About Me


Selfie Success Shot at Lunar Eclipse
Me celebrating a successful total eclipse of the Moon during the final partial phases, observed and shot from Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta, on September 27, 2015. I shot with 3 cameras, with a 4th to record the scene. 


My astrophotos have been featured on Spaceweather.com, APOD Astronomy Picture of the Day, the Weather Channel, NBCNews.com, CBSNews.com, Earth&Sky, UniverseToday, The Guardian, and in National Geographic magazine, and many other magazines and calendars.

I recently retired from many years as a writer and producer of planetarium shows, most recently for the TELUS Spark science centre in Calgary. Over some 30 years of producing planetarium shows, my programs have played across Canada and in theatres in the U.S.

I am well-known in Canada as an astronomy writer, particularly in my role a contributing editor to SkyNews magazine. I also serve as a contributing editor to Sky and Telescope magazine, writing reviews of equipment.

I have recently authored the eBook How to Photograph and Process Nightscapes and Time-Lapses, a 550-page ebook available at the Apple iBook Store.

Milky Way Over the Icefields
My eBook on Nightscape and Time-Lapses is also available in PDF format through my website at www.amazingsky.com 

I have also co-authored several best selling print guidebooks for amateur astronomers, including, with Terence Dickinson, The Backyard Astronomer’s Guideavailable in a hugely revised Fourth Edition published in 2021 (Firefly Books).

I also authored several children’s book on space, notably Insiders: Space and Mission to the Moon, both for Simon and Schuster. A children’s book about Stars was published in 2011.

I also contributed sections to National Geographic’s Backyard Guide to the Night Sky.

I am a frequent guest expert on local and national news media. As an amateur astronomer, my interests include astrophotography and deep-sky observing (I compiled some of the popular deep-sky observing lists in the annual RASC Observer’s Handbook).

I take the opportunity as often as possible to visit the southern hemisphere to pursue both observing and photography under southern skies. My other obsession, eclipse chasing, has taken me to every continent, chalking up 16 total solar eclipses — #16 was  in Idaho, on August 21, 2017.

Asteroid 78434 is named for me – very nice!

Alan Dyer, revised September 2022

43 Replies to “About Me”

  1. Hi Alan:, I’m a friend of Terry D. and we worked together at the Ontario Science Centre in the 70’s. I spent time in his observatory in Yarker as my cottage is only 25 minutes away. I’m also close to the Lennox and Addington Deep Sky site. Normally I would chat with Terry but I know he has medical challenges. Then your recent article on SN appeared on telescope options. Greatly informative and just what I needed. I have not owned a scope since a Halley I got from Terry and I donated it to a local school. With 2 grandchildren at 8&10 it is now time for a scope. Thinking GoTo and Meade ETX Maksuthov 90. Suggestions would be most welcome. Cheers Ron

    1. Hello, Terry and I have a new edition of The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide coming out this autumn. See backyardastronomy.com In the meantime check my reviews in SkyNews and at AstroGearToday.com. The Meade 90mm ETX is a good scope for urban use, though limited by its aperture, as any 90mm scope will be.

  2. Well, amazing YOU! I live in Silver City, NM, and do some very amateur smartphone New Mexico Skies photos.

    Found your several sites/blog when I went looking for views of today’s (December 11, 2020) Silver City sunset.

    A sunset I missed because I was setting up a wifi hotspot.

    My brother, Charles Scherbel is the “real” family photographer–one degree in physics and 2 M.A.s in photography (color process and journalistic).

    Charles (retired) taught photography, film, and math/physics to high school students and taught adults at Gunnison College in Gunnison CO summers for years.

    He built an entire high school photo/film lab (by hand; he’s also redone 6 or 7 homes by now, plus a miniature city-type water system and underground irrigation for trees in Texas when they’re near Gunnison in CO half the year).

    Did I mention logging his own trees in CO in firebreak territory and building beautiful rustic furniture?

    Anyway, love your photos. A real find! I’m an earthsky.org astronomy fan from way back UT Austin days, and I lived near McDonalds Observatory in the Davis Mts. while teaching at Sul Ross in West Texas.

    I may indeed be interested in several of your books of instruction and deep sky photos!

    Silver City NM is my home since 2014.

    1. Hello, I love Silver City. I spent the winter there in 2014/15. Always great music happening at TranquillBuzz and the Toad. And good concerts at the Performing Arts Center. And great skies!

