcoming edition of The Citizen’s entertainment guide, Go, and on

Maria Welych is marketing director for the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, a multi-arts center that opened in 1981 thanks to a bequest from Auburn-born architect Julius Schweinfurth. The center’s programs include more than a dozen exhibitions each year and educational programs for children and adults, which feature local, national and international artists. For more information, call (315) 255-1553 or visit

Best telescopes 2023: Stargaze galaxies, nebulas and more

We’ve rounded up the best telescopes for stargazing in this comprehensive guide. As well as picking the very best models, we’ve included telescopes to suit every level of astronomer and catered for every budget. 

At the bottom of the guide, we’ve described what type of telescopes are most suited to which activity (e.g., Lunar or deep space observations). This may help you decide what is best for you out of the models we’ve selected to be on this list.

If you’re an avid bargain hunter, check out our telescope deals page, which is regularly updated with the best telescope deals as we find them. Deals aside, though, if you’re seriously interested in getting the best stargazing experience, this is the guide for you as we’ve listed the best models from top manufacturers, available now at reputable retailers.

Best telescope deal March 2023

Aside from this comprehensive list, we do also have brand-specific telescope guides for Celestron, Skywatcher, Meade, and Orion deals for those loyal to their favorite brands. Like this guide, we also keep those updated year-round, so they’re always worth checking out.

We also have selected our favorite budget telescopes under $500, best beginner telescopes and best telescopes for kids incase you’re looking for those specifically.

Aside from telescopes, the best binoculars can be useful skywatching devices, too and the best cameras or best cameras for astrophotography will help you capture wonderful night sky images if night sky photography is an avenue you want to consider. 

While you’re here though, we’ve listed the best telescopes overall for beginner, enthusiast and professional observing respectively.

Best telescopes 2023

Why you can trust Space
Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Beginner telescopes

The Celestron Inspire 100AZ comes with a plethora of helpful accessories, but after our full review, we’d recommend updating the eyepieces (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Best for budding skywatchers who want to get up and running quickly


Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: Alt-azimuth

Aperture: 3.94″ (100 mm)

Focal length: 25.98″ (660 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 241x

Lowest useful magnification: 15x

Focal ratio: f/6.5

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 20 lbs. (9.07 kg)

Reasons to buy


Excellent range of accessories


Great intro to astrophotography


Easy to assemble

Reasons to avoid

Slight false color in optics

Limited to short exposure photography

An excellent telescope for the beginner or those on a tighter budget, the Celestron Inspire 100AZ is a great choice for those looking for a complete package that offers more in the way of accessories than most starter telescope bundles.

The Inspire 100AZ comes with a 90-degree erect image diagonal with a 1.25-inch fitting that makes the telescope suitable for terrestrial (daytime/on land) and celestial views, a pair of eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), a red LED flashlight for preserving vision, an accessory tray, StarPointer Pro finderscope and a smartphone adapter for basic astrophotography. Be mindful that given the refractor’s focal ratio, the Inspire 100AZ is limited to short-exposure photography.

During the observations we made in our Celestron Inspire 100AZ review, we noticed a small amount of false color (purple color fringing), and a slight blurring in the field of view was noticeable. The latter is easily resolved with a careful selection of eyepieces, so we recommend investing in additional eyepieces to make the most of the Inspire 100AZ’s optical system and to ensure that it translates into the quality of your photos, if you’re taking them False color, on the other hand, is to be expected in telescopes at this price point but it doesn’t ruin the experience unless you’re exceptionally particular about color accuracy. 

The overall build of this refractor is impressive. The StarPointer is a pleasant surprise since it’s able to pick out faint stars under moderate light pollution for an accurate star-hopping experience.

Not the most attractive telescope and could be considered as looking a little ‘toyish,’ but the optical quality is good (Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Best lightweight and portable go-to mount scope for beginner sky watchers


Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized Alt-Azimuth Single Fork Arm

Aperture: 4.01-inches (102 mm)

Focal length: 52.16- inches (1325mm)

Highest useful magnification: Up to 100x with digital zoom

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm and 10 mm

Weight: 6 lbs. (2.7kg)

Reasons to buy


Go-to is great for beginners


Highly portable

Reasons to avoid

Finish feels a little cheap

Other models better value for money

After undertaking our Celestron Astro Fi 102 telescope review we’d say this is perfect for beginners who don’t have prior knowledge of the night sky but want to start learning and enjoying it straight out of the box.

It’s not a budget scope by any means, but if you’re looking for a telescope that comes from a trusted brand that is highly portable, this one is worth your consideration. 

This is a good grab-and-go option when weighing in at just 6lbs (2.7kg). It doesn’t have a huge footprint as some telescopes do, so you can leave it set up at home without compromising your space too much, though it is easy enough to pack away and reassemble at will.

We think the final finish on the telescope looks and feels a little toyish, and compromises such as the materials used have been made to keep the scope as lightweight as possible. Despite the slightly lackluster final finish though, the image is attractive, and you can explore the detail on the Moon’s surface, Saturn and its rings, Mars and Jupiter. You may also see nebulae and other deep sky objects in the right sky conditions. 

It’s very quick and easy to sync with Celestron’s SkyPortal app, which contains approximately 100k celestial objects to explore.

In our full review of the Nexstar 4SE we found it can drain AA batteries very quickly. Plug it in to the mains or use a portable power station instead (Image credit: Jonathan Lansley-Gordon)

Best for finding planets and other celestial objects easily with Celestron’s SkyAlign technology.


Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized Alt-Azimuth Single Fork Arm

Aperture: 4 inches (102 mm)

Focal length: 52.16 inches (1325mm)

Highest useful magnification: Up to 100x with digital zoom

Supplied eyepieces: 1.25 inch

Weight: 21 lbs (9kg) fully assembled

Reasons to buy


Quick, uncomplicated setup


Celestron’s high-quality build


SkyAlign technology

Reasons to avoid

Restrictive portability

Narrow field of view

Power hungry

Boasting the build quality we’ve come to expect from the other models in Celestron’s NexStar range, the 4SE is optically comparable with the aforementioned Celestron Astro-Fi 102 but instead of relying on a smartphone, this model comes with a chunky and tactile hand controller. It is a good buy for beginner astronomers as it’s very simple to use and produces a clear and bright picture which is why we gave it four out of five stars during our Celestron NexStar 4SE telescope review.

The field of view is somewhat limited, which some users may find frustrating when manually slewing, but as Celestron’s SkyAlign software and GoTo system finds objects for you, this isn’t a deal breaker. The hand controller also allows nine different slewing speeds allowing for small corrections or a quicker scan of the night sky if you choose.

Given the power-hungry nature of the NexStar SE scopes, an external power supply is advised. The scope can otherwise quickly drain a whole pack of AA batteries. This does further limit portability further unless you are using it in combination with a portable power station (opens in new tab).

The Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ is not computerized, but some skywatchers prefer the hands-on approach (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

(opens in new tab)

Best for backyard moon and planet gazing without compromising on optical quality


Optical design: Reflector

Mount type: Alt-azimuth

Aperture: 4.49″ (114 mm)

Focal length: 39.37″ (1,000 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 269x

Lowest useful magnification: 16x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 10.41 lbs. (4.72 kg)

Reasons to buy


Simple to set up and align


Good intro to astrophotography


Suggests targets to observe

Reasons to avoid

Lacks computerized mount

Lacks precision

Currently on back order

Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114 can be enjoyed by beginner and intermediate skywatchers alike. It will be especially desirable to busy users who lack the time required for lengthy set-up procedures. During our Celestron StarSense Explorer LT114 review we timed assembling this telescope — it took less than 20 minutes!

Celestron’s StarSense technology is built into this reflector, which provides an extremely easy way to align the telescope. The skywatcher needs to download the StarSense app from Google or Apple (opens in new tab) and take a smartphone image through the eyepiece, the app then works out which stars are in the telescope’s field of view to calculate which way it is facing, clever.

