A local astrophotographer has received a nice bit of global recognition for his excellent work. A photo of the Rosette Nebula by Matt Dahl, a co-owner of Cloud Break Optics in Seattle, has been published in the reader gallery section of the March 2016 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine. Dahl has submitted a number of photos to the magazine in the past, but this is the first time one has made it into print.
“It’s really neat, and a lot of people have seen it, which is cool,” he said. “It’s good exposure.”
Dahl created the photo from more than 13 hours of exposures collected over two nights about a year ago.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of time in the cold, and even more time in the warmth post-processing,” he said. “It requires a lot of time to get the detail that you want.”
“It’s definitely a process but it’s nice when it pays off,” Dahl added.
Interestingly enough, the gallery includes two shots of the Rosette, making for a nice comparison of the different results photographers can get depending on the filters they use and other techniques.
Photos, or just looking?
Dahl enjoys visual observing as well as astrophotography.
“One of the things I really like about imaging is that I have a goal and I get a product at the end,” he said. “I like the visual aspect, I like to be able to look at stuff. But there’s this whole process I go through. It’s somewhat cathartic, despite the fact that it takes a long time to do it. I really enjoy, and I find very relaxing, just sitting with my scope—or having my scope running, and sleeping!”
Dahl feels that amateur astronomers are making images that rival what professional observatories were turning out two decades ago, and they’re doing it with cameras that can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
“The technology, both in its advancement but also in its affordability to the amateur, has been impressive,” he noted. “It’s nice to have this available as a means for enjoying the hobby.”
The March issue of Sky & Telescope is on the newsstands now. You can see some of Dahl’s other images on his Flickr page.