Prathamesh Jaju, a 16-year-old high school going teen from Pune, Maharashtra is making the internet crazy with his pictures of the moon, which is calling to be the clearest ever picture of this celestial body.
Now, in an exclusive interaction with The Liberal Journal, Prathamesh Jaju shared the story and the techniques that he managed to capture the clearest image of the Moon. Have a look at this conversation:
You are just 16, right? So instead of choosing any other genre, why you specifically went with Astrophotography?
Yes, I am 16. Well, my interest in space and Astronomy was from a very young age. My interest in this field increased even more after watching Star Wars movie. I got to know more about space on Google, YouTube and many other platforms. I would also like to recommend the AstroBackyard YouTube channel for this and there are many other channels too. So, then I started doing Astrophotography because we love to see what’s beyond the earth and people also love to know about it. I saw many other people who capture such pictures with a basic set-up, like having a DSLR camera and telescope. My uncle first gifted me a telescope and then I started doing this. Now, after a journey of 3 or 4 years, I am able to capture pictures at a good level.
Exactly at what age you started doing photography? Is that you directly went with Astrophotography or you started with anything else?
I started doing photography around 12 and I started this with Astrophotography only, as I am not a big fan of portrait & product photography. I love doing nature, landscape and astrophotography.
The 50,000 pictures that you have taken were around 186 GB and after processing them all, it was around 600 MB. So how you dealt with such huge files as even professional photographers feel it difficult to manage large files? Tell us something about the software or techniques that you have used to process your pictures.
In astrophotography, there are many techniques that we use. In this type of photography, you click images for hours, then process them for hours and then edit them for hours. What I did on 3rd May 2021 is that I was on my terrace, I set-up my telescope and started shooting around 1:30-1:45 AM & I took around 50,000 pictures in around four hours.
Whenever we zoom to any object, the image gets pixelated. So I used ‘Panaroma’, in the same way, we use it on our phone. Basically, I recorded 37 videos of the moon from various angles and extracted thousands of images from every single video. Then I sharpened all the images in software called ‘ImPPG’ & ‘RegiStax’ and further stitched them like a puzzle in photoshop.
What was the specification of your camera, which lens did you used and what was its focal length?
I have used a 5-inch telescope and a 1.2 megapixel (MP) camera, which are best for lunar, moon and Astrophotography. Well, my opinion is that MP count doesn’t matter that much because my motive was to zoom in as much as I can and that helped me in taking so many pictures, not just one.
After becoming an internet sensation and getting so much fame on social media, how does it feel for a teen like you?
I am literally speechless at the moment because I never knew that will get so many followers on social media and too many people around the globe who are appreciating my work. Also, recently I got coverage in a Russian news platform, so I don’t know how to express all this. I am very very happy that a lot of people are now seeing my work.
Have you received any kind of offer from any senior photographer or any organization regarding some big projects? You can share that with us.
I am not sure about any organization, but yes many senior or professional photographers have reached out to me and appreciated my work. I got some emails too regarding collaboration and I will sure check them out after everything settles down. Also, I am eager to work on such projects if I get the opportunity to do so.
Are you currently working with any organization? If yes, then what’s your role there?
Yes, I am currently working with a Pune based organization namely Jyotirvidya Parisanstha (JVP). I am a volunteer there and most of the basics that I have learnt in this field till now is because of JVP.
Talking about JVP, it is India’s oldest organization for Amateur Astronomers. Like I am a volunteer, there are many other volunteers there who love Astronomy and do Astrophotography. JVP shares information about Astronomy with us, they provide us with study tools and also they conduct exhibitions for us. It is completely run by volunteers.
In your journey, have you got support from your family? And now, when everyone is praising you, how they are reacting to it?
I am very lucky that I always got support from my family. My father is a businessman of computers and my mother is a housewife and they are too much supportive for my hobby. I also do long-jump and I have played nationals twice. They are extremely supportive and happy about what is going on social media right now.
What’s your future plans and which field would you like to opt for?
I wish to pursue my career in Astrophysics and Astronomy. For my higher education, I am looking to get into the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore or The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune.
In which class you are in and what’s your stand on schooling based education?
I have finished my 10th standard and exams are cancelled by the examination board, so I will be going to 11th standard this year.
I think our science textbooks are enough for one to develop an interest in Astronomy. But it would be great if some more information is added to our textbooks regarding Astronomy and Astrophysics because people generally think that Astronomy is all about stars, moon and planets, but actually, it is more than anybody’s imagination. However, it should not be put as compulsory for everyone because after all everything is based upon your interest that whether you want to know about it or not.
(Interview by Chirag Jha)