Q1: Firstly, congratulation that your nice image won #ASIWEEK. Can you introduce yourself to us?

Thank you for choosing me for ASIWEEK. My name is Ken Yasue (安江 健). I am of mixed Croatian and Japanese descent and currently living in Croatia, Europe. I grew up in Japan, majored in physics at the University of Tokyo, and about 2004. I moved to Croatia with my wife. I currently work in the IT industry and my NO.1 hobby is astrophotography.

1 Me and my astro friends

Me, third from the left, and my astro friends.

Q2: Why do you love astronomy? What does it mean to you?

I have been amazed by space ever since my parents bought me my first telescope when I was 10 years old. I do remember asking for it myself. It all started with me reading some books about science in general and from then on, I was hooked. It piqued the interest of a 10-year-old me and it never stopped.

2 Dreyer's Nebula - IC447

Dreyer’s Nebula – IC447 in Monoceros – Rasa 8 – EQ6-R – ASI294MC Pro – 60s x 499 – Bortle 4, 2022.

Q3: When did you start astrophotography? What was your feeling when you first saw the image showing on the screen?

I started in 2018. My first setup was Star Adventurer and my Pentax KP DSLR. Of course, in the beginning, I was impressed by everything so that I managed to take from stars, nebulae, galaxies etc (aren’t we all?). Although I was not good at processing them, I was extremely happy and wanted to show my photos to everyone.

3 M31 The Andromeda Galaxy
M31 The Andromeda Galaxy – Pentax KP – Star Adventurer – Pentax-da 55-300mm – 40s x 50 – Bortle 7, 2018.

Q4: What gear do you use for astrophotography? Any pictures of them?

I have three setups but my main is Celestron RASA8, ASI294MC Pro, SW EQ6-R, ASIAIR PRO and ASI120MM Mini for guiding. My second in command is Sky-Watcher Esprit 100ED, ASI294MC Pro, SW HEQ5, ASIAIR PRO and ASI120MM Mini for guiding. My third in command is…. okay I’ll stop here because it’ll never end. 🙂
RASA is a fantastic telescope and it really pushed my astro photos to another level. Everybody who owns RASA knows how hard it is to make it work properly, but when you get a hang of it, the results just blow you away. If I may add that the ASIAIR is also one of those things that makes the process of obtaining data much easier and more stable than the PC environment. Now I can relax, open my beer and enjoy the imaging session in a warmer place.

4 My gear
Left are RASA 8 and SW EQ6-R, Right are Esprit 100ED and SW HEQ5 – Both ASI294MC Pro, ASIAIR PRO, ASI120MM Mini

Q5: Your ASIWEEK image “NGC1990 and around” was wonderful! How did you capture it?

About 2 years ago I noticed an interesting shape of a reflection nebula on one of my wide field photos of the Orion constellation. Due to the close proximity to the famous Horse head and Flame nebula, it usually does not get any attention. So when I had enough experience with my RASA8, I set the target. To my surprise, the result was amazing. For once it’s nice to see Alnilam and Mintaka in the frame. 🙂 It was January, it was cold and I was alone in Podgaric, Croatia for two nights in a row, beneath the Bortle 3 sky. I’ve managed to catch 7 hours of data and as they say, the rest is history. 🙂

5 NGC 1990 ASIWEEK winning image

NGC 1990 – RASA8 – EQ6-R – ASI294MC Pro – 60s x 396 – Bortle 3, 2022.

Q6: What do you think is the most difficult part of DSO imaging? What do you think is the exciting or fulfilling part of DSO imaging?

Well, there are many shades of difficulties in astro photography and every astro photographer knows that when you begin the climb for excellence. For me, the most struggling part is the weather. As I got better at creating astro images, I have more and more expectations. Therefore, I have to have more numbers of exposures. So, I need more clear skies. For the exciting part, I tend to take wide field photos with my Samyang 135mm lens and after stacking, I look for interesting parts to target with my RASA or Esprit telescope. The winning ASIWEEK image of NGC1990 was made that way.

6 Horse Head nebula

Horse Head nebula – Esprit 100 ED – ASI294MC Pro – HEQ5 Mount – 300s x 80 – Bortle 4, 2021.