The app not only provides an immersive experience but also offers interesting information on each of the targets you observe, giving you a better understanding of what you’re looking at.

You can enjoy the gas giant of Jupiter (opens in new tab) by using the 10 mm eyepiece. The views are clear, but you’ll need a selection of eyepieces (check out our best eyepiece buying guide) and filters in order to pick out the coloration of the atmospheric bands. The planet’s largest moons are visible as clear, sharp points of light. Views of the moon, Venus (opens in new tab) and the Beehive Cluster (Messier 44) are also pleasing and clear.

We found that the StarSense Explorer LT 114 is built sturdily and operates smoothly when slewing from one target to another. The scope needs to be manually operated, so you don’t get the ease of tracking that computerized telescopes would offer. However, some skywatchers prefer the hands-on versus electronic approach, and what’s more, the price is lower. 

Of course, you get the usual high-quality optics that we’ve come to expect with Celestron telescopes and the aperture is a good size too. All in all, this is an excellent choice for a budget-friendly backyard telescope.

Best telescopes for enthusiasts

Automatically track objects as they move across the sky (Image credit: Celestron)

(opens in new tab)

Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25

Best GoTo scope for seeing the universe in HD at this price point


Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized alt-azimuth fork arm

Aperture: 9.25″ (235 mm)

Focal length: 92.52″ (2,350 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 555x

Lowest useful magnification: 34x

Supplied eyepieces: 13 mm, 40 mm

Weight: 62.60 lbs. (28.39 kg)

Reasons to buy


Crisp views with no defects


Easy to set up


High-quality design

Reasons to avoid

Isn’t very portable


The optical system of the Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 (opens in new tab) ranks as one of the best we’ve ever had the pleasure of observing the night sky through. With no interference or optical defects in the field of view, this high-quality instrument offers sights of a wide selection of astronomical targets with impressive clarity and contrast. 

Although it is expensive (sitting around $2850), you get a lot of value for money with this telescope and its setup. The list of accessories you get include an attachable camera, a red dot finderscope, an international AC adapter, hand control for a seamless AutoAlign process and 13mm and 40mm eyepieces.

The stand-out piece of equipment with the NexStar Evolution 9.25 is undoubtedly its single-fork arm. Observers can slew from one target to the next and continue onwards at the touch of a button for up to 10 hours of continuous use, thanks to its rechargeable lithium-ion battery.  

Built into the mount is the telescope’s very own Wi-Fi network, allowing the instrument to connect and control via the Celestron SkyPortal app (downloadable for free on iOS (opens in new tab) and Android). Being motorized, the mount can track objects as they move across the sky, making the NexStar Evolution 9.25 a must-try for astrophotography.

If you have the budget and if you’re looking for a complete high-definition tour of the universe, then we fully recommend this GoTo to seasoned skywatchers. The only downside is that the NexStar Evolution 9.25 is tricky to transport due to its weight, meaning that skywatchers will need to consider this before planning any trips beyond the backyard — a small trade-off given the telescope’s robust and high-quality design.

The Celestron Astro Fi 130’s wide field of view will let you explore wide galaxies without having to move the scope too much (Image credit: Celestron)

A guide to the night sky, packed with technology at a low price


Optical design: Newtonian Reflector

Mount type: Computerized altitude-azimuth single fork

Aperture: 5.19-inches (130mm)

Focal length: 25.59-inches (650mm)

Highest useful magnification: 307x

Focal ratio: f/5.9

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm (26x) 10mm (65x)

Weight: 18lbs/8.6kg

Reasons to buy


Great entry-level telescope


Vixen dovetail for mount changes




Finds targets at touch of button

Reasons to avoid

Eyepieces limit observations

Focuser of low quality

Battery drains quickly

Useless without app

When we reviewed the Celestron Astro Fi 130 telescope we liked it a lot and think it’s excellent value for money. While it’s not necessarily a budget telescope, it is a lot more affordable than a few of the other telescopes in this guide, we think it’s excellent value for money.

If you’re new to stargazing, or even if you just don’t have a lot of experience, this telescope can give you an astronomy experience to marvel at using telescope technology and good optics, serving as a virtual guide to the night sky.

A 130mm aperture means that plenty of light is able to travel through the lens, making the night sky targets clearly visible and giving you amazing views of stars. A focal length of 650mm means you’ll get a wide field of view (you can see a lot at once).

This telescope is also sturdy but still lighter than some other scopes you might consider for the same experience, so it scores well on ease of transport. You also get a stable tripod, a red dot finder and eyepieces, which makes this even better value for money. 

We can only think of two things that let you down a bit with this model: the battery life drains a little quicker than you might want, and the eyepieces aren’t the best. We think you should consider upgrading the eyepieces for a better experience, but for value for money, we highly recommend this scope.

Best Computerized or GoTo telescopes

‘The World’s most beloved telescope.’ A worthy investment for serious skywatchers (Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Best motorized scope for deep space and astrophotography, giving excellent image clarity and detail


Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized alt-azimuth fork arm

Aperture: 8-inches (203 mm)

Focal length: 80-inches(2032 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 480x

Lowest useful magnification: 29x

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm

Weight: 32 lbs (14.48 kg)

Reasons to buy


Sharpness across the entire field of view


Good value for money

Reasons to avoid

On the heavy side

Hard to fault for the price

The first of three of the NexStar telescopes on this list, and for a good reason. The Celestron NexStar 8SE is an excellent option for beginners and seasoned skywatchers. This telescope makes it easy for novices to view the night sky without knowing much about astronomy. At the same time, more experienced stargazers can use it to explore deeper into space or even attach a camera for impressive astrophotography.

If you pay a good chunk of money for a telescope, you can expect to receive exceptional optics with extraordinary views of a wide range of celestial objects.

The NexStar 8SE by Celestron is renowned and has earned the title ‘The World’s most beloved telescope.’ It is the number one bestseller on B&H Photo (opens in new tab). Featuring StarBright XLT optical coating, this telescope provides unparalleled clarity and contrast for viewing planets and the moon. Jupiter, its moons, Saturn, and its rings are breathtakingly vivid with no chromatic aberration or color fringing. Its 203.2 mm aperture lens allows for excellent views of deep-sky objects.

In our Celestron NexStar 8SE review, we walked you through what it’s like to get everything set up, and it’s very straightforward. No prior knowledge of the night sky is needed, as you can use Celestron’s SkyPortal app or any other stargazing app to help you find two stars for the alignment process.

Once the telescope is aligned, you can use the solid-in-the-hand, hand-held controller to direct it to any item in its massive database. This includes planets, galaxies, double stars, star clusters, and nebulae. A fantastic option for beginners and indecisive people is the ‘sky tour,’ which automatically directs the telescope to different interesting cosmic objects.

The motor runs smoothly, and the results are precise. Automatic tracking is a dream for astrophotographers, enabling them to take long exposures, which can then be stacked post-shoot to create beautiful images.

The Celestron NexStar 8SE comes with a hefty price tag, but it is well worth the investment for those serious about skywatching or astrophotography. Although it may be too pricey for those who are only casually interested in the solar system, it is an excellent choice for those who plan to engage in these activities for the long term.

The supplied tripod could do with extra support but aside from that, this is a very user-friendly scope (Image credit: Sky-Watcher)

(opens in new tab)

Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ GoTo

Best GoTo for smaller budgets — the perfect mix of great tech and brilliant optics


Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain

Mount type: Motorized alt-azimuth

Aperture: 5″ (127 mm)

Focal length: 59.05″ (1500 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 150x

Lowest useful magnification: 60x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm & Barlow

Weight: 39.7 lbs. (18 kg)

Reasons to buy


Very user friendly 


Simple altitude-azimuth mount


Excellent clarity and contrast

Reasons to avoid

Tripod is a little shaky

Needs extra support in windy conditions

As an introduction to the world of GoTo skywatching, the Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ (opens in new tab) is a must-have for observers on a tighter budget. The SynScan AZ hand controller offers information on over 40,000 astronomical objects, which includes the most complete catalogs (Messier, NGC, IC and SAO) of deep-sky and solar system targets.

