PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence high schooler has created an out-of-this-world photo collection from here in the capital city, and his astrophotography skills came into focus during the pandemic.
April is International Astronomy Month, a way to encourage people to look up at the night sky.
“I’m really interested in space, and what’s out there, but also combining it with the photography aspects. Sharing my photos. It’s great to incorporate the art aspect into it, too,” said Griffin Haisman, a sophomore at the Wheeler School.
He’s been taking pictures of places that are far away for a few years now.
“I really got started with more of the photography at the end of 7th grade, just as the pandemic was starting,” Haisman told 12 News Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo on a cold night with clear skies in Providence in late February.
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Distance learning and being stuck at home gave Haisman a lot of time to figure things out.
“I started with the moon. It was alright. It was a bit out of focus, but it was a start,” Haisman said.
To get the picture of that Supermoon in May of 2020, Haisman borrowed his mother’s camera. In the months that followed, he got better equipment and his skills improved. With tips from other astrophotographers around the world, his knowledge expanded.
“It’s already a pretty niche hobby. Kids my age? It’s even fewer people,” said Haisman.
Now a sophomore in high school, his work rivals professionals. He thinks he’d still be interested in the hobby, but didn’t think he’d gotten nearly as far.
He’s captured galaxies, comets and the moon through this telescope, but his favorite is a nebula, clouds of dust and gas where stars are born.
“I do it all from here in Providence, at home,” Haisman said.
With special filters, he cuts through the city’s light pollution and brings objects millions of light years away into focus on his computer, but he has to take a lot of pictures. For one moon picture, he took 100,000 pictures.
All the pictures need to be stacked, or digitally placed on top of each other to get better details of distant objects.
It’s a lot of work, but the rewards are infinite.
“I think one of the more interesting things to think about when I’m photographing these things is how long ago I’m actually seeing. These things are so far away that it takes a long time for the light to reach us. So what we’re seeing is many, many years in the past — millions and even billions of years in the past,” Haisman said.
He’s one kid in a vast cosmos of planets, stars and galaxies, capturing pieces of the universe to share with others.
“It’s great to see more kids my age getting into it now. I think it’s great that I’m able to give back. I’ve learned so much and now I get to teach other people,” Haisman said.
He said he probably will want to get into astronomy as a profession, but not sure if will be astrophotography.