Updated: Jun 7
Written from Dalia's point of view
The beginning of Galactic Hunter started with an enormous desire to see what could not be seen from our front door. This is our story, from the very beginning! We will update this post every time something major happens for Galactic Hunter.
I - SEPT 2015 | POINT & SHOOT CAMERA + BINOCULARS
II - OCT 2015 | OUR FIRST DSLR CAMERA
III - DEC 2015 | TIME TO TRACK THE SKY!
IV - JAN 2016 | THE BIG PURCHASE
V - MAY 2017 | THE BIRTH OF GALACTIC HUNTER
VI - NOV 2016 | OUR FIRST FEATURE ON A MAGAZINE
VII - DEC 2017 | PUBLISHING OUR FIRST BOOK
VIII - DEC 2018 | INVITED BY NASA AND SPACEX ROCKET LAUNCH IN FLORIDA
IX - JAN 2019 | OUR FIRST EQUIPMENT UPGRADE
X - MAR 2019 | PARTNERSHIP WITH OPT
XI - JUNE 2020 | MY ASTRO JOURNAL
XII - MARCH 2021 | THE GALACTIC COURSE
XIII - JANUARY-MARCH 2022 | THE CHARLES MESSIER GRAVE PROJECT
XIV - FEBRUARY 2022 | FINDING STELLA THE DOG
I - Sept 2015 | Point & Shoot Camera + Binoculars
A chilly night in September of 2015 was the first night both Antoine and I set off to a dry lake just outside of the city. This was also the first time that I had ever seen the Milky Way in my life. It was incredible to say the least and my head was spinning with all the freckles of light scattered across the sky.
Armed with a pair of 20x80 binoculars, Antoine used his memory to get familiar with the constellations and find the Andromeda Galaxy. He shared the binoculars with me, and although I couldn’t see the greyish blur that was Andromeda, we left with a souvenir picture of the Pleiades. This was the first night we went out together stargazing, and it was also this night that the seed of what would become Galactic Hunter began to sprout.
The result of that first night - Crop on M45 using our small Canon Powershoot camera
Often, Antoine went off alone to stargaze because observing these celestial objects was something he could never get enough of. It was as if he needed to capture them somehow, and soon our binoculars and small digital camera were not enough to satisfy what he felt he could accomplish. We did use these handy binoculars a lot though, most often to observe the Moon. It is really surprising how much detail you can see in the craters of our satellite with just a pair of good binoculars. This is also how we got our first "proud" photo of it. We used our Canon point and shoot camera through the binoculars and we got the image you see below! We were very proud at the time and although there is some blur around the top right, this is still one of our favorite pictures of the Moon we have taken.
The Moon taken with Orion 20x80 binoculars and a small Point & Shoot camera
II - Oct 2015 | Our First DSLR Camera
In October of 2015, we bought our very first DSLR camera on Ebay for a really cheap price. Then, the practicing commenced!
Although the moon was rising when we received it, we set off to the desert anyway because the suspense was just too much. With the Canon T3i and Antoine’s careful guiding, I was finally able to see the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time. Amazing.
Our first photo of the Milky Way, popping up on our camera screen gave us chills, even though we had no idea how to focus it right...
We found ourselves in the dark and cold desert every weekend we had free. Our images were not impressive in the way of superior quality. These images were amateur and tended to be blurry or too contrasted in post, but we are proud of them regardless.
Truthfully, we all must to start somewhere and never be ashamed of where we started, because that is just not how progress works.
Our first photo of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way
III - Dec 2015 | Time to Track the Sky!
The new camera required an additional piece of equipment to help us continue tracking deep sky images well into the night. At first, we were not sold on getting a telescope and decided to order a star tracker in the meantime.
The device was easy to use, and really allowed us to get familiar with how polar alignment works. We believe that playing around with this product for a few weeks helped us progress much faster once we got our full Astrophotography setup.
The image to the left is our favorite one taken with the star tracker: The California Nebula and the Pleiades, divided by dark interstellar dust lanes.
...but we progressed rather quickly and desired bigger and better equipment that would yield greater images in the long term.
