In my experience, almost everyone reacts to a good astro photograph with something like "Wow!". After this initial reaction there are a lot of different reasons that people are moved by these images. The contrast and rich colors are visually stunning, of course, but most people seem to react with the kind of emotion that matches the vast, enigmatic nature of deep space. A common misconception is that these objects are "unknown" to most people because they are so small that only "high power" telescope enables us to see them. In reality, none of my images (to date) are at very high magnification - most of these objects cover a larger area (in angular measure) than the Moon does. But most people have not seen them because they are too dim to be seen with the naked eye. Even people who have observed these objects through a telescope are generally surprised at the detail and color of an astro photo.
What makes astro-photography so difficult is that it requires long exposures at some magnification, making it very sensitive to any motion or vibration. Unfortunately, because Earth is spinning around at 15 degrees per hour, everything out there is in motion relative to an Earth-bound observer. The solution is to use what is called an equatorial mount that can be aligned to Earth's axis of rotation and then slowly driven by a motor to correct for the rotation. The accuracy and stability of this mount is actually more important to astro photography than the quality of the telescope or camera.
Many of the objects in these photographs are members of the "Messier" catalog of objects that are relatively easy to see. They are identified as "M" followed by a number between 1 and 110. Most of them also have common names. Other catalogs of astronomical objects include "IC" and "NGC"
Many of the images included here were captured at "Wa'chur'ed Observatory", in my backyard. The name derives from the fact that the door to the observatory is 5 feet high, just enough to make you think that you can go through without ducking, but no!
This section is divided into 5 sub-groups by the type of target: