DSLR Widefield Milky Way Photography Workshop (and free optional Messier Marathon!)

March 25th, 2017 

Have you ever wanted to learn how to use your DSLR camera to photograph the beautiful & vast universe that surrounds us? Join the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter and award-winning professional photographer Sean Parker ( at the summit of Mount Lemmon for an introductory workshop where you will learn how to photograph the night sky above and create stunning Milky Way and star-trail compositions that will leave you and your friends breathless. You will learn many techniques, tips and tricks to take your night sky photography to the next level. 

Participants will learn how to photograph the contrast of our dark sky and the beautiful stars above, and will receive instruction in beautiful star-trail and Milky Way compositions. By learning from one of the best in this field, no other workshops in the greater area compares to the quality and excitement you will gain from this night sky photography course. To guarantee quality instruction & shooting, the group size will be limited to 8, in order that you will have full attention throughout the night.

What will you learn?

·        How to prepare for your shoot.

·        Camera & lens overview.

·        Camera exposure settings for optimal imagery.

·        How to focus your lens at night.

·        How to photograph the milky way, capture star trails, long exposures, and light painting.

·        Special tips and techniques.

·        Advanced camera techniques for focus and exposure blending.

·        Introductory post-processing techniques using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop


What is the workshop schedule (approximate)?

2:00 PM         Arrive at SkyCenter and check into dorms

2:30 PM         General overview of workshop and introduction to techniques

3:45 PM         Break and change into warm clothes

4:15 PM         Participate in the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter’s Sky Nights program (includes dinner)

9:15 PM         SkyNights concludes

9:30 PM         Optional telescope viewing of Messier Objects as part of Messier Marathon

11:00 PM       Convene for Star Trail photography and instruction

2:00 AM         Convene for Milky Way photography and instruction

5:00 AM         Dorms!

11:30 AM       Brunch and post-processing instruction

1:30 PM         Workshop concludes


What is the cost and what is included?

The cost of the workshop is all-inclusive (except personal equipment noted below) and is $650 per person.  Included in your registration are all instruction, dormitory lodging, food (dinner, snacks and brunch), participation in the SkyNights observing program, and optional telescopic viewing throughout the night as part of the weekends “Messier Marathon.”  For information on SkyNights and the Messier Marathon, see below.

What personal equipment will you need?

·        A DSLR Camera that can perform in Manual (M) Mode and user manual.

·        At least 2 fully charged camera batteries and 16GBs of memory card storage.

·        A WIDE angle lens that is at least 24mm with an aperture of f/2.8 or faster is recommended but not required. Lens Rental is               available through if necessary. Students get 20% off the rental!

·        Shutter Release or Intervalometer

·        Tripod

·        Warm clothes.

·        Laptop for post-processing, including Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop, Starstax


What is SkyNights?

SkyNights is the SkyCenter’s renowned nightly observing program, and your participation is included in your registration.  SkyNights runs approximately 5 hours and includes dinner.  This popular after-dark program takes advantage of the unique capabilities of the SkyCenter for experiencing the heavens. Learn the constellations, observe sunset and other interesting atmospheric phenomena, and view the wonders of the cosmos from a high-quality astronomical site using the outstanding  32-inch Schulman Telescope…Arizona’s largest dedicated public viewing telescope!


What is the Messier Marathon?

A Messier marathon is an attempt to find as many Messier objects as possible during one night. The Messier catalogue was compiled by French astronomer Charles Messier during the late 18th century and consists of 110 relatively bright deep sky objects (galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters).  At northern latitudes, it is possible to observe all Messier objects in one night during a window of a few weeks from mid-March to early April. In that period the dark nights around the time of the new moon are best for a Messier marathon.

While participation in the DSLR workshop will prevent you from observing all the Messier objects throughout the night, you have the option, at your convenience, to join with others at the observatory who will be observing them.