I’ve been interested in amateur astronomy since I was in elementary school. Having lived only in big cities, however, severely curtailed my astronomy ventures to the occasional stargazing trips to barely dark sites (Bortle 5-6). Recent advances in sensors, fast optics, and narrowband filters had allowed me to attempt imaging in my Bortle 9 backyard in New York City. The results were encouraging, but I could only image for several hours every month between the constraints of time, work commitment, weather, and moon phases. Setup and tear-down of the imaging equipment took as much time as I could gather photons during every session.
DSNM not only provides access to the darkest skies but also the convenience of a permanent setup, ready to go on moment’s notice. Imaging sessions can be planned remotely during the bus commute (through my smartphone!), and I enjoyed more imaging time the first month there than in my previous year at home. My equipment gets used every clear, moonless night as opposed to spending most of its time in the house. I’m still very much a novice in image processing but DSNM makes data collection fun and easy.