Georgian astrophotographers to establish new observatory in Bazaleti
23 January, 2017
Georgian astrophotographers to establish new observatory in Bazaleti
A famous team of Georgian astrophotographers known as Geo-Astro have announced that soon a new observatory will be built at Bazaleti Lake. Georgian Journal contacted Levan Verdzeuli, one of the members of Geo-Astro, to uncover more details about observatory and the team’s functioning.

-How Geo-Astro was formed and how it operates?

Geo-Astro has been functioning as a group for 2 years already, but before that, the first Georgian astrophotographer David Dvali had been working alone for a year and was making his first steps in this field. It was with his motivation and wish that this group was created. It is interesting that among the 10 members of Geo-Astro, there are no professional astro-photographers or astronomers. We were only united by the common interest towards outer space. The works of several members of our group have achieved international recognition (AAPOD - Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day, EAPOD - European Astronomy Picture of the Day, Photo of the Day, etc.) and this is the result of our two-year work.
Levan Verdzeuli on the left and Davit Dvali on the right

As for our new goal, we are planning to establish a new observatory at Bazaleti. Currently the project is in the process of designing and planning.The Bazaleti observatory will become the main base of our team and it will serve as an educational center as well. In this way we will avoid the tiring and time-consuming process of assembling and disassembling our technology at every shooting. After the observatory will be completed, it will host many public events and anyone will be able to observe how Geo-Astro functions.
Geo-Astro team
Bazaleti Lake by Levan Verdzeuli

-How would you explain and describe astrophotography? What are the main obstacles astrophotographers face when working in this field?

Astrophotography is a specialized type of photography for recording images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky, like galaxies, nebulas, constellations, planets and so on. Apart from cameras, we also use special stands and lenses/telescopes. This is not as easy as it may sound because we have lots of difficulties. In fact, astrophotography is nothing but solving these difficulties and problems. Unlike the daytime photography, when you need less than a second to take a photo, astrophotography is taking several minutes, hours or even days to process
one image. This is because the majority of the space objects mentioned above are extremely dark and in order to gather all the light that comes from them, so that they are detectable for a human eye and the equipment, you need more time.

Apart from time, there are other problems related to astrophotography, such as: dark sky (remote places for shooting), polluted atmosphere and light (smog, dust, air turbulence, wind, outdoor lightning), technical problems (optical blemishes) and ,most importantly, chasing (observing) astronomical objects in the sky and inaccuracies related to it due to world turning around. Moreover, there was a case when wolves became another problem for us and we had to run from the shooting space.
-When were you attracted by astrophotography and how did you acquire this profession?

-I started shooting night sky earlier than taking photos of deep space itself. Later I saw the images by Davit Dvali in Georgian publication of National Geographic. Before that I could not even imagine if someone in Georgia was involved in this filed and taking such photos. Soon few people gathered around Dato and formed a team. Acquiring this field of photography and becoming an astrophotographer is a quite time-consuming process that also needs great energy and patience. Dato was helping and teaching us everything from the beginning. Thanks to his technology and astro camera we all acquired this profession. At present I am glad that I already have my own telescope and camera stand.
Night sky over Kazbegi by Davit Dvali

-What perspective does astrophotography have in Georgia? Does public in the country express interest toward this sphere?

-We receive many messages on our Facebook page, correspondingly we assume that the interest is quite big in Georgia. Also, we often organize public meetings for the people interested in this field and try to answer their questions. Generally, our core aim is to promote this field in the country. We think that Georgia is a good and proper place for astrophotography. It is important, that there are quite a few places close to Tbilisi that serve as a good location for taking astronomical photos.

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