A New Brighton man recently reached the finals of the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, coming ahead of thousands of other entries from around the globe.
Rich Addis took up astrophotography as a hobby about 5 years ago, influenced by his dad who was a physicist and sparked his interest in astronomy. Rich said, “He used to talk to me a lot about [physics] when I was little, so I was into space from a young age.
“Astrophotography just came naturally after seeing things through the telescope and wanting to capture them to share with other people. My wife bought me my first telescope for Christmas about 5 years ago … and I was taking photos of the moon, simply by holding my phone camera over the telescope eyepiece.”
From this basic introduction to astrophotography, Rich was eager to improve on the quality of the photographs he was making. He realised that Saturn would be at a certain point in the sky soon and so decided to upgrade his kit, “that’s when I bought my second telescope and it just took off from there, really”, he said.
If you’re thinking of dipping your toe in the water with astrophotography, Rich has some advice: “To start, smart phones are getting better [for astrophotography] all the time.” He continued his advice by saying that there is no need to spend a lot of money on your first set of equipment, you can get reasonable quality telescopes online for a sensible price. All you need then is a computer to “stack” and edit the images you have taken.
Rich makes his lunar photographs close to home, sometimes from right in his back garden. As well as New Brighton, one of his favourite spots for “dark skies” photography is Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales. He recently went there with his daughter, “We drove two hours to a ‘Dark Sky’ area to look at the Cosmos. It was so dark, there was no light except the universe above us! She described it as a ‘Once in a Lifetime Experience'”, he recounts proudly.
Rich admires the work of planetary photographer, Damien Peach who photographs the planets of the solar system from the mountainous regions in Chile and Alyn Wallace who is a “landscape astrophotographer” based in South Wales.
Being shortlisted for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is one of the highlights of his time spent on the hobby. However, he goes on to say “I’ve had two images featured by NASA for their ‘Astronomy Photographer of the Day’ feature which is a coveted honour that astrophotographers aspire to. I’ve also had three images featured in the BBC’s ‘Sky at Night’ magazine. I’m really proud of all of these!”
If you feel inspired to ‘reach for the stars, Rich says, “Mars is amazing at this time of year! It is very high in the sky up about 45° above the horizon – it’s really impressive at the moment.” Looking over the coming weeks & months,”, Rich continues, “the Constellation of Orion will be visible and it is pink and red and really beautiful!”
You can see more of Rich’s images at https://www.instagram.com/richaddisastro/