  3. Hi Alan!
    I am a recently-retired oil-industry geophysicist, who is now morphing myself into becoming a Science Educator (Maths & Physics, mostly) for kids (typically ages 7-17). I volunteer with Telus-Spark, most recently with their Prototype Project (are you familiar with that?). I also am offering my services to Dean White, a retired Engineer who founded Roots2Stem in Calgary. Spark are keen to have my input on a proposed Astronomy exhibit there – whilst Dean has invited me to teach an Astronomy course at the North Point School for boys next year.
    Would you have any interest in offering me advice on possible Content material for these two Projects? I am understanding from your website that you used to do the Planetarium shows at Spark, right? Did that all end amicably, or are there some things I should perhaps know about Spark before getting too involved? Dean, for example, is not particularly complementary about his experiences with them – but then it’s way too easy to make sweeping, meaningless generalizations. My experience of visiting different schools with the Prototype Project was *all* positive.
    Hope we get a chance to talk!!! I will be at spark for the 20th July Adults-Only Night for the Lunar Landing Party. I should at least see you from the audience there!
    Cheers! Hope you are well!
    Robin Owens

  4. Hey Alan,
    Awesome site. Love the reviews. I’d love to see a proper test on the Fuji medium formats for deep sky and night scape bulb exposures if possible.

  5. Alan, I’ve noticed the many beautiful pictures you’ve taken in the Banff area. I’m planning my first trip there in mid-September 2019. As I’m not that familiar with the terrain, can you recommend some sites I can easily and safely reach at night (staying in Canmore) for: (1) milky way and mountain/water vistas and (2) possible aurora (“Steve?”). A reflection of either milky way and/or aurora over water would be a bucket list accomplishment for me.

    1. Hi — Favourite spots are along the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road just north of Banff, and at the lake itself. Also Two Jack and Johnson Lakes on the Loop Road are great. For the Milky Way over water try Herbert Lake, just at the the start of the Icefields Parkway north of Lake Louise, or farther north at Bow Lake.

  6. Hi Alan,
    I could really use your help with a question that I can’t find an answer to. How do the stars rotate counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere? This question is really making me nuts as I can’t figure out how this works. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. The sky turns the same way, east to west wherever you are. But in the Northern Hemisphere you face north to the north celestial pole and the sky turns CCW around the pole.

      But in the southern hemisphere you face south to the south celestial pole. So because you are now facing the other way, the sky — and trackers — turn CW around the pole.

      Use any planetarium software – Stellarium.org is free — and you’ll see the sky motion.

  7. Hello Alan

    I know that this is a very late comment after the great American eclipse, but after returning to the UK I purchased your book so I could create a composite based on 8-10 images. I noticed that the instructions within ‘PHOTOSHOP 201: LUMINOSITY MASKS’ use Adobe CC 2017 … Unfortunately I am still using CS5.5 and LR5! All the procedures are absolutely fine, but when I attempt ‘LUMINOSITY MASKING – METHOD #1: MANUAL’ or ‘LUMINOSITY MASKING – METHOD #2: APPLY IMAGE’ the result is just a little less intense than one of my single frame multi-second exposures. There is no subtly as per your example (and I have adjusted the opacities, etc.). I am wondering if you know if the Luminosity technique in CS5 results in unusual results? I am a designer by day so I am very familiar with Photoshop, but perhaps I am simply missing a little ‘trick’ when processing the images. Thank you in advance if you might be able to assist …!

    Best wishes, Andrew

    1. Sorry, I can’t help you with using CS5 as that goes back many years though I’m not sure what would be different about the luminosity masks it creates. You might try Photomatix HDR 6 as many have found it works fine. My book shows an example with v5. The issue with HDR blends is alignment and registration.

      1. Thank you for your advice, Alan … I’m having a second attempt with my exposures this evening!

  8. Alan, I’ve purchased your book on upcoming solar eclipse and got a question while reading it. You mentioned what once you used Canon 60Da. Did you use a UV/IR filter for it when shooting the eclipse? I have myself a Canon 1000Da and I am going to use Baader AstroSolar Film. Do I need to put an UV/IR filter (it is easily doable, thanks to threaded T-adapter) or not?

    1. Hi I don’t use any separate UV/IR blocking filter with my modified cameras as they already have them added in before the sensor replacing the stock IR block filter. Mine are not full-spectrum cameras with no filters. With those you would need an external filter. That said using a modified camera won’t make a big difference for totality as the prominences are so bright, and pink, as much of the emission is also H-Beta. But it won’t hurt to use one. Clear skies!

  9. Hi, I just read your ebook on shooting the upcoming solar eclipse and it has been a huge help. I would like to shoot closeups with a 400mm prime on a Nex 7. I have a sturdy camera tripod. Would using a barn door tracker on the tripod be a help in keeping the camera aimed properly?

    1. Hi Jan. With that focal length and sensor size a tracker would be useful but only if it is solid and is still easy to precisely position the Sun. Practice with it on the Sun or Moon now. If it proves too shaky or hard to use, don’t use it! Practice!

  10. My husband and Imhave followed your work since we met you at The Reesor Ranch several years ago. It is awesome. We were wondering if you ever considered going to Stewart, B.C. We own a property up there and it is where my father and Uncle were born. There are amazing photography opportunities up there!

  11. Hi Alan,

    Great Northern Light Timelapse. I wondered, if you had the whole Timelapse sequence available in Fulldome?


Leave a Reply to Robin Owens Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: