December 16, 2021
In 1996, NASA joined forces with Michigan Technological University to create a website featuring daily photographs of our Universe. They called it "Astronomy Picture of the Day," or "APOD" for short. The website launched with a total of 14 views on its first day. Over the decades, thousands of master astroimagers have been featured on this prestigious site, which now boasts more than one million daily visitors.
Anyone can submit images to be considered for an APOD. Here are the official instructions from NASA for submitting a picture. The competition is stiff, as many APOD winners will tell you.
So how do you know if your image is "APOD-worthy?" Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. You could achieve your first APOD after spending hundreds of hours creating and submitting dozens of images, or you could hit the jackpot on the first try.
Winning an APOD is like Winning an Oscar
When NASA selects your image as an APOD, it's a big deal. The win gives you notoriety in the astronomy and astrophotography community. We asked a few recent APOD winners what their win meant to them:
APOD winner and Celestron employee Chris Hendren: "For newer astrophotographers, winning even a single APOD is seen as an honor, especially when the competition is getting fiercer all the time due to evolving technology, newer equipment, and more people taking a stab at the hobby. For a veteran like me, I still had a 'wow, that's pretty cool' reaction. I will be planning to submit more images in the future."
APOD winner Chuck Ayoub: "For me, the fact that I can now have my own picture on NASA's website, in the same group where Hubble Space Telescope pictures are also shown, you're in pretty good company. It's kind of taken on a life of its own, and anyone who gets an APOD, in my opinion, has a little bit of extra credibility in this hobby."
APOD winner and Team Celestron member Dylan O'Donnell: "Over time, APOD has become like the Oscar awards for astrophotographers—if the Oscar awards ran every single night of the year. So, everyone wants one, but there are many Leonardo DiCaprios out there who deserve one but haven't been pipped yet!"
APOD winner Trevor Jones: "Getting an APOD is an honor because it feels like it 'legitimizes' my work as an astrophotographer. Because the website is tied in with NASA, the image selection seems to carry extra weight. The archive of images is impressive, and it almost feels like being a part of astrophotography history by winning an APOD."
Over the years, other prestigious awards have popped up to complement the APOD:
Celestron Helps Achieve "APOD-perfect" Images
Celestron's world-class, high-performance equipment has helped many individuals achieve APOD-perfect images over the years. Among the winners, you'll find many Team Celestron members and Celestron friends. Imagers have used everything from a Celestron telescope tube to a Celestron mount to a complete Celestron telescope setup to produce their images.
Astroimagers Jimmy Walker, Dylan O'Donnell, Christopher Go, Damian Peach, Christoph Kaltseis, Chuck Ayoub, J-P Metsavainio, and our very own Technical Support Manager, Chris Hendren have achieved APODs with the following equipment:
Our largest astrograph, used for space surveillance and other scientific applications
Celestron's first astrograph created in the digital era, it captures fast, wide-field images with shorter exposure times
CGX RASA 8"
Our most compact astrograph paired with a sturdy 55 lb-payload mount
Our largest Schmidt-Cassegrain, delivering world-class detail
This workhorse provides excellent, high-contrast views even at very high magnification
The "Goldilocks" tube, not to small and not too big, and a favorite of many imagers
Celestron 14" EdgeHD
Our aplanatic, flat-field optical design that reduces field curvature and coma for pinpoint stars
Celestron 9.25" EdgeHD
The "Goldilocks" tube meets EdgeHD optics to produce pinpoint stars to the edge of your imaging sensor
A compact Maksutov telescope that provides excellent light-gathering ability for its size
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APODs and Honorable Mentions
Below is a slide show of APODs and honorable mentions from friends of Celestron. The caption for each image includes the astroimager, the object in the image, Celestron equipment used, and the date they received their APOD.
The Owl and the Galaxy (April 2, 2015)
Celestron 8" Newtonian
Starting to get serious about your astroimaging? Here are some product recommendations to consider while building your APOD-worthy Celestron imaging setup:
If you’re new to the hobby of astronomy and looking to achieve an APOD one day, embrace your beginner scope and master your skills! Remember, every great astroimager started somewhere. Here are a few of our favorite beginner scopes to get you started.
Need Some Tips? Hear from a Winner
If you need some guidance from previous winners, you don't have to look too far. PhotographingSpace.com has created a How I Got an APOD Blog series that has APOD winners explaining their process. Everyone's process is different, but the general themes are planning, preparation, processing, and patience. Team Celestron member Dylan O'Donnell contributed to the series when he won an APOD for his image of the ISS transiting the Moon. Read it here.
Send Us Your Celestial Masterpiece
So, have you achieved an APOD with Celestron equipment? We want to see it and celebrate with you on social media! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide information on your image, including the APOD link and the equipment you used.