Dieter Willasch

As a boy I was dreaming about space travels and designed space rockets in which I planned to fly to the stars. The night sky showed me this wonderful new land of unlimited discovery. Men were landing on the moon in 1969.This was for me the most important adventure and success of mankind.

At that time I had just graduated in Physics from the Technical University in Berlin and started to work in an industrial research lab to make another dream come true: To look at the very small, i.e. molecules and atoms by means of electron beams, in short electron microscopy.

For the next thirty years I was then engaged in a very earthbound adventure: Managing businesses in different environments and places, dimming my childhood dreams.

After retiring I was free and had finally the time to engage in amateur astronomy, a means to discover the cosmos without travelling there. My early background in Physics  helped to overcome the first theoretical and practical hurdles when I started off with a Celestron Nexstar 5 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a set of 16x70 Fujinon binoculars. In the meantime more instrumentation has been added. Since we decided to live 6 months each year in Europe and 6 months in South Africa at the Cape I had no limitation in latitude to view astronomical objects.

After several years of sky watching and visual observation I finally decided to extend pure observation by entering the world of digital astro-photography with a Nikon Coolpix camera and then with a Canon EOS 20D DSLR. Also my camera park has grown in the meantime, since the appetite comes often with the eating.

During this time I got caught by the phantastic possibilty of observing through the camera the overwhelming beauty of extended objects like nebulae, star clusters and galaxies in color. The wonderful astro-photographs of Rob Gendler, Steve Cannistra and Stefan Seip, to name only a few, triggered me to also try to image the aesthetics  of these deep sky objects and plug them from the night sky onto computer displays. Asking me why I do this, although all these objects have been photographed in high quality before, is like asking a mountaineer why he is climbing a high mountain though others have been up there before.

I am still learning  about the challenging technology and art of astrophotography, but every time I see a colored image coming up after digitally developing a series of frames I feel all the excitement and anxiousness of discovery and then deep content of success.

I do not want to forget to thank Rudolf Idler and Peter Schuster from Fernrohrland in Fellbach for their expert advice and their patience in providing to a novice the tools for his adventure.