There is something particularly attractive about this time of year in the world of astrophotography. After the perseids in mid August, we enter a period where there is sufficent darkness at night to actually get something done. However, there are serveral other features which make this a comfortable and time of year to pursue our hobby of astrophotography

We know we are on the brink of the plunge into the long dark nights of winter. But at present, through late August and September, it still isn't getting dark until fairly late on in the evening. This means that astrophotography imaging sessions are civilized and relaxed affairs. One is able to carefully set things up, enjoying the long evening. Your target can be acquired in the fading twilight, and we are all focused and framed and ready to shoot some nice subs once it does actually get dark.

It is also, by and large, warm. Trouble is, most of us have forgotten about cold by the time we reach September. We can happy stand outside for fairly long periods dressed in nothing more than a light jacket, if that. We forget the multitude of clothing which we will have to call on in the months to come.

The constellations are also joining in with the fad for friendly behavior. The daily march of the constellations into the western sky continues unabated, however, because darkness comes a little earlier every day, it appears that the constellations have slowed down! In September I can happily image objects in, for example, Cassiopeia, as they rise to transit during the evening and very early morning. And I can keep doing this right up until Christmas. On the last day of the year, gamma Cassiopeiae is transiting at about 6.30pm - still time for a sub or two before it gets too far beyond transit.

Best of all, we know that the season is only just starting. With luck, we have nights and nights of happy astrophotography imaging ahead of us, and the winter targets, the Orion region, the spring galaxies - all this is waiting for us. We feel a tingling anticipation for the next 6 months.

Compare this with imaging on a cold dark February night. You rush from work. It is already dark before you get home. Before you're even in the door, you're fretting because of the clouds have left the sky and a rich range of targets are ready and waiting for you. You can't waste a minute. You rush, you worry and probably you make mistakes. At the back of your mind is the fact it is February, you haven't imaged half the things you want to this season, and in a few weeks, the evenings are going to start creeping away from you. It is also freezing cold - which slows your movements and brains. The whole imaging experience seems to be a hurried affair.

You reflect fondly on the warm September evenings gone by.

Make the most of the next month or so. Take your time with imaging. Get everything working perfectly. When you get to the long cold dark nights of wintertime, you don't want to be fiddling with malfunctioning kit. Get all the wrinkles ironed out now when conditions are more conducive to solving problems. When you get into serious wintertime imaging and everything works because of careful preparation over the next month or so, you will get fantastic results. Enjoy the next month. Make a firm foundation for a winter full of great astrophotography.