(WKBN) – When the sun’s out, Donald Cherry is creating rubber extrusion dies for Trelleborg Sealing Profiles in Streetsboro, Ohio. By night, he’s out exploring galaxies and nebulas by taking photos with his telescopes and camera.
“Never really thought I could do astrophotography other than the occasional picture of the moon through an eyepiece with a phone,” Cherry said. “I joined the Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society and met some other astrophotographers. They started showing me some of their equipment and teaching me their techniques and that.”
Cherry has been involved in photography since 1977. He’s had an interest in visual astronomy for about 30 years. Two years ago, he seriously took up astrophotography.
He has three telescopes that he can attach cameras to, and they go on a base. This summer, he created an outdoor set up so that he didn’t have to bring all of his equipment outside. To make it, he buried a little over half of a 6-foot 6-inch-by-6-inch wooden post and mounted a base on top.
“I have apps on my phone,” Cherry said of how he finds different objects to photograph, but when he first started, he used a basic star tracker and a camera lens, making it so that he would have to hunt to find things.
“Since I’ve gotten deeper into it, I’ve bought go-to mounts now,” Cherry said. “The mount has a built-in database of 40,000 or more objects that you can select with a hand controller, and if you do your set-up right, it will take you to any of the objects in that database.”
To date, Cherry said he’s taken photos of between 50 to 70 objects. Each photo is comprised of hundreds of photos stacked on top of one another, creating one layer using Photoshop or Lightroom.
“It’s essentially the exact same shot, taking it over, and over, and over,” Cherry said. “What you do is by stacking more and more images, you are able to capture more detail, you get more dynamic range when you stack.”
Cherry added that he usually takes two to three hours of the same image at two to three minutes of exposure for each image and then layers them into one. He said it takes about six to eight hours between taking the photos and editing to create one image.
“I try to image every clear night. Back in the summer, I was taking quite a few when Comet Neowise was here,” Cherry said. “I’ve shot a lot of different nebulas, a lot of different galaxies.”