“We are very fortunate to live in the age of advanced technologies. With the help of modern equipment, we can look deep into the sky and see different objects that could not be seen even by emperors and kings in the past.”

Turkish expatriate Kurt Bozkurt enjoys the feelings of watching astronomical objects, celestial events and areas of the night sky through his telescope and captures the images with his camera. His interest in astronomy began when he saw first comet in the sky and continues pursuing his hobby of astrophotography till to day.

Bozkurt has been working as an engineer in Qatar for 10 years. In his recent interview with Gulf Times, he dilated upon how he started the astrophotography and how well he enjoys it by being in Qatar. “My interest in astronomy started in 1986 when I first time saw a comet in the sky. I was a little kid. It was in news those days. It caught my attention and since then I have not been able to look down as I have been looking up in the skies.”

The Turkish engineer has worked in different countries before getting settled in Qatar in 2010. He has been carrying along his hobby of general photography and astrophotography. “I have worked in Albania and then in Libya before I came to Qatar. I did some basic astrophotography in Albania. Being in Qatar has actually helped me in becoming a professional in astrophotography. I started with general photography here. I started buying my astrophotography gear in Qatar.”

The passionate photographer categorises astrophotography into three area – wide fields and terrestrial photography, solar systems, and deep sky. “In the wide field category, we can combine an earthly object – a building or tree – with the sky in the background. This kind of photography is easy and affordable to do. In the second category, we can capture solar system objects. It can also include International Space Station that is trackable. The deep sky astrophotography is the most demanding, time-taking and expensive category. I would like to call it an antisocial hobby. I go out in the open late in the night to capture good deep sky objects that include galaxies, nebulas, and other celestial events.”

A close up of Andromeda Galaxy

The professional engineer finds high degree of pleasure and satisfaction by capturing deep sky objects. “Astrophotography is an expensive hobby. There are many people around the world trying to capture same object again and again. For me, I enjoy the effort and the final outcome. It is a challenge. Everything during a shooting session should go right. If anything goes wrong, you will lose that night. When everything goes according to your plan and you get a good photo, it gives you immense amount of satisfaction. I usually go out with friends but there are times when I am alone in desert at all night with my car and camera. I avoid the nigh with full moon or having strong winds.”

Kurt considers himself lucky to be doing astrophotography in Qatar. “The country is best poised for this kind of photography. It has clear skies most of the time. This is something that the richest people doing astrophotography cannot have in their countries in Europe or America. I know many people in the West who have to travel for hours to get a clear sky shot into the cosmos. A Greek photographer travelled to Qatar in December 2019 to capture the solar eclipse and his image was declared the best photograph by NASA.”

Elephant's Trunk Nebula

The Turk suggests that with little steps to encourage the astrophotography Qatar can become a hub for this activity for photographers from all over the world. “We need to have some designated areas for the photographers with telescopes and large cameras. When I go out in the open area I do not know whether I am trespassing someone’s land or entering a restricted area. The authorities may allocate some small area far away from the light pollution of the bright urban localities. It can be some kind of small observatory. Such facility can also help improve tourism in Qatar.”

Kurt enjoys the deep sky photography the most because with telescope one can see the far off objects that cannot be seen with naked eyes. “It is beautiful to see the camera screen full of celestial images. For millions of years, man has been living on Earth but they never saw these objects even the kinds and emperors. In the history, may be only in the last 20 years, man has bene able to see these images.”

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