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In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky

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Do you fancy learning more about the night skies and how to photograph the beauty of far-away galaxies? Stroud Brewery is hosting a talk by astrophotographer Graeme Healey on Friday, April 1st for anyone who would like to know more.

The talk is called ‘Above and Beyond Gloucestershire’ and is suitable for tall the family and aimed at people with a fledgling interest in astronomy and photography and would like to learn more.

Horsehead Nebula 4.5hrs 1 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
The photo of the Horsehead Nebula required a total exposure time of four-and-a-half hours. Picture: AstroHeartUK.

Graeme, who lives in Thrupp, runs the AstroHeart UK website and Facebook page and has been photographing the night skies for five years and is looking to share his passion with the Stroud community.

Astroheart 4 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
Millie Healey.

“Astro ‘Heart’ is an amalgamation of my love of astronomy and my daughter Millie, who was born with congenital heart disease,” explained Graeme.

“In her first year she had flatlined, had two strokes and three open heart surgeries – the first when she was just 10 days old.”

Moon by Millie 1 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
The photo of the moon, taken by 10-year-old Millie.

Graeme has set up a fundraising page to help Millie fulfil things on her wish list – such as going to London and visiting Big Ben. Millie also enjoys photography and took a stunning photo of the moon and that will be featured in the talk, as will images by Graeme’s son, Sam. Graeme now uses a telescope with a tracker mount for his photography – it counteracts the rotation of the earth to allow long exposures without blurring – but started with more modest equipment.

“My first camera was a Nikon D5300 DSLR with a 70-300mm lens on a static tripod. I used this for my first deep space picture of the Andromeda Galaxy.”

Orion Nebula 3hrs 10 mins 1 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
The Orion Nebula. Picture: AstroHeartUK.

Graeme’s telescope incorporates a specialist digital camera. Some images are made up of tens of stacked exposures made over many hours. However, the British weather dictates how often he can capture his photos of the galaxy. “Last year was appalling, and this year hasn’t been the greatest. Light pollution is also the bane of my life, though I’m lucky that Stroud has ‘class four’ skies – the ratings go from one to nine, with one being the darkest.

Pinwheel Galaxy 5hrs 34mins 1 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
The Pinwheel Galaxy. Picture: AstroHeartUK.

“The clouds, the winds, the rain constantly conspire to thwart our plans of oneness with a universe beyond our own biosphere. The frustration is boundless as we strive to set up the telescope and then have to tear it down quickly again, or cover it or drag the lot back inside because rain has appeared from nowhere.”

Astroheart 2 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
Ben, Millie, Graeme and Sam Healey with Amanda Hayman. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Graeme’s partner, Amanda, believes viewing the night skies has great significance: “It connects people with nature – our ancestors studied the skies throughout history.”

Milky Way Over Burleigh 1 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
Milky Way over Burleigh. Picture: AstroHeartUK.

The couple are in the early stages of planning escapes to landmarks around the UK, visiting and photographing places such as stone circles which are aligned with the stars.

Tickets for the talk cost £5 and can be booked online: Buy tickets for ABOVE AND BEYOND GLOUCESTERSHIRE at Stroud Brewery

You can see more images at Graeme’s website: AstroHeart UK Photography

Pleiades 3hrs 1 | In pictures: exploring the beauty of the night sky
Pleiades. Picture: AstroHeartUK.

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