About

Welcome to AstroDrudis.com.

I am Josep Drudis, come from a Catalan-Spanish family, hold a MSc in Chemistry, a PhD in Chemistry (both at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain) and a MSc in Astronomy (Swinburne University of Technology). I started my professional career working in several managerial positions in R&D and industrial production positions. Then moved to General Management and after a 20 year long career as Managing Director in several companies, I retired a few years ago, with the intention of devoting my free time to my three passions: my family, astrophotography and general photography. This web page deals with the two latter ones.
Astronomy has been one of my passions since I was 18. I soon got binoculars and bought my first telescope, my “Old Reliable” orange C8, when I was 30. Right after that I started taking pictures with it… never stopped… I love imaging deep-sky objects, but also eclipses, comets…
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Beginning 2014, my wife got a new position in her job, but she had to move to Philadelphia, PA, USA. Mid July 2014, we came from Barcelona to Philly and here we are!! We all, including our kids, feel happy here. This means that English is not my mother tongue and you will notice it. I apologize for not always writing it correctly. I will try to do my best.

 

Astrophotography

I started taking images of the sky around 1982. I am tempted to include my first one (M31, the Andromeda Galaxy) as if it was a Museum piece… I confess that I own the largest collection of “Worst Ever” pictures of deep sky objects that there is on Earth, but they all helped me to try to improve them. I started using B&W film (the legendary Kodak TriX, later dubbed TMax400) and developing the film and prints at home. From those epic beginnings, and crossing over a DSLR, a one-shot-color CCD camera and a wonderful FLI 6303E (which I used with a C11 HD), I tried to image with remote telescopes, what brought a perfect complement to my C11-6303E equipment. This allowed me to pursue challenging imaging projects, like the one you will find in the “Ultra Deep Sky” tab.

 

One special good step forward was to become member of the Agrupació Astronòmica de Sabadell, an Astronomy club with about 1,000 members. I worked together with many members of the staff and the Astrophotography Group and learned a lot with all of them. I keep very good friends there.

 

But, when I came to Philadelphia, I wanted to get more serious in astrophotography (I still have to learn a lot, but I keep on trying hard…) and 2015 brought two crucial keystones towards this goal: In May, Don Goldman, a renowned top astrophotographer (more than 25 APODs in his bag…), chose me as partner for his wonderful scope, which is located at the Siding Spring Observatory, Australia (iTelescope.net). Now we share the telescope time 50/50, but we share our data as well. I am learning a lot and imaging frantically. There are 16 hours time difference with Australia (during our Winter, 14 during our Summer), what means that I can keep an eye on nearly all imaging hours of this scope. This allows me to optimize the imaging time and it is very rare that I miss any minute, provided the sky is clear, of course. This telescope is a CDK 20″, equipped with a SBIG STX 16803 and, understandably, a great deal of Astrodon filters.

 

The second keystone was to be able to attend (in October) one of Adam Block‘s processing workshops in the Sky Center Observatory atop Mount Lemmon, AZ. Adam is not only one of the top astrophotographers (more than 70 APODs) but an excellent communicator. His workshop changed my way of processing and I am still reprocessing many (most!!) of my old images with his method… There I got from him the raw files of six objects that had been captured with the Schulman telescope, and that I have processed with his method (with his authorization). They are conveniently labeled in the Gallery. They are M1, M27, M77, NGC 5216, NGC 4438 and NGC 6914. All of them taken with the Schulman Telescope, a 32″ f/7 scope, equipped with a SBIG 16803 camera.

 

In the Gallery, you will notice that I have classified the Nebulae into four categories: Planetary Nebulae (one of the last phases of the evolution of medium-sized stars), Emission/Reflection/Dark Nebulae (this category involves most of the nebulae), SNR (Supernova remnants, an interesting and esthetically very appealing category) as well as the “Italian Series”. This is not a “category” in itself, but a subset of the Emission Nebulae. The images you will find in that place, belong to emission nebulae and have been imaged only with two narrowband filters: Hydrogen alpha and Oxygen III. They have been, invariably, processed assigning Ha to Red and OIII to Green and Blue. This combination is  one that renders “natural” color to narrowband images, although somewhat enhanced. The fact that they provide images where Reds, Whites and bluish-Greens dominate, has been the reason to call them the “Italian Series”.

 

Another “special” category is the “Ultra Deep Sky” images. This comprises a full set of extremely far away objects, namely quasars or very high red-shift galaxies. This project has been done partially (the most interesting part…) together with a German-Canadian (or Canadian-German) astronomer and photographer and a good friend of mine, Christian Sasse.

 

You will also find a “Messier” and a “Caldwell” collection. They are, mostly, included as reference for images. Many of the images have been taken with less powerful telescopes or elementary cameras and these objects will only appear in this window, not in their natural categories (Galaxies, Nebulae, Clusters). Only the images that show enough quality will also appear in their categories. The Messier Catalog has been imaged in its entirety (not all images have been processed yet and they will be progressively incorporated, stay tuned!). The Caldwell Catalog has not been (and will not be) imaged completely, but it lists many excellent objects and I will include all pictures that I have taken and will be adding the new images as I keep on reprocessing and imaging.

 

Acknowledgements

I am extremely grateful to Olga, my wife who, permanently, encouraged me to pursue my dream. Thanks to her patience, understanding and untiring encouragement, I have been able to undertake new challenges that have largely fulfilled my craziest dreams.

 

I also want to thank three astronomers that have significantly contributed to important leaps in my skills and understanding of the Universe. They are: Don Goldman, for being willing to share his Australian scope time with me and for transmitting me the “virus” of narrowband imaging. Also Adam Block, who opened my eyes to a better image processing and Christian Sasse, who very patiently shared with me the “High Redshift Galaxies” project.

 

Please, feel free to contact me at astrodrudis@gmail.com.

Enjoy!

 

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