Tinian’s skies are an astronomy lovers’ dream. With the island’s absence of light pollution, the night sky lights up with constellations and glimpses of majestic beauty.
Since 2020, astrophotographer Joshua Brazzle has refined the art of capturing photos of space.
Brazzle had been interested in astronomy since childhood, but he took his passion to the next level after stumbling upon YouTube videos about astrophotography, which morphed into his lockdown hobby when the pandemic prompted the community to stick closer to home.
To create his photographs, Brazzle uses an Orion 8-inch Newtonian reflector telescope, and sky view pro-mount using a DSLR camera.
The mount “tracks the rotation of Earth once you switch it on,” Brazzle explained.
Using the DSLR camera, which is screwed on to the telescope’s eyepiece, Brazzle takes numerous photos.
“So what you’re doing is pretty much taking faint light, that’s millions of light years away, and then you have to take so many exposures,” he said.
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“There’s a setting on the DSLR, usually you can take that first photo up to one second or longer, as long as you want it. The longer you take the photo, the more light you’re sucking in. For example, if you take 15 seconds of 300 photos, whatever object you’re taking a photo of, a galaxy or a nebula, or a star cluster, and then you go to your computer and edit it. It becomes clearer in detail because all of those photos are pushed into one,” he said.
He usually takes the photos from his house in Carolina Heights, but occasionally will bring his astrophotography set-up to another location for a better vantage point, or when the occasion of a lunar eclipse calls for it.
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Of the many stunning photographs that Brazzle’s produced, his personal favorite targets to capture are the Orion Nebula and Andromeda Galaxy.
“If it’s a really dark area, like where I live, you can actually see it (the Orion Nebula) with the naked eye,” Brazzle shared.
For budding astrophotographers, Brazzle recommends using what you have — he started out using his cell phone.
“There’s certain apps and … phones are now developed to where you can do long exposures through it. For example, the iPhone, I think iPhone 11 to 14, if it’s lowlight, it’ll have a delay on it and it’ll say three second, ten second pause. It’s a similar process to long exposure, it’s sucking in more light. You just need a simple tripod and an iPhone,” he said.
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He urges everyone to take time to do some stargazing in a dark place. To fully appreciate the wonders of our island skies, Brazzle recommends downloading an app like Stellarium, an astronomy app which helps users to identify and search for certain targets.
Brazzle hopes to begin selling his photographs by 2023, and stargazers can keep up with his work by following him on Instagram at @tinianfitastrodad.