Egyptian Astro photographer, Wael Omar, recently achieved an extraordinary feat by completing a month-long project to capture a lunar analemma, a complex figure-eight pattern traced by a celestial body in the sky over time.
While analemmas are often associated with the Sun, they can also be created for other celestial entities, although they are notoriously challenging and time-consuming endeavors. What sets Wael’s achievement apart is that this is the first lunar analemma captured by an Egyptian Astro photographer, and the first on the African continent as well.
To capture the Moon correctly, Omar needed to research its position and then return each day, 50 minutes later than the last, to take his photograph. Not only did this require Omar to take time off from work, but he also had many sleepless nights waiting for the right time to capture the ideal image.
Yet, Omar’s ambition extended beyond merely capturing images of the Moon. He wanted to create an even more memorable image by incorporating an intriguing element in the foreground. For this, he chose the iconic pyramids of Egypt; in the process dispelling the myth that pyramids are only found in the desert. However, this came with more challenges. He needed an optimal angle for photographing the pyramids and had to obtain permission to climb a 165-foot minaret for the perfect vantage point.
“I feel so proud of my achievement, because a lunar analemma has never been captured before in Egypt, or on the African continent. I was so happy to be the first person in this region to image it, and it motivates me to achieve much more,” he says. When he shared this masterpiece on social media, the response was electrifying. People from all corners of the globe marveled at the image, with everyone eager for Omar to reveal the secrets behind this mesmerizing image.
Stargazing During Lockdown: A Cosmic Exploration
Omar’s journey began during the COVID-19 lockdown. As the pandemic stifled human activity, it gifted the skies with an unprecedented clarity that beckoned him to explore the cosmic canvas above. Omar reminisces about those early days, saying, “I was staring at the sky from my rooftop, and it was so clear; maybe because there were no operating factories or companies, and no activities in general during lockdown. It was during this time that I decided to seize the opportunity to start shooting the sky and the Moon.”
What started as a lockdown hobby three years ago has evolved into a passionate pursuit of celestial artistry. Guided by online tutorials and YouTube videos, Omar has honed his skills to capture breathtaking images of nebulae, galaxies, and other astronomical phenomena, gaining recognition not only on social media, but in publications worldwide. He proudly shares his nomination as ‘Astrobin image of the day “on the renowned AstroBin website, making him the first Egyptian to achieve this honor. Additionally, his work has been published in magazines such as PetaPixel, Astronomy Magazine, and BBC Sky at Night Magazine, providing both exposure and modest compensation.
To stay connected with the ever-evolving field of astronomy, Omar relies on applications, media, websites, and the internet. He keeps a close eye on upcoming celestial events and plans his imaging sessions accordingly. Being aware of the phases of the Moon and other astronomical events helps him decide the best times for his astrophotography.
Astrophotography and a Thriving Career: Omar’s Balancing Act
While Omar passionately pursues his astrophotography dreams, he also manages a demanding career as a chemist in the oil and gas industry. Striking the balance between the demands of his profession and his cosmic aspirations is a familiar challenge faced by many amateur photographers. For Omar, astrophotography remains a labor of love, requiring both time and financial investment. His wife’s unwavering support and active participation in his cosmic ventures resonate deeply with him.
Omar candidly shares the formidable challenges he faces in his astrophotography journey. The high cost of equipment, uncertain weather conditions, and the substantial time investment stand as obstacles. “I look at the weather forecast and if the sky isn’t clear, I move to another location, which may be hundreds of kilometers from my home. Sometimes, I drive for five hours until I find a clear sky to shoot the most amazing images.”
Omar has ambitious plans that are largely community-driven. He wants to share his knowledge through YouTube videos, workshops, and courses, especially catering to Arabic-speaking audiences, where information on astrophotography is scarce. As he navigates the challenges and triumphs of astrophotography, Omar’s odyssey leads him to new horizons, forging connections between the earthly and the celestial. It’s a journey that not only illuminates the night sky but sparks the imagination to explore the mysteries of the universe.
Find out the best camera settings and equipment for astrophotography and discover top techniques for shooting stars at night, including time-lapses and star-trail images here- https://en.canon-cna.com/get-inspired/tips-and-techniques/night-sky-photography-tips/