The University of Southampton

40 years of star gazing comes to light

Published: 24 July 2006

An ECS professor of photonics who makes major advances in optical communications by day and gazes at the stars by night, is exhibiting his collection of deep-sky images at the University Library.

Greg Parker, Professor of Photonics at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), will exhibit images of the deep sky captured over the last year from his garden observatory in the New Forest, at the Starscapes Exhibition which will open on Thursday 27 July at the University Library, Southampton.

Looking back billions of years in time and thousands of light years in space, these images of the deep sky are truly awe inspiring.

Greg’s love of the stars in the night sky led him to erect an observatory in his garden in the New Forest. Although he has been star gazing for 40 years, he only started imaging the skies last year.

‘The most amazing two and a half hours of my life (so far) was when I got Celestron Nexstar 11 GPS scope fired up so that I could automatically go to all those objects I’d only read about before’, he said.

‘I can still recall that night of Thursday 2 May 2002 as if it were yesterday. Since that time more amazing things have happened – I got a CCD camera and started deep-sky imaging. Never in my wildest dreams as an 11 year old fascinated by astronomy did I guess that I would be able to take deep-sky images from my own back garden in my lifetime!’

The camera downloads the data which Greg then processes digitally using Adobe Photoshop. This enables him to manipulate the picture and bring out the faint detail. The result is a galaxy of prints that brings the splendours of the cosmos to life.

‘That’s why it’s a great one for me,’ he said. ‘It brings together optics, the stars, photography and the computational processing. It’s got the lot in one hobby.’

Starscapes will run from 27 July to 9 September 2006. All the images in the exhibition are in the fully illustrated catalogue. [pdf]

Ends Notes for editors

1. Professor Greg Parker is Chair of Photonics at ECS. For further information about his work at ECS, his observatory and his Astrophotography, please visit the following links:

2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for research and scholarship. One of the UK’s top 10 research universities, it offers first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering, and has a strong enterprise agenda. The University has nearly 20,000 students and 5000 staff based across its campuses in Southampton and Winchester. Its annual turnover is in the region of £287 million.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Greg Parker, ECS, Tel: 023 8059 2650, Email:

Joyce Lewis, Communications Manager, Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5453,

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