FLOWOOD, Miss. (WJTV) – On these cold nights when most of us head inside, a friend of mine heads outside, but there is a good reason for that.
Jerry Bowen’s hobby is astronomy. The lure of deep space that pulls him away from a cozy fire indoors to his telescope set up outside.
I’ve known Jerry since we were in high school together back on Greenville, but this astronomy side of Jerry is something relatively new. He says it all started only about 20 years ago when he went outside one night and looked up.
“I saw some bright object in the back yard, and I said, ‘I wonder what that was.’ So, I got my spotting scope I used for target practice, and I found the object, and it was Saturn. So, I said, ‘If I can tell and see the rings around Saturn with this, what can I do with a real telescope?'” he questioned.
That Christmas was the first of no doubt many Christmases that Santa brought telescopes and mounts and computers and cameras until todaym when Jerry concentrates on shooting photographs like this, of deep space objects right from his back yard in Flowood.
It’s a complicated ordeal of long exposures and then multiple exposures, 20 to 50 pictures all stacked together in a computer and color corrected and light corrected.
“I can tell you when you look through a telescope and you look at say, ‘the Orion Nebula,’ all you see is a white puffy cloud and stars. It’s white, but the camera picks up the colors,” said Jerry.
Jerry is a member of the Jackson Astronomical Association, and like a lot of other organizations, their numbers are dwindling. Young people especially are lacking, so the association has a new Facebook page so we can all go see what they’ve seen and photographed recently.
The association has access to a dark viewing field deep in Hinds County where they meet a couple of times a month and set up their telescopes to see what they can see.
Jerry says all of the software he uses to process his deep space shots and colorize the moon, are all free downloads off the internet. If you were a member of the Jackson Astronomical Association, you can ask Jerry what all of it is at the next viewing.