The astronomer has everything they need for a successful night under the stars: good quality star diagonal, 2x Barlow with a camera adaptor, 6×30 finderscope, a stainless steel tripod and an accessory tray.     

Assembling the instrument is easy and, given the weight of 39.7 lbs. (18 kg), the Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ is light enough to carry across the backyard without a great deal of effort. Skywatchers have the choice of powering the Servo Drive with 8 AA batteries or a 12V power supply — because batteries tend to drain quickly in when it’s cold, we recommend investing in the latter for uninterrupted observations with the SynScan technology.

Alignment is simple, using two stars to set the instrument up, but beginners may need practice in getting this just right — we recommend becoming acquainted with the Skymax 127 before dark, ensuring that you read the manual from cover to cover.

In terms of optical prowess, we don’t have any complaints. We can fit a waxing gibbous moon phase in the field of view and, after tweaking the focuser, the craters and lunar mare come into exquisite focus, with lovely contrast and clarity. A moon filter offered even better sights. Slewing over to the star-forming region, the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), is also picked out easily with the 5-inch (127 mm) aperture — it appears as a dusty patch of light with the Trapezium Cluster’s member stars dazzling with brilliant clarity at the nebula’s heart.

The stainless steel tripod can be a bit unstable, so we suggest supporting the setup while slewing in windy conditions.

Celestron NexStar 6SE — has great technology and brilliant optics to match (Image credit: Celestron)

A power hungry, but high quality telescope with excellent optics


Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized alt-azimuth single fork arm

Aperture: 5.91″ (150 mm)

Focal length: 59″ (1500 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 354x

Lowest useful magnification: 21x

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm

Weight: 30 lbs. (9.5 kg)

Reasons to buy


StarBright XLT multi-coated optics


High-quality build


Easy to set up and align

Reasons to avoid

Limited eyepieces

Drains batteries quickly — AC power cord required

Celestron’s range of NexStar telescopes has a well-deserved reputation for excellent optics, user-friendly assembly and a plethora of features. The telescope exemplifies all of these which we outlined in our Celestron NexStar 6SE review.

If you’re looking for a telescope with great light-gathering capabilities and a vast selection of astronomical objects to explore, this is an excellent choice. The 5.91-inch (150 mm) aperture provides superior performance compared to the Meade StarNavigator NG 114, while the NexStar+ hand controller contains an expansive database with over 40,000 objects. Unfortunately, extra eyepieces will need to be purchased in order to get the most out of the telescope, and even then, not all objects listed in the database can be viewed in great detail.

The NextStar 6SE offers a great way to explore the night sky using its ‘tour mode’. It will guide you through different targets across the sky, or in specific constellations, so you can observe like never before. This is perfect for those who don’t know what to look for or just want to get straight to observing interesting celestial objects that have been chosen for them.

The SkyAlign technology is simple to use and gets you pointed in the right direction fast. The motorized mount also has nine slewing speeds on top of its different tracking rates. All of this sounds brilliant, and it is, but there is a downside. The NexStar 6SE’s battery can drain very quickly, so we recommend powering the setup with an external power source.

Astrophotographers may initially be displeased with its slow f/10 focal ratio, limiting the NexStar 6SE to being a planetary or lunar imager at best. Still, there is the facility for more advanced users to switch out the secondary mirror for their camera, increasing the focal ratio to an astrophotography-friendly f/2.

The huge aperture lets in heaps of life so it’s a great choice for faint subjects (Image credit: Sky-Watcher)

(opens in new tab)

Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan Dobsonian

The best GoTo Dobsonian telescope for huge light gathering capability


Optical design: Parabolic Newtonian

Mount type: Dobsonian

Aperture: 12.01″ (305 mm)

Focal length: 59.01″ (1,500 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 600x

Lowest useful magnification: 43x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 72 lbs. (32.66 kg)

Reasons to buy


Good for faint targets


Collapsible for easier transport 


Built to last

Reasons to avoid

Heavy at over 32kg

Just about portable due to size and weight

The larger the aperture of your telescope, the more light it can drink in, allowing you to resolve the finer details in astronomical objects and see deeper into the universe. With a 12-inch (305 mm) objective lens, this collapsible Dobsonian from Sky-Watcher lives up to the nickname of ‘light bucket.’ 

The Dobsonian telescope offers a simple design. Its GoTo feature and motorized alt-azimuth mount, navigated with a SynScan hand controller, make it easier than ever to calibrate the telescope and get fantastic views of the night sky.

Over 40,000 targets are offered in the database and, we have to say that seeking out faint fuzzies was our first port of call with the Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan. The Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) is an incredible sight, with some dust lanes visible and the bulge glowing brightly. Its satellite galaxies are also visible as points of light in the field view.   

This Dobsonian telescope has a focal ratio of f/4.9, making it suitable for photography. Those with the ability to do so can capture stunning images with this device, taking advantage of the abundance of photons it can gather.

The Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan is heavy, but its collapsible design allows it to be easily stored in the trunk of a car for when you need to go to dark-sky parks or star parties.

Despite its costly nature, the Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan is a must-have for any hobbyist, given its generous aperture, excellent imaging capabilities, and GoTo capability.

Best Smart telescopes

The Vaonis Vespera is small and reasonably priced for a smart telescope (but still expensive) (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Best for tech fans — smart views of the night sky for beginners and veterans alike


Optical design: Apochromatic (APO) quadruplet refractor

Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth

Aperture: 2-inch/50 mm

Focal length: 8-inch/200 mm

Highest useful magnification: 33x equiv.

Supplied eyepieces: N/A

Weight: 11 lbs. / 5 kg

Reasons to buy


Fully automatic operation from app


Creates shareable images


Easy to use


Cuts through light pollution

Reasons to avoid

Very expensive

Cannot observe planets

Basic images of the moon

Images lack sharpness and resolution

At $2499 (opens in new tab)/£1982, the Vaonis Vespera is the smallest and most reasonably priced smart telescope to date. This telescope from French startup Vaonis is a smaller, lighter version of its robotic older sister, the Stellina. 

Named after the Latin word for ‘evening,’ Vespera does not have an eyepiece like traditional telescopes but instead captures and shares images of the night sky with up to five connected smartphones or tablets through a mobile app called Singularity (opens in new tab).

The Vespera is effectively a camera for taking stunning pictures of deep sky objects, even in light-polluted cities. It is not intended for observing the moon and planets, but it can be used to capture remarkable images of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Here is all the information you need to know about how the Vespera works.

The Vespera is an impressive device that combines three technologies: star pattern recognition software, image live stacking technology, and an app. When switched on, its Sony IMX462 image sensor can detect a target in five minutes and take one photograph every 10 seconds (this varies depending on the target). This noise-canceling process can be seen in real-time on the Singularity app, resulting in a clearer, more contrasty and colorful image. We in our Vaonis Vespera review we found that the images were a little soft, but they could be enhanced with post-processing.

Additionally, it uses a planetarium to generate a ‘tonight’s best’ list of celestial targets and an algorithm to determine the camera settings for viewing each target.

This scope features both an inbuilt camera and an electronic eyepiece — the best of both worlds (Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Best for bigger budgets — a sleek and smart astronomical imaging device


Optical design: Reflector

Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth

Aperture: 4.5-inches (114 mm)

Focal length: 17.7-inches (450 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 50x optical, 150x digital

Supplied eyepieces: Fixed Nikon eyepiece

Weight: 19.8 lbs (9kg) including tripod

Reasons to buy


Effortlessly simple setup


Stunning, sleek design is jaw-dropping


Nikon eyepiece for those who want it


App is well-designed and easy to control

Reasons to avoid

Extremely pricey, especially for new astronomers

May not appeal to purist telescope users

The eVscope 2, a telescope designed with great finesse, is ideal for photographers who are new to astronomy and have a considerable amount of money (about $5000 (opens in new tab)) to spare or for astronomers who desire an all-in-one system that is effortless to set up and use. Even though it may not be greatly appreciated by experienced telescope users accustomed to a more traditional viewing method, it can still create remarkable images.

The Unistellar eVscope 2 is a step away from traditional telescope stargazing and instead hosts an in-built camera, sleek design and electronic eyepiece. It is the second iteration of the eVscope line and has some noticeable improvements in both design and accessibility. It features a 4.5-inch (114mm) reflector with a focal ratio of f/3.9, which makes it ideal for viewing celestial objects such as nebulae.

Inside is a 7.7MP image sensor and new to the eVscope 2 is an electronic eyepiece designed by Nikon for those that want to get tactile with the telescope. The simple layout, stylish design, and excellent smartphone app user interface makes the eVscope 2 a doddle to use and photograph the night sky with, especially with its enhanced tracking feature, which we were very impressed with in our Unistellar eVscope 2 review. 

Due to the high cost of all the premium features, in reality, it is reserved for those with a substantial budget.

You could be forgiven for likening the aesthetic of this hybrid telescope to a games console (Image credit: Robin Scagell)

Best for producing RAW and JPEG images of dark sky targets


Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth

Aperture: 3.15″ (80 mm)

Focal length: 15.75″ (400mm)

Highest useful magnification: Up to 100x with digital zoom

Supplied eyepieces: N/A

Weight: 24.69 lbs. (11.2 kg)

Reasons to buy


Extremely portable


Great for astrophotography


Very easy to use

Reasons to avoid

Expensive compared to rivals

Not as appealing to traditionalists

Not widely available

The Vaonis Stellina telescope is unlike any other model on the market. It doesn’t even look like a telescope, a fact that may put off traditionalists. Boasting a smart design, it does away with the need for finderscopes and eyepieces. Instead, it relies on a Sony CMOS sensor and a smartphone app to provide stunning views and take amazing color images of the night sky. This telescope is more expensive than the competition, but it does include a free download of the Stellina app with 100 targets. 

While it isn’t ideal for studying planets, we discovered in our hands-on Vaonis Stellina review that it excels in producing images of bright deep-sky objects and the surface of the moon. It displays star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies in great clarity, with 6.4MP images at 3096 x 2080 resolution in JPEG and RAW format.

It is perfect for astrophotography or group viewing as up to 10 devices can be connected at once. It also comes with a light pollution filter which is helpful in areas that suffer from skyglow, and it can easily handle changes in weather. 

Though pricey, we think the Vaonis Stellina is worth the cost due to its sophisticated technology, sturdy and stylish build and reliability.

Best telescopes to observe planets

Due to the hefty 12.6kg weight, this telescope is best for back yard sky watching (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Best for exploring deep space from your back yard


Optical design: Newtonian reflector

Mount type: German equatorial (EQ2)

Aperture: 5.1-inch /130mm

Focal length: 35.4-inch /900 mm

Highest useful magnification: 250x

Supplied eyepieces: 0.39-inch/10 mm (30x) and 0.98-inch/25 mm (75x)

Weight: 27.8 lbs/12.6 kg

Reasons to buy


Affordable equatorial mount


Good optics


Slow motion controls for fine adjustments

Reasons to avoid

Relatively heavy

Manual targeting

Sitting at a price of less than $300, the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130 EQ2 is an excellent choice for those serious about taking the first steps into the world of astronomy.

Unlike other models at a similar price point, this telescope ships with an equatorial mount. When it is aligned with the Earth’s axis, it makes it simple (after some practice) to track objects in the sky once you’ve found them, as the Earth rotates.

It has a good-sized aperture at 5.1 inches, which means, unlike the models above, you will be able to explore deep sky objects, albeit only the brightest ones.

While not as long as the Celestron Inspire 100AZ, the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130 EQ2’s long tube length results in f/7 and makes high magnification possible. During our review of the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130 EQ2, using the supplied Barlow lens, we could easily get sharp views of the Jovian System (Jupiter, its rings and moons) and Saturn’s rings looked impressive.

This telescope is best suited for backyard stargazing, mainly due to its 12.6kg combined weight, which makes it a little more of an ordeal to take it out and about on sky-watching trips.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Orion Skyline 6-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope

Best for getting closer to the finer details of celestial objects


Optical design: Reflector

Mount type: Alt-azimuth

Aperture: 152mm

Focal length: 1200mm

Highest magnification: 133x

Eyepieces supplied: 9mm and 25mm

Weight: 37.5lbs

Reasons to buy


High-quality optics


Powerful and clear views


Sturdy build


Great choice for beginner and intermediate astronomers

Reasons to avoid

Cheaper alternatives available

Not best suited to advanced astronomers

The Orion Skyline 6″ (opens in new tab) telescope is a great choice for beginner and intermediate astronomers alike due to its easy-to-use nature and high-quality optics.

This telescope offers an impressive 152mm objective lens, allowing for plenty of light to pass through and making night sky targets more visible. The multi-coated optics further enhance the viewing experience, ensuring a clear image of those targets. With a focal length of 1200mm, you can observe the finer details of celestial bodies, such as craters on the moon and features of other planets.

This powerful telescope offers up to 133x magnification, allowing you to observe celestial objects in incredible detail. With the included eyepieces, this level of magnification is perfect for viewing the moon and planets. You won’t miss out on any of the finer details.

It’s also well built and easy to use, a huge plus for those without bags of astronomy experience. However, you can get alternatives for a lower price, even if they don’t quite match the Skyline 6″ for quality of specs. We also like the Orion AstroView 90 (opens in new tab) a lot, for which this is a suitable replacement, however, it’s hard to find it in stock online. 

(Image credit: Celestron)

(opens in new tab)

Celestron Omni XLT 102

Ideal for intermediate-level skywatchers


Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: CG-4 equatorial

Aperture: 4.02″ (102 mm)

Focal length: 39.37″ (1000 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 283x

Lowest useful magnification: 15x

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm

Weight: 33 lbs. (15 kg)

Reasons to buy


Very good quality optics


Sturdy design


Easy to accessorize 

Reasons to avoid

Average-quality focuser

Not ideal for absolute beginners

Two to four week lead time in some stores

The Celestron Omni XLT 102 is aimed at intermediate-level skywatchers, particularly those who have mastered setting circles and know how to use the right ascension and declination coordinates on the supplied high-quality CG-4 German equatorial mount.

Featuring Celestron’s StarBright XLT coating to maximize light transmission, the Omni XLT 102 boasts high-quality optics and aspheric shaping technology to reduce spherical aberration, a visual defect in which incoming light is concentrated at select points.

As such, the Omni XLT 102, with its mix of aperture and f/10 focal ratio, is able to produce excellent views of the planets, from Jupiter’s atmospheric bands and moons, to Saturn’s rings and craters on the moon, showing great contrast between areas in shadow and those bathed in daylight. While there is a slight amount of color fringing, views through the optical system are outstanding.

The refractor comes with a 25 mm eyepiece, 1.25-inch star diagonal, heavy-duty stainless steel tripod, accessory tray, spirit level, Starry Night Special Edition software and a 6×30 finderscope.

Best astrophotography telescopes

The Celestron Advanced VX8 comes packaged with Celestron’s imager focused Advanced VX mount (Image credit: Michael A. Covington)

(opens in new tab)

Best for pinpoint sharpness across the whole image


Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Motorized equatorial

Aperture: 8″ (203.2 mm)

Focal length: 80″ (2,032 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 480x

Lowest useful magnification: 29x

Supplied eyepieces: 40 mm

Weight: 61 lbs. (27.67 kg)

Reasons to buy


Great-sized aperture


High-quality optics for flat field


Seamless motorized mount

Reasons to avoid

A little heavier than most

Lens cap can be fiddly

Celestron’s EdgeHD technology turns Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes into high-quality astrographs with perfectly flat fields. The way that the Schmidt-Cassegrain optics focus light usually means that the focal plane  — where the light comes to focus — is curved, but if you are imaging, your CCD camera’s sensor is flat. A curved focal plane on a flat CCD sensor results in field curvature, where stars at the edge of the field tend to blur. This is generally an unwanted effect for astrophotographers.  