Q7: What do you want to say to yourself when you started getting into astrophotography if you have a chance to do it now? Why?

I would probably say ‘Just go for it!’. This hobby brought me a whole new world of possibilities, new great friends and it really made my life more fun and interesting.

7 Constellation Cepheus
Constellation Cepheus Widefield – Sigma Art 50mm – Canon 60D – AZGTi Mount – 180s x 259 – Bortle 4, 2021

Q8: Do you often take astrophotos by yourself or will your family or friends join you?

I do both, with my family and with my astro friends. It’s always fun to share stories with my astro buddies, but also sometimes I like to be alone in the dark and silence under the sky full of stars.

8 Witch head nebula
Witch head nebula – Samyang 135mm – Canon 60D – AZGTi Mount – 180s x 159 – Bortle 4, 2022.

Q9: Where do you usually do DSO imaging? If not in the backyard, is there any unforgettable experience you want to share with us when you are outside?

After a few years of sleeping in cars and in the cold, we started to rent a nice lodge with a fireplace under the Bortle 4 sky. Now I use 3 ASIAIR PROs to control my three setups from a warm distance inside the lodge, could it be better?
I do remember one time when it was cloudy for months in Croatia, I went to Hungary (neighbouring country) to some dark site that I found on the map. I drove 3 hours to get there and did my usual setup in the dark. Just after midnight some younger people start to gather nearby doing who knows what. They didn’t bother me, but I was scared indeed. I didn’t understand the language and it’s my first visit to this country but no offense. I packed my bags and left that area as soon as possible.

9 Krivaja Vojnicka, Croatia

Krivaja Vojnicka, Croatia

Q10: Did you ever participate in some astronomy-related events?

Every year in Lika (part of Croatia) we have a Star party where most of the astro imagers gather for three nights and photograph, share and talk space related stuff, you know, every country has one. It’s fun to see people from all over and communicate with them in person and what can be more ecstatic than being with astronomers for three nights under Bortle 1,2 skies, it’s every astro imager’s dream.

10 VDB 152

VDB 152 – RASA8 – ASI294MC Pro – EQ6-R – 60s x 176 – Bortle 2, 2021.

Q11: If you got a chance to reselect a hobby, would you still choose astrophotography? Why? If still astrophotography, what is it that attracts you the most?

As I mentioned before, I have been hooked on space since I was a child. It even influenced me to get a degree in physics and astrophotography is just an extension of that. The most exciting part is that no matter how much I know about space, there is always something new and interesting to learn. Just the other day I learned about galactic halo from my own photo of M63, that’s just crazy how much stuff is out there. I hope I’ll manage to transfer this hobby to my next life, that’s how much I love doing this.

11 M63 & Galactic halo

M63 & Galactic halo – RASA8 – EQ6-R – ASI294MC Pro – 60s x 420 – Bortle 3, 2022.

Q12: Please ask yourself a question like we did above and answer it too.

Question: What is your favorite astrophoto?

This photo is one of my favorite photos. The reason behind is that I’ve tried to take images of the Cocoon nebula two times before and I was really unhappy with the results. When Esprit 100ED came to my family, I had to try it one last time and it was great success. When I saw those molecular clouds of dust I was beyond happy. It’s not the best processed image, but after so much struggling, it became my most favourite.

12 Cocoon nebula

Cocoon nebula – Esprit 100ED – ASI294MC Pro – HEQ5 – 300s x 72 – Bortle 4, 2020.

Q13: Last one. What’s your impression of ZWO? Do you have any suggestions or feedback to us? Please feel free to say.

My first and still the main camera is ASI294MC Pro. I have no doubt that this is one of the best astro cameras when it comes to quality and price, best buy for sure. I did have some minor troubles and the user support was so great that I ended up buying my second ASI294MC Pro camera.
The game changer was ASIAIR, it really overrides complications with software and drivers, so you can focus on imaging without any hassle. My sincere recommendation is to use ASIAIR PRO/Plus as soon as possible, you’ll thank me later. 😉 I have a feeling that people from ZWO really love astrophotography and the results are a large variety of great astro products.

13 My 3 setups

My 3 setups, 2022.

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