Ad Astra Per Aspera: A rough road leads to the stars

Ad Astra Per Aspera: A rough road leads to the stars

by Kara Marcus

I have been a photographer for going on 15 years. My niche for the majority of that time was landscapes and portraiture until, about 6 years ago, I got interested in shooting the night sky (as many landscape photographers do).

My first year of shooting the Milky Way under dark skies only made me crave a deeper view of the heavens, and I told my husband that I would really love to get in to deep space astrophotography (with the idea in the back of my mind that that would likely never happen). The expense of deep space astrophotography is a steep one, not to mention the technical aspects that I knew absolutely nothing about. I used to drag my husband to some dark locations to shoot the Milky Way and admire the heavens.

I guess the experience sparked something in him and he began researching to see how it all worked, and what it would entail to achieve some deep space imagery ourselves. About 2 years ago, he surprised me with a high quality telephoto lens, and we got a small sky tracker to see how the science behind this field of photography actually worked. It wasn’t long before he was saying that our gear was inferior and that if we really wanted to achieve an impressive view of space, we were going to need to invest in a telescope and beefy tracking mount to get the job done. 2 years and 3 telescopes later, we are finally seeing what we always believed was “out there.”

It’s one thing to admire an image of nebulae and galaxies from NASA or other photographers, but it is a totally different experience to capture these amazing celestial targets with our own equipment. My husband and I have lived a relatively simple life. We don’t have children (for a variety of reasons), and remain living in a small townhome community that has kept our finances reasonable and allowed us to invest in our literal windows into space. He told me recently that within 10 years, he would like to have a small property under a dark sky where we could build an observatory and really take our shared hobby to the next level. Until then, we will continue to set up our gear on our front patio in Colorado Springs, and point our telescopes to the heavens together.

This has absolutely been a team effort all the way, and I know from the bottom of my heart that I would have never been able to shoot these images without his instruction, his guidance, his patience, and his desire to learn it for himself as well. 4 of the images I’m sharing hold my “Marcus Photography” watermark, but the fifth one I labeled “Miles&Miles Photography” as this one directly shows our teamwork. For that particular image, my husband captured all the data, and he let me edit it to my heart’s desire. We have come an extraordinarily long way in the last year, and we certainly have a long way to go, but I hope you enjoy the imagery our efforts have resulted in, and I encourage each and every one of you who reads this to take the time, sit under the stars, let your imagination wander, and be reminded of your unique place in this grand universe! Blessings and clear skies!

See for more of Kara’s works!