We were pleased to find, during our Celestron Advanced VX 8 EdgeHD review, that the optics in the EdgeHD negate the blurred edges, creating a perfectly flat field right to the edge of the frame for pinpoint sharpness across the whole image. The optical performance that the Celestron Advanced VX 8 EdgeHD delivers is impressive, with crisp and clear views with no optical distortion or false color.

As an added bonus, the optical tube assembly comes packaged with Celestron’s Advanced VX mount, which is tailor-made for imagers, capable of photographing across the meridian (an imaginary north-south line) without needing to do a meridian flip. The setup also performs periodic corrections to remove errors when tracking objects and also features an auto guider port. 

The Celestron Advanced VX9.25 EdgeHD can carry a load up to 30 lbs. (13.6 kilograms) too, so the tube and all your imaging accessories are fully supported and stable. Also included are the standard NexStar+ hand controller, a 40 mm eyepiece, and access to Celestron’s SkyPortal app (opens in new tab) and Starry Night Special Edition software (opens in new tab). Check out our Celestron deals page to see if you can snap up a bargain.

This is a scope that is a great astrophotography all-rounder. Capture everything from planets to deep-sky subjects. (Image credit: Sky-Watcher)

(opens in new tab)

Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 PRO

Best for accessory loving astrophotographers


Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain

Mount type: Equatorial (EQ-5 Pro)

Aperture: 5.90″ (150 mm)

Focal length: 70.87″ (1,800 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 450x

Focal ratio: f/12

Supplied eyepieces: 28 mm

Weight: 13.23 lbs. (6 kg)

Reasons to buy


High-quality build


Excellent optics


Great for a wide selection of astrophotography

Reasons to avoid

Not all models come with a tripod

Comes with only one eyepiece

Sky-Watcher’s Skymax 150 is a great package for the price, with some models offering a high-quality equatorial mount for short-exposure astrophotography and long-exposure imaging. This well-constructed Maksutov-Cassegrain also comes with a single eyepiece with a focal length of 28 mm for a magnification of 64x.

Weighing in at 13.23 lbs. (6 kilograms), the Skymax 150 is suitable for most regular equatorial mounts — many makes and models will be able to take the load of both the telescope and extra accessories, including CCD or DSLR cameras, filter wheels and other such add-ons. For versatility in the type of mount you choose, a Vixen-style dovetail plate is supplied for a moderate price tag.

The Skymax 150’s optical prowess is outstanding, with no sign of optical distortion. The telescope is a great all-arounder, suitable for imaging everything from the planets to deep-sky galaxies and nebulas — and as you would expect for a telescope designed for giving great images. As an added bonus, the instrument is a breeze to use and accessorize.

The focuser is lovely and smooth to operate and the Skymax 150 keeps a good amount of fine focus once it’s been found — vital for those long imaging sessions.

Telescope types comparison

If your biggest question is, ‘which type of telescope type should I buy?’ let us help. Reflector vs refractor vs catadioptric telescopes: There are some key differences between how they work and how each type of telescope is helpful for different observations. Telescopes look visually similar from when the telescope was invented but there have been many improvements to both design and function over the years.

Before purchasing one of the best telescopes available, it is important to consider your desired outcome. Are you looking to observe distant star clusters, nebulas and galaxies? A reflector telescope is undoubtedly the most suitable option if the answer is yes.

Telescope Glossary

Aperture: The diameter of the primary mirror or lens, where the telescope collects light.
Field of view: Area of sky visible through the eyepiece.
Focal length: A telescope’s tube length. Short focal lengths offer a wide field of view and a small image.
Focal ratio: Also known as the telescope’s speed. Small focal ratios provide lower magnifications, a wide field of view and a brighter image.
Magnification: The relationship between the telescope’s optical system and the eyepiece. 

Alternatively, a refractor telescope is the best choice if you are mainly interested in seeing the moon and other planets in our own galaxy.

Another option would be a catadioptric telescope, which can work as a happy middle ground. Some models have computerized motors that make aligning and tracking targets easy and can even capture images for you, excellent news for astrophotographers.

The aperture size is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a telescope, followed by the focal length. The main thing to remember here is that bigger isn’t always better. 

It all comes down to what subjects you want to view. Shorter focal lengths, saf about 20 inches (500 mm), will provide a field of view for you to take in large areas of the Milky Way and showpieces such as the Pleiades (Messier 45) and Orion Nebula (Messier 42). Meanwhile, high-power objects like the moon, planets or double stars need a telescope with a longer focal length of about 80 inches (2000 mm). 

If you can’t decide, there are plenty of compromises between aperture and focal length, but you must be willing to make a few trade-offs regarding the weight of your instrument, the field of view and its ‘power.’ Read on for what you can expect from the three major kinds of telescope: the refractor, reflector and catadioptric.

How does a refractor telescope work?

Refractors are usually supplied with a simple alt-azimuth mount that allows you to slew from left to right and up and down (Image credit: Celestron)

As their name suggests, refractors bend (or refract) the light that they gather to give you a view of your astronomical target. As telescopes go, they have a fairly straightforward assembly and consist of a main objective lens at one end that focuses light through to the other (the bit you look through). 

Intuitive to use, the refractor is often a popular choice of instrument for novice astronomers since they require little maintenance and are usually affixed to the simple alt-azimuth mount, which allows the skywatcher to slew from left to right and up and down in order to locate the desired target. Being easy to use means that these telescopes are also simple to manufacture, making them cheaper to buy with price points increasing with aperture size.

Refractors are particularly good at giving highly magnified and high-contrast images. Because of this, they are ideal instruments to use when looking at solar system targets such as the moon and the planets. The best refractors usually have an aperture of two inches (60 mm) or more and will provide reasonable views of astronomical objects. If you’re looking for a larger aperture, then a three- or four-inch (80 mm to 90 mm) will suit you best. 

The drawback of a refractor is that they can suffer from chromatic aberration, also known as color fringing. When a single lens doesn’t focus all of the colors emitted from a target object at the same point, bright objects such as the moon, Venus or Jupiter usually have a colored halo around them. Many refractors are manufactured as achromatic or apochromatic (also known as Extra Dispersion (ED) telescopes) to reduce this problem.

The achromatic refractor is cheaper than the apochromatic refractor and, combined with its efficiency, is often the type of telescope that novice astronomers go for. Even if you decide to go for the more expensive achromat, you’re still likely to get a stubborn degree of purple fringing around some targets. 

Unless you’re a seasoned skywatcher and you can afford to go for the more expensive apochromat — which corrects for such an effect by using exotic glass for the lenses — this degree of color fringing will not ruin your observing experience to any great extent. If you decide to go for the expensive option, you will be stunned by the views you will get through these excellent telescopes. 

Something to consider though: you might find that some apochromats come without a tripod, so you’d need to buy one separately along with any other accessories.

How does a reflector telescope work?

Reflector telescopes are excellent for low-magnification targets such as galaxies and nebulas (Image credit: Orion)

There are two common types of reflector telescope — the Newtonian and the Dobsonian. However, the way these instruments operate is exactly the same — they both use mirrors to reflect light to create an image of the object you’re looking at. 

The Newtonian telescope comprises a curved-light collecting mirror, which can be found at the tube’s base. The light that hits this mirror is reflected back to the front of the tube, where a smaller flat mirror — orientated at 45-degrees — brings light to the observer who can see their chosen object.

The Newtonian can be found on alt-azimuth mounts, but you shouldn’t be too surprised to find this type of reflector is more popularly affixed to an equatorial mount, allowing the telescope to follow the rotation of the sky while being aligned with your hemisphere’s celestial pole. This reflector is a favorite in the amateur astronomy community due to its versatility by observing a wide selection of astronomical targets and allowing for astrophotography. With Newtonians, you can also buy a large aperture for less money — for instance, an eight-inch (203.2 mm) reflector would cost you less than a refractor with the same aperture, allowing you to get much more value for your money. 

On the downside, the Newtonian doesn’t come hassle-free, especially regarding maintenance. You might find yourself having to have optical mirrors realigned as well as the mirror’s surfaces repainted since they can eventually become tarnished. If you choose to go for a reflector of this sort, you should always choose one with mirrors with a protective coating as they will last longer.

Some beginners to the hobby of astronomy might find setting up and using an equatorial mount tricky and that’s where the Dobsonian comes in. These telescopes give the capabilities of a reflector without the complexities an equatorial mount will bring since it employs an alt-azimuth mount. Dobsonians are very simple to use and can easily be pulled into orientation when looking at astronomical objects. If you’re not confident in navigating your telescope though, then GoTo or computerized Dobsonians and Newtonians (that slew to objects for you) are on the market — but at a higher cost. 

Whatever reflector you choose, these telescopes are excellent for low-magnification targets such as galaxies and many types of nebulas.  

How does a catadioptric telescope work?

The short optical tube allows high power magnifications in smaller packages. (Image credit: Meade Instruments)

To get the best of both reflectors and refractors, manufacturers developed the Schmidt-Cassegrain and the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes. These catadioptric telescopes generally correct issues found in refractors and reflectors.

The Maksutov-Cassegrain corrects the problem that the reflector experiences — an aberration effect called ‘coma,’ which can make objects look distorted and appear like they have a tail. This effect is reduced or banished with the combined efforts of a mirror and a corrector lens. The Maksutov is ideal for beginners or for those who don’t have the time (or money!) to complete any extensive maintenance on their instrument since the tube’s optics are sealed off. 

This catadioptric is very robust and is the ideal family telescope. Packed into its short optical tube is a system that allows you to target higher magnification objects such as the planets, moon and double stars. You’ll be able to pick up a Maksutov for a very good price and, if you struggle to find objects and your way around the night sky, then both this type of catadioptric telescope and the Schmidt-Cassegrain can be found in abundance and equipped with a GoTo system.

What you get with a Schmidt-Cassegrain is very similar to the capabilities of the Maksutov. It will allow you to make general observations of planetary targets and stars. It is also possible to expand the telescope’s field of view with the help of corrector lenses, allowing you to view an even wider selection of astronomical targets.  

The catadioptric telescope is also suitable if you want to try astrophotography, but combine this with their marked improvement on your standard telescope and you should expect a substantial rise in cost compared to standard reflect and refractors. 

How we test the best telescopes

To guarantee you’re getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best telescopes to buy here at we make sure to put every telescope through a rigorous review to fully test each instrument. Each telescope is reviewed based on numerous aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.

Our expert staff and knowledgeable freelance contributors thoroughly test each telescope. This ensures honest reviewing based on the telescope’s price, category, and intended use. For example, a 10-inch Dobsonian should not be compared to a 2.76-inch refractor, even though they may be the best in their own class.

We assess the ease of setup of both computerized and motorized mounts, as well as their reliability, accuracy, and noise level. Additionally, we decipher whether a telescope comes with appropriate eyepieces and tripods. We also make suggestions for any additional kits that may be beneficial for the best experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on telescopes, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.

Photographer Roy Iwasaki Captured Dreamy-Looking Photos Of Trees In Hokkaido, Japan

Japanese photographer Roy Iwasaki captured dreamy-looking photos of trees from his hometown Hokkaido, Japan. “I love to photograph trees, especially ones in my hometown of Hokkaido (Japan). When I see a single tree standing in the middle of a vast snowfield in winter, it is like looking at a work of art created by nature. Especially these days, when I see a tree, I am always thinking about how to express the beauty of the tree. Trees are important to many different creatures.”

You can find more info about Roy Iwasaki:

#1 “Safe Haven For Ezo Red Fox”

Ten years ago, while driving through the picturesque countryside of my birthplace, Shibetsu City, I stumbled upon a scene so beautiful that I was compelled to capture it on film. It was a tree standing tall and proud in a vast snowfield, illuminated by the warm glow of the setting sun. This moment ignited a passion within me for photographing trees, particularly those in my hometown of Hokkaido, Japan.

#2 “A Couple Of Sakura”

#3 “Winter Is Gone”

Today, I make a daily pilgrimage to this beautiful region, capturing the essence of trees and their connection to the people and animals that inhabit the area. Trees have always been an object of fascination for me, not just because of their natural beauty but also because of how they exist in harmony with man-made objects. I choose to photograph during the morning or evening hours, when the light is most dramatic and the trees come alive with a certain mystique.

#4 “Stretching Fox”

#5 “Frozen Puddle”

In a world full of negativity, with issues such as war, infectious diseases, and energy problems looming large, it can often be difficult to find happiness in our immediate surroundings. Trees and animals are an essential source of healing, bringing a sense of peace and tranquility to our lives. Through my photography, I hope to inspire others to look for and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, even in the most unexpected of places.

#6 “Moonlight And Blue Pond”

#7 “Indigo Blue”

One place that has always held a special place in my heart is the Tree of Friends, a beautiful location in Shibetsu City. I recall one particular evening, when I was standing shoulder to shoulder with a now-deceased senior photographer, capturing the stunning scenery. He called this place the Tree of Friends, and I was struck by how the trees seemed to stand united, facing the sun in unison. Sadly, the trees have since been cut down to make way for farmland, a painful reminder of the ephemeral nature of life.

#8 “Only For Two People”

#9 “Winter Of Silence”

Photography has allowed me to find solace in the natural world, and the trees have become an endless source of inspiration and joy. The morning and evening sun, in particular, hold a special allure, with their ever-changing colors and shadows. Although I don’t have any specific projects planned for the future, I will continue to seek out new ways of expressing myself through my art, taking one step at a time in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the beauty that surrounds us.

#10 “Winter Blue Pond”

#11 “The Tree Of Silence”

#12 “Sunlight”

#13 “Moon & Tree”

#14 “Conceptual”

#15 “Blue Pond Of Late Autumn”

#16 “River Tree”

#17 “One Tree”

#18 “Illuminated Blue Pond”

#19 “Blue Pond Light Up”

#20 “Tree Of Friends”

#21 “Loneliness”

#22 “Trees In The Sun”

#23 “Alone”

#24 “Lonely”

#25 “Sunshine”

#26 “Flow”

Related Articles:

Nature Forward Shows Off Stunning Photography Project at Annual ‘Taking Nature Black’ Conference

In an expansive and high-ceilinged auditorium in the Silver Spring Civic Center, a small collection of images hung unobtrusively on the wall in a front corner of the room.

Kevin Lukusa at Sligo Creek Trail in Takoma Park (Benjamin Israel/Taking Nature Black & U.S. Forest Service)

The images came from a project called “Belonging: The Black Americans in Nature Photography Project.” The project, released along with an accompanying ebook last spring, aims to increase Black representation in nature imagery and help reclaim Black narratives in natural spaces.

Despite the exhibit’s small place in the auditorium’s corner, the pictures—and their theme—took center stage on March 10, the in-person day of Nature Forward’s four-day “Taking Nature Black” conference. 

“This conference, and all of you, are reigniting an appreciation for the land and a deep love for each other [and] our communities, to create places where we unapologetically know we belong,” said Jalonne White-Newsome, Senior Director for Environmental Justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Queen Shabazz and Melchisedek Messiah Shabazz at Forest Hill Park in Richmond, Virginia (Benjamin Israel/Taking Nature Black & U.S. Forest Service)

White-Newsome served as the keynote speaker during the in-person part of the conference. She joined a packed lineup of in-person and virtual conference speakers that included federal environmental officials alongside local grassroots activists, scientists and artists. Many of the event’s local speakers and panelists also appear in the “Belonging” pictures.

