Welcome to my astrophotography journal. My name is Philip B.

I discovered taking photos of deep-sky objects in 2008 when I lived in Fountain Valley, California. During a conversation, my good friend, John P, a high-school teacher from Irvine, told me about his passion for astrophotography. He often visited a dark-sky location in the hills around Lake Elsinore to capture images of nebulae and galaxies. Being an enthusiastic photographer myself, the idea of making images of deep-sky objects with a telescope excited me, and I got hooked! Soon afterwards, I bought my first telescope, an 8-inch Newtonian Astrograph reflector, and quickly learned how frustrating, wonderful, tricky, and rewarding this new hobby would be. John’s camera collected photons, and I wrestled with cable issues, accurate polar alignment, and guiding problems. So we spent many nights under the stars, often without a word, simply contemplating “life, the universe, and everything.”

Southern California coastal weather did not make things easy. Traffic southbound on the 73 towards San Juan Capistrano and then through the Ortega Highway mountain pass towards Lake Elsinore could get busy. We had to get to our “secret” spot with enough daylight to set up before dark, and the drive took just over an hour if we managed to bug out in time on a Friday afternoon. The gods often answered our optimistic hopes for good weather with cold, breezy, dewy, and cloudy nights. Yet, every year, when the conditions were just right, those hills sang, and our humble camping chairs transformed into the Tardis, flying through time and space. We could travel thousands of years back in time while our cameras were taking snapshots like tourists. I often still muttered under my breath about cables and guiding difficulties. Still, John’s images from those nights left us feeling that it was well worth the effort when wind or clouds washed out our hopes on all the other nights. Knocking on the sky and listening to the sound is not something one can explain in words; it is a unique experience.

I eventually sold my equipment before moving abroad to Germany in 2015 (moving is not easy or cheap for sensitive, bulky astronomy equipment). I bought a new telescope in 2017 with every solemn intention of “knocking on the sky” again. Still, before that could fully materialize to the point of regularly imaging again, life offered me a whole new adventure. I moved with my second wife to the Netherlands and took my telescope with me this time. We now live near Amsterdam with our two energetic boys and two lazy/crazy cats. The weather in NL is more challenging than in Southern California, so I am fortunate to host my telescope in a permanent observatory near Castilléjar, Spain. I started this online journal because, with the friendly help of Dave, the owner of Pixelskies, we recently got all my equipment set up to start knocking on the sky again. With the incredible advancements in technology, I now operate my equipment remotely and script it to image autonomously at night. This hosting solution provides me with the best of two worlds – first, I can photograph whenever the skies are clear in Spain without tolerating the elements. Secondly, I can enjoy clear skies with my family when we get them without technical worries.

Again, welcome to my journal! Come with me and listen to the sky when I knock.