IV - Jan 2016 | The Big Purchase
Although we were grateful to have used the star tracker as an alternative before taking the dive and buying our first telescope, we were extremely excited to make the purchase!
Once we received the equipment, we thought it might be fun to create an unboxing video for other hobbyists since we had help in deciding what to order for our setup. After the video was posted, we were met with kindness and encouragement, which had us seriously consider launching a YouTube channel dedicated to this new hobby. Antoine brought up the idea of creating an informative and educational outlet about capturing deep space objects via images to his brother, and he truly inspired us to go forward with it. This is the reason why we thank him at the end of every episode. (:
With a bit of practice indoors, Antoine and I set off for the first time with our telescope in January of 2016. Of course, there were nights when we came home exhausted or worse, came home empty handed. For example, we left the cap on our guiding scope for the entire night during ou two first imaging sessions... But we persisted because we wanted this venture to work and it was always in our minds as we went back to our faithful spot in the desert.
Our very first attempt at a DSO with a telescope. Click the arrow to see our improvement!
V - May 2016 | The Birth of Galactic Hunter
As we tracked our target throughout the night, we would film ourselves and what we were doing, and explain in it in the moment. Truth be told, it was somewhat boring at times because the material was very dry for beginners... However, being an extraordinary editor, Antoine gave life to a heavily informative subject AND made it fun.
The Messier Catalog was the first part to this idea, and it would be (and still is) our personal goal to capture all 110 objects and fill the catalog with our own images! In doing so, we thought of creating special episodes for popular Messier objects, and that it would be a great pairing for knowledge, as well as being a tutorial for others along with the added spice of The Grelins.
By May of 2016, we completed and debuted our first episode of Galactic Hunter, M101 the Pinwheel Galaxy. Watch it below!
Ever since our first episode, our thirst for creating content has not ceased! We have grown as brand and as a couple. We love astrophotography. But we will be candid and say that this is not easy. At times, this hobby can be frustrating…
We have practiced setting up our equipment over and over, took time to learn how to use new additions to our setup, rehearsed for videos and forgotten lines repeatedly, and we'll always remember trying to use PixInsight for the first time and following a tutorial video IN SPANISH because at the time, PixInsight tutorial videos were rare on YouTube.
But as I have mentioned frequently about astrophotography, this hobby is a labor of love. We get upset when a whole night is wasted due to uncontrollable forces or accidents by our own fault, but we encourage everyone (and our future selves, HI DALIA AND ANTOINE) to keep progressing by not giving up. We appreciate all the support we receive and enjoy helping our fellow astronomy and astrophotography friends. We will always be out on the field whenever possible to create more memories and fun experiences in this hobby, especially when the nights are perfect for imaging.
VI - Nov 2016 | Our First Feature on a Magazine
November of 2016 is an important month for us, as it is the month where we received an invitation from Orion Telescope & Binoculars to do a short written interview with them and have a few of our images featured on their Winter Catalog! Yes, it is not a "magazine" per se, but it is still cool!
We were thrilled to answer their questions and submit some of our photographs taken using Orion equipment (You can see a full list of our Astrophotoggraphy equipment HERE). A few days later, the interview was up on their website in their community tab (see it HERE), and also printed on the catalog! They were nice enough to send us a few copies so we could brag to our friends and family, as well as a signed letter by Robert Hughes, copywriter at Orion Telescope & Binoculars, thanking us for our time. This being our very first feature, we have framed both the letter and the page from the catalog as a reminder that although we never expected to be featured anywhere when we started astrophotography, hard work and dedication does pay off!
Since then, our images have been featured on several websites and magazines. We usually add where an image is featured at the top of the photo's full page in our gallery. Our ultimate goal is, of course, to have one of our images selected by NASA to be APOD!
VII - Dec 2017 | Publishing Our First Book
During the second half of 2017, most of our time went out writing a book in the hopes that it will be as useful as possible for beginners in the long term. The idea of The Astrophotographer's Guidebook came after making the videos for the 15 best deep sky objects to photograph for each season. We knew that the entire list was already on our website and youtube page, but we wanted to make an in-depth physical copy for people to open while on the field and pick a target!