The “Belonging” project, created through a collaboration between Taking Nature Black and the U.S. Forest Service, shows off natural spaces in the DMV region. Participants could choose where they wanted to have photos taken.

Kayla Benjamin covers climate change & environmental justice for the Informer as a full-time reporter through the Report for America program. Prior to her time here, she worked at Washingtonian Magazine…
More by Kayla Benjamin

Las Fotos Project: Teen girls use photos as self-expression

Sometimes it takes serendipity for magic to happen. That’s true for capturing the perfect moment with a camera, and it was also true for Las Fotos Project. They’re a nonprofit organization that teaches and mentors youth from communities of color in the art, craft, and business of photography.

“All the boys in the workshop dropped out,” recounts Lucia Torres, executive director of Las Fotos Project, on the early days of their project. “That’s actually the reason why we ended up being an all-teen girl and gender-expansive youth organization.”

Photo by Las Fotos Project student Sawyer Sarinana.

The mission of Las Fotos has largely been shaped around that sudden departure of boys. The project allowed teen girls and gender-expansive youth a creative space to express themselves in a way in which they weren’t allowed elsewhere.

“The things that the young women were expressing [in] that workshop are things that they wouldn’t have expressed if there were other people who didn’t have their experiences in the room, a-k-a boys,” says Torres.

Las Fotos Project students, who receive individual mentorship from 35-40 volunteer photographers and artists, have found a much needed emotional outlet in photography. 

“They can be vulnerable … and not be judged for what they’re thinking or how they’re feeling,” says Torres. ”We don’t want them to continue bottling up what they’ve been bottling up for long periods of time now.”

Today, Las Fotos is not just a creative safe space, but an organization with more ambitious aims. They offer equipment, guidance, and moral support to students who are hoping to use their newly learned skills for a potential career in photography, or just to make a few bucks as a freelancer. 

“Our students after learning these technical skills [came] back saying, ‘My neighbor wants to hire me for a quinceañera. What do I charge them?’” recalls Torres.

Las Fotos Project students are also encouraged not just to turn the lens on themselves, but also on the people and issues in their communities that may be less visible in mainstream media. 

“Recently, we’ve had a lot of students highlighting small businesses who have either really struggled under COVID, or are being very resilient and very creative, with the work that they’re doing in the community,” explains Torres. 

The opportunity to document and express, to learn and refine, has also extended outside of the communities of color Las Fotos Project students live in. Angel City FC, LA’s professional women’s soccer team, allows students to be on the field to document live games.

“I would be frightened to death,” jokes Torres. “[But] they’re gaining these wonderful experiences and opportunities to really grow in the field, and become professional photographers.”

Photo by Las Fotos Project student Mia Figueroa.

How to Start a Photography Business and Create Passive Income

  • Between classes, Charis Cheung runs a photography side hustle focused on creative and editorial images.
  • Cheung booked five figures in revenue last year, some of which came from passive income streams.
  • She explains how she leveraged TikTok to find clients and earns passive income from her side hustle.

When Charis Cheung isn’t pursuing her undergraduate degree at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, she’s running her photography side hustle. 

What began as a hobby she adopted when was 7 has developed into a photography business called Charis Cheung Photography, which specializes in editorial and creative imagery. In between classes, the 19-year-old can be found shooting album covers for emerging musicians or snapping photos of influencers for their social-media feeds.

Cheung is one of many Gen Zers who’ve adopted freelancing recently, according to Upwork’s “Freelance Forward 2022” report, which studied 3,000 professionals. Last year, 46% of millennial professionals and 43% of Gen Z professionals surveyed performed freelance work.

Cheung’s work ranges between three and 12 clients a month, each of which requires about five or six hours shooting and editing. She also earns passive income by selling her “presets,” or a series of photo edits that others can purchase and lay over their own photos to achieve a similar look to Cheung’s style. She booked five figures in revenue in 2022, $2,000 of which came passively through the presets.

She shared how she built and scaled a photography side hustle. This is an as-told-to story based on an interview that has been slightly edited for length and clarity. 

Defining my style helped me find customers

Cheung describes her style as glowy and ethereal.


I’d describe my style as glowy and ethereal, but it took me years to get to this point. I started taking photos when I was in middle school using my iPad or my mom’s camera. Then I bought a Canon EOS 80D and started asking friends if they wanted to do shoots. 

I found inspiration from photographers on Instagram and YouTube, and I’d practice their techniques and styles with my friends. Over time, I created my own style.

Creating that style helped me find clients I was excited about. Instead of traditional headshots or graduation shoots, I’ve been able to work with creatives like me in music, art, and fashion.

TikTok changed my business trajectory

The majority of my clients found me on TikTok. The less I post on TikTok, the fewer clients I have, and vice versa. It’s also been great for generating customers in other creative fields because many of them use TikTok for work, too.

To help prospective clients understand how I work, I share both my behind-the-scenes footage of photo shoots and my final work. I also make sure to include the hashtags #photographer and #LAphotographer because clients often use TikTok as a search engine to find professionals in their area.

Cheung goes behind the scenes and shares the final work on TikTok.


I expanded my services to include passive income streams 

Earlier in the pandemic, I also developed my own “presets.” That was a cool milestone in my career because people liked my work and my editing style enough to purchase it for themselves.

It’s also a good way to make money. I created the presets while editing, which I would have done anyway to edit my own work, and sold them. Now I get random bunches of money automatically deposited into my account, from $10 to $50. 

Cheung also works as a creative director for some client shoots.


I also sell my services as a creative director, where I work on styling, props, and the vision for the shoot. It’s a way to make additional money because clients pay extra for the concept curation, especially singer-songwriters who need a unique idea for their album art.

What I love most about all these jobs is planning the entire idea based on my creativity.

The Photo Finale winners from the first Napa Valley Mustard Celebration

YOUNTVILLE — The exhibition of entries in the first Photo Finale, part of the Napa Valley Mustard Celebration, is on display at the Jessup Cellars Gallery in Yountville through March 31. 

The open invitation photography competition is the brainchild of Napa Valley photographer MJ Schaer, who started working on the idea in September 2022. Schaer said his goal was “to attract professional and amateur photographers throughout the wine country to break out their cameras and capture that one-of-a-kind image.”

Schaer, who served director as well as founder for the inaugural photo competition, said he was pleased with the response, which brought in 72 submissions from 44 photographers, all studies of the wild mustard plant that blooms in profusion throughout the valley and serves as a cover crop in vineyards during the winter.

The show opened at Jessup on March 4. It “celebrates nature’s unmatched ‘yellow gold’ beauty and (the) splendor of the winter mustard bloom that blankets Napa Valley’s landscape and vineyards, up and down the valley from December through March,” Schaer said. 

People are also reading…

Photographers had four categories from which to choose: landscape; people/pets; innovative and food and wine.

Judging from the winners, dogs proved to be a popular choice for subjects appreciating mustard. 

Schaer said the first, second, third and honorable mentions ribbons have been awarded to the top four photographs in each of the 2023 categories.

— First place: Dean Busquaert

— Second place: MJ Schaer

— Third place: Nancy Hernandez

— Honorable Mention: Jena Kaeppeli

— First place: Kennedy Schultz

— Second place: Lyra Nerona

— Third place: Marilyn Ferrante

— Honorable Mention: Ronda Schaer

— First place: Francine Marie

— Second place: Katherine Zimmer

— Third place: Francine Marie

— Honorable Mention: Hilary Brodey

There were no entries in the food and wine category this year, Schaer said. 

Voting for Peoples’ Choice is open until March 29 in the Gallery at Jessup Cellars, Schaer said. The Peoples’ Choice award will be announced on March 30 at the closing reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The show “has been a big success,” Schaer said. “Plans for 2024 are already in the works.

“I am so pleased with the entry submissions by professional and amateur photographers,” he said. “The unique facility at Jessup Cellars Gallery gives the exhibition a true wine country setting and experience.

