Background: When the Astronomy.SE beta site closed, its questions were moved en masse to Physics.SE where the great bulk of them at certainly on topic. One of the possible exceptions are those questions on practical astrophotography which are not particularly good fits for Physics.

I'd lie to discuss the suitability of these questions for Photo.SE and establish a policy so make the proper disposition of these question clear.


unfortunately their tagging is rather inconsistent, but there are a couple more on this search.

  • Can you use punctuation? Did the Astronomy site close? Or did they close the questions? – dpollitt May 31 '12 at 0:57
  • Only if harassed by a competent editor. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 31 '12 at 1:14
  • So... can we get these migrated? – rfusca Jun 3 '12 at 21:54
  • @rfusca I've just done a couple, but not the hydrogen alpha one pending some kind of consensus on it. And I'll do the other two from the search I posted above. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jun 3 '12 at 21:57
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    @dmckee - it really seems like a photography question. It talks a lot about the camera, the CCD, and the filters - along with historical camera examples. I would have trouble seeing somebody thinking "I want a good astro camera - lets ask on the physics site." – rfusca Jun 3 '12 at 21:59
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    Hmmm. I'm not sure about this one: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/23981/… – Please Read Profile Jun 3 '12 at 22:11
  • Ya, that one doesn't seem up photo's alley. – rfusca Jun 3 '12 at 22:23
  • @mattdm: Well, if you don't want it send it back. No trouble for us to keep it. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jun 3 '12 at 22:24
  • this one is about optics but not necessarily photography photo.stackexchange.com/q/23987/6789 – DHall Jun 4 '12 at 19:38

The position I'm taking is that these are questions more about taking pictures (process, technique and equipment) than about physical or astronomical processes, and would prefer to see them moved off of Physics.SE.


My position is that most of the questions should stay on Physics.SE, with some exceptions. I mean "most of the questions" to include those which are:

  • Not about the creative aspects of astrophotography (composition, background, post-procesing effects, etc.).

  • About aspects of astrophotography that do not have a large number of experts on photo.SE such as noise, photometry, image processing for the purpose of measurement rather than aesthetics, imaging outside the visible spectrum, diffraction, etc. (eg. most photography experts wouldn't know what was meant by "H-alpha" and if they do they are probably also on physics.SE)

  • Asked in such a way as to imply that the desired answers should come from a technical/scientific point of view.

The rest of the questions, those which are clearly about the artistic aspects of astrophotography and obviously off topic on physics.SE, should of course be migrated.

However, when there is doubt about a question being on-topic at physics.SE, but it is not clearly off-topic, we must consider that it was originally posted at a technical Stackexchange and the asker presumably wants a technical response. When it does not violate the physics FAQ to do so, we should attempt to respect this decision and leave it on physics.SE. In my experience, the photo.SE community is uninterested or even actively opposed to answers which are technically and scientifically accurate, in favor of more conceptual "rules of thumb" which may be helpful to photographers, but incorrect in a technical sense. This is not a knock on the photo.SE community, but it does mean that we are being inconsiderate of the intent of the question if we move technical questions from astro.SE to photo.SE.

  • This is good because I didn't really define "these questions" and Colin's comments go toward getting a definition. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 30 '12 at 20:47
  • Can you say what you think of the other examples (I'm going to be easy to convince about the H-alpha one)? – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 30 '12 at 21:17
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    I'm curious to see an example of where an actually-incorrect "rule of thumb" answer was preferred over a technically and scientifically accurate one. In my experience, answers which cover the "human" case do tend to be preferred, but not if they're actually wrong. – Please Read Profile May 31 '12 at 4:13
  • Well, okay, the accepted answer to this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/521/…. I'm catching up, though. :) – Please Read Profile Jun 1 '12 at 18:20
  • @mattdm: lol, I hadn't seen that before; it's pretty funny but it's not exactly what I was referring to. I'm not ignoring your request though. I've been pretty busy so I haven't had time to find the examples. – Colin K Jun 1 '12 at 18:27
  • With respect, a great deal of astrophotography is bound up in creating aesthetically-pleasing lies (band-shifting, false colours, spectral emphasis) rather than the cold, hard facts in any case. It's hardly less divorced from objectivity than landscape or portraiture in that regard, and actually necessitates a subjective approach at least as much as we "artistic photographers" are perceived to be engaging in. The fact that the camera is pointed above the horizon doesn't make it a science; it's the photographer's intent. – user2719 Jun 4 '12 at 19:29
  • @StanRogers: Exactly my point. It is the photographers intent that matters. Just as "The fact that the camera is pointed above the horizon doesn't make it a science," it is also true that the fact that it is a photograph doesn't make it not science. As I stated in my answer, if the question is clearly looking for guidance from a creative point of view, photo.SE is the correct place for it. If the photographer is looking for scientific guidance, Physics.SE is the right place for it. Nice attempt at disagreement though :) – Colin K Jun 4 '12 at 19:34
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    You're still not getting it: the scientific aspect and the aesthetic aspect are not mutually exclusive. If we're a little number-shy here, it's not because we're not aware of the physics, but because we are aware of the way the physics translates into an image, and at the same time aware that the image itself is a subjective product. The numbers are only a part of the story (even in ostensibly objective forensic applications). – user2719 Jun 4 '12 at 19:41
  • @StanRogers: Yes exactly. I'm not sure what makes you think you're saying something different from me in any way. – Colin K Jun 4 '12 at 19:42

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