It is not perfect, and it is obviously aimed to beginners, but we ourselves use the book very often when trying to decide what target to image next, so we hope it is the same for other people!
Our old notebook vs. the one we made
About a month before The Astrophotographer's Guidebook became available, we also published "The Astrophotographer's Journal", an astro-themed notebook allowing people to make notes of each night spent under the stars. We ourselves used a tiny Moleskin notebook to write the memories of our outings until it was full, but we thought that making a dedicated journal with a template on each page was a great idea!
We have a couple of other projects published, you can find more information at the link below:
VIII - Dec 2018 | Invited by NASA and SpaceX Rocket Launch in Florida
In December 2018, Antoine had the honor of being invited by NASA to the CRS-16 SpaceX Resupply mission to the ISS. The rocket launch would happen at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which he was able to visit with NASA employees and even go inside the Vehicle Assembly Building! Antoine made a full video about his 4-day trip, including the launch.
Hopefully someday we will both be able to witness a rocket launch together :)
IX - Jan 2019 | Our First Equiment Upgrade
2019 started out pretty well! Shortly after our first video of the year, explaining the goals we would aim to achieve during 2019, a very nice person contacted us in the hopes of helping us. "Mr. B." chatted with us a few times in the past, and really liked what we were doing for community.
He decided to send us an astrophotography-dedicated camera, the ZWO ASI 1600MM, to allow us to create even better images!
We obviously could not believe that this was happening and thanked him so many times he probably got sick of it (lol!), but we are forever grateful to this person and for his donation.
This was our very first upgrade in our astrophotography rig. We had to purchase two small devices to be able to use the camera: The ZWO ASIAir (to combat the low storage space on our laptop) and the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox (to allow us to power up all our accessories with one battery).
You can see a review of the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox HERE.
The video we made about our new equipment upgrade
X - Mar 2019 | Affiliate Programs
We were approached by different astrophotography retailers to consider a partnership that would be beneficial both parties! Now we have the chance to try new equipment out and take images that would be better or different than our own setup. We're super grateful for the opportunity and hope to be able to try more new things over time.
XI - June 2020 | My Astro Journal
After working on an astrophotography app for more than two years, it was time for the big release!
My Astro Journal is an app available on the iOS app store. It is 100% free and contains NO ADS! We wanted to give something to the community that was fun, interactive, and that you can learn a lot from.
You can learn more about My Astro Journal HERE.
2023 Update: Sadly, our developer moved to Asia and we cannot work together easily anymore, so we might have to give up on this project :(
XII - March 2021 | The Galactic Course
In January of 2021 we announced the Galactic Course and opened the pre-orders until its release on March 1st!
The Galactic Course includes a LIFETIME membership that gives you unlimited access to all current and upcoming astrophotography content. Step into an ever-growing realm of knowledge and learn at your own pace.Make life-long friends and connections with other members, and get tips from instructors that truly care about your journey and progress under the night sky.
XIII - 2022 | The Charles Messier Grave Decoration Project
In January of 2022, we launched a new project with the hopes to gather enough funds to renovate and decorate Charles Messier's grave for many years to come. Thanks to you, we were able to raise enough money to ensure that Messier's grave will be decorated with flowers for at least the next TWENTY-FIVE years! 🥳
Be sure to follow the project page to keep up to date with the project. You can also contribute if you'd like to help us reach even more years!
XIV - Feb 2022 | Finding Stella in the Desert
In February of 2022, we headed out to the desert to do some astrophotography and record some videos. As soon as we got to our usual imaging spot, which is about one hour away from the city, we discovered a dog in the middle of a dirt road! The dog ran to the car and stayed with us crying, it was obviously abandoned.
We decided to cancel our astrophotography session and take the dog home with us. Annnnnd we ended up keeping it! Her name is Stella and we believe she is about a year and a half old and is probably a Pitbull/Labrador mix. You can learn all about Stella's story and how she got used to her new home on our full blog post.
Answering Your Questions
We made a video about what it's like to do Astronomy/Astrophotography as a couple.
How does it feel? Who collimates? Do we sometimes argue? You can watch the video below:
GALACTIC HUNTER BOOKS
Antoine & Dalia Grelin