“This year, Nature’s Mustard Plant is getting the recognition throughout Napa Valley that it deserves.”

Artist Jessel Miller, owner of the Jessel Gallery in Napa, led the effort to re-establish a winter celebration of mustard after the demise of the Napa Valley Mustard Festival in 2010. The idea took off this year, inspiring everything from mustard infused menus at restaurants to mustard treatments at local spas, as well as mustard-inspired art. 

A complete list of Mustard Celebration activities can be found on the website,

Photo Finale 2023 exhibition at Jessup Cellars Gallery, 6740 Washington Street, Yountville, is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. The photographs are available for purchase. For more information, visit the 

Check out Napa Valley’s 2021 mustard bloom. The yellow flower has carpeted the valley.

Stargazers to descend on Kerry for Skellig Coast Dark Sky Festival

Following a very successful inaugural festival in 2022, the Skellig Coast Dark Sky festival will take place again this weekend. With a fresh new line-up of events, there are events to suit every level of stargazer.

ne of the festival’s highlights this year will be the number of astrophotography events including an astrophotography exhibition trail across the Iveragh peninsula co-ordinated by the Astrophotography Club Ireland. 

Other events over the weekend will include multiple opportunities for guided stargazing across the Friday and Saturday nights, talks on astronomy-related folklore and history from Seán Mac an tSithigh and Paul Callenan, archaeology and rock art events, and child-friendly activities.

Exhibition photos have been curated by the Astrophotography Club Ireland and will be available to view at locations such as Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, The Blind Piper Caherdaniel, Goldens of Kells, and at Skellig Six 18 Distillery and Visitor Experience who have sponsored the festival. 

Festival coordinator Aoibheann Lambe said of this year’s evenets are now and exciting. 

“We are delighted to have such a focus on astrophotography at the festival this year; its an area of photography that is currently very popular.”

This years festival is being co-organised by the LIVE project and the Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh. The LIVE project has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through its Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme.

Evoke Tintype in Revere keeps Civil War-era photography technique alive

With the flash of a camera, Maureen Feeley and Dave Caramello of Evoke Tintype can open a portal to another time.

Their subjects’ eyes gleam like quicksilver, their faces rendered in varying shades of black and white. If not for the 21st century details — a nose ring here, a modern haircut there — it might even be difficult to tell whether these photos were taken in 2023, or 150 years prior. 

In their Revere studio, armed with a 1940s’ Deardorff camera, Feeley and Caramello are able to capture the magic of tintype, an antiquated form of photography dating back to the Civil War era. The method uses UV-sensitive collodion to create photographs on thin pieces of metal, resulting in a black-and-white image with stunning detail. 

“They almost look three-dimensional when you see them, and the way people are photographed, their eyes are almost alive in the photo,” Caramello told in a recent interview.

© Provided by
Collodion, which is used to create photographs on thin pieces of metal, is UV-sensitive, meaning blues and violets show up as white.

The couple came across tintype by pure coincidence after delving into photography during the early days of the pandemic. Feeley stumbled upon a tintype image while parsing through YouTube videos to learn about composition and technique.

“And that was it for me,” she recalled. “I was blown away, and I just knew I wanted to learn how to do it, and luckily Dave came along with me and we learned together.”

They launched Evoke last April, offering portrait sittings and still-life photos. 

How Evoke Tintype’s process works

“For the most part, we follow everything exactly the way it was done in the 19th century, except for the fact that we’re using strobe lighting in our studio,” Caramello explained. “Back in the 1800s, they used natural light, so they were long exposures where people would have to sit for 20, 30 seconds at a time — sometimes as long as a minute.”

“That’s why nobody was smiling,” Feeley laughed.

Between exposing, developing, and varnishing the plate, it takes about 15 minutes to make one tintype, Caramello said.

Given how slow the process can be, “I think the sitter gets a little more relaxed, and they let their guard down a little bit,” Feeley said. “So people aren’t, I think, as nervous when they’re getting their picture taken because it’s just so slow, you just have to kind of relax.”

She said children are some of her favorite subjects to photograph. 

© Provided by
Evoke Tintype owner Maureen Feeley said children are some of her favorite subjects to photograph: “I just feel like their personality comes through, because you can’t really make them pose a certain way.”

“I just feel like their personality comes through, because you can’t really make them pose a certain way,” Feeley explained, recalling one small child who refused to smile for the camera, instead folding his arms defiantly. 

“His photo kind of looks like the spirit of Tony Soprano,” Caramello cracked.

Unlike other photographs, tintypes show a reversed image — in other words, how you would see yourself in the mirror. 

“So people look more familiar to themselves, and so many people have said, ‘This is the best picture I’ve seen of myself,’” Feeley said.  

Tintype photographs are also near-grainless, Caramello said. 

“So when you see a tintype image, it’s probably the clearest image that you’ve ever seen in a photograph in general, never mind a photograph of yourself,” he said. “There isn’t a digital camera made today — or an analog camera, for that matter — that can capture images with such sharpness and detail as tintypes.”

Making a memory

Evoke advertises as an add-on experience for Airbnb guests staying in Boston, which has allowed Feeley and Caramello to meet travelers from all over the world. They said they also get a lot of couples looking for a unique date night activity. 

“When you come to the studio, you can actually join us in the dark room,” Caramello said. “You can see the plate being made; you can see the plate being developed.”

© Provided by
Tintype photography produces a near-grainless image for ultimate clarity, according to Dave Caramello.

Evoke has gained momentum in the months since its launch, helped along by word-of-mouth advertising. The business has also participated in the Boston Open Market in Copley Square and led workshops and demonstrations at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and Hunt’s Photo. 

“One of the things that I find that’s kind of unique is how many young people are interested in the process,” Caramello said. “I figured we would get older folks kind of longing for the past, but there’s so many young folks that have probably never even seen an analog camera, let alone experienced using one.”

A musician before he got into sales and marketing, Caramello said he enjoys being back in an artistic field. 

Feeley, meanwhile, said her favorite part of the process is knowing “we’re making a memory that’s going to last forever for the person.”

“These pictures they’ll have hopefully for generations to be passed down in their family,” she said. “And that’s really special.”

The post Blast from the past: Evoke Tintype in Revere keeps Civil War-era photography technique alive appeared first on

Google Pixel 8 Pro may blend cameras for better Night Sight shots

Google is preparing a new feature for the Pixel 8 Pro that would combine multiple cameras to take even better Night Sight photos.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

With the release of the Pixel 7 Pro, Google unveiled an upgrade to the way that telephoto shots are handled. If you zoom in, but not far enough to switch to the telephoto lens, Google Camera will take your intended shot with both the main and telephoto cameras.

Using that additional data, the Pixel 7 Pro can enhance the center portion of the photo with details that wouldn’t normally be visible.
Multi-camera Super Res Zoom on Pixel 7 Pro | Image: Google

Over the weekend, an update for the Google Camera app, version 8.8, began rolling out via the Play Store. In the app’s code, our team has found that Google has included some of the first details for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. We’re still collecting the full details of what’s new for Google’s next flagships, but along the way, we spotted a new feature that’s set to be exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro.

From what we can piece together, the “Multi-camera Super Res Zoom” feature above seems to be referred to in the code as “Hawk” and “FusionZoom.” In a change specific to the Pixel 8 Pro, Google is expanding when this special Hawk variety of Super Res Zoom can be used, enabling it for Night Sight shots.

In practice, the underlying technique should be nearly unchanged, with both camera sensors taking the same shot over an extended period of time. Once the two photos are taken, Google Camera should seamlessly merge them into a single Night Sight (or perhaps astrophotography) shot with even greater detail than you would have had before.

Considering Google has improved Night Sight in some way every year since it debuted on the Pixel 3, it’s no surprise to see the company investing in low-light photos once again. All the same, it should be intriguing to see how Google’s machine learning handles merging long-exposure photos compared to ones shot in well-lit